‘Becoming’ an elite coach: a longitudinal study examining elite soccer and rugby union players’ transitions into elite coaching

Blackett, Alex and Evans, Adam and Piggott, David (2015) ‘Becoming’ an elite coach: a longitudinal study examining elite soccer and rugby union players’ transitions into elite coaching. In: 12th European Association for Sociology of Sport Conference, 10-13 June, 2015, Dublin.

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‘Becoming’ an elite coach: a longitudinal study examining elite soccer and rugby union players’ transitions into elite coaching
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Abstract

The developmental pathways of elite sports coaches have received considerable amounts of enquiry within the field of coach education. These studies, however, have principally been situated within psychological disciplines focusing on cognitive development. In so doing, it has been identified that tacit knowledge acquired at the subconscious level can significantly inform subsequent coaching practices. Such findings have inferred to socialisation processes within the field of elite sport as an elite athlete significantly contribute towards individuals acquiring and developing coaching knowledge to perform at an elite level. Nevertheless, this is an area which has not been fully investigated, and therefore remains the core aim of the present paper.
A total of 15 elite male players (5-soccer; 10-rugby union) competing in England were individually interviewed via two waves of data collection over a 10-12 month period. A qualitative longitudinal cohort research design was employed to enable the researcher to ‘follow’ the participants during the process of them ‘becoming’ elite soccer or rugby union coaches. Subsequently, both retrospective and prospective questions on ‘becoming’ an elite coach were integrating into the interview schedules, designed to stimulate reflexive accounts on how socio-cultural mechanisms contoured coach development. Data were retroductively analysed. Identified themes drew upon Bourdieusian concepts of habitus and hexis. Results identified the significance of agents embodying particular values and beliefs engendered from professional clubs. The embodiment of structural values and beliefs was collectively termed as ‘coaching philosophy’. Becoming aware of their own subconscious values tied to their ‘coaching philosophies’ was identified as pivotal in securing the participants’ confidence in negotiating an adapted identity from an elite athlete to that of an elite coach.
The paper discusses how such findings can enhance the provision of coach education for increasing agency reflexivity on consciously learning and then embodying the values required for ‘becoming’ an elite coach.

Keywords:Coach education, Bourdieu, Association football, Rugby union
Subjects:L Social studies > L390 Sociology not elsewhere classified
C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:18314
Deposited On:05 Aug 2015 12:35

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