Why 'the best way of learning to coach the game is playing the game’: conceptualising ‘fast-tracked’ high-performance coaching pathways

Blackett, Alex, Evans, Adam and Piggott, David (2017) Why 'the best way of learning to coach the game is playing the game’: conceptualising ‘fast-tracked’ high-performance coaching pathways. Sport, Education and Society, 22 (6). pp. 744-758. ISSN 1357-3322

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At the beginning of the 2013/14 season in England and Wales, 90 head coaches of the 92 men’s national professional football league clubs and 20 of the 22 men’s professional rugby union clubs had tenure as a professional elite player in their respective sports. Moreover, Rynne (2014) has claimed that many former elite athletes are ‘fast-tracked’ through formal accreditation structures into these high-performance coaching roles. The reasons why former elite athletes dominate head coaching roles in professional sports clubs and why a ‘fast-track’ pathway from elite athlete to high-performance coach is supported remain unclear. Thereby the present study sought to address this issue by investigating the basis for ‘fast-tracked’ head coaching appointments. Eight male directors of men’s professional football and rugby union clubs in England were interviewed to examine how particular coaching skills and sources of knowledge were valorised. Drawing upon Bourdieu’s conceptual framework, the results suggested head coaching appointments were often based upon the perceived ability of head coaches gaining player ‘respect’. Experiences gained during earlier athletic careers were assumed to provide head coaches with the ability to develop practical sense and an elite sporting habitus commensurate with the requirements of the field of elite sports coaching. This included leadership and practical coaching skills to develop technical and tactical astuteness, from which, ‘respect’ could be quickly gained and maintained. The development of coaching skills was rarely associated with only formal coaching qualifications. The ‘fast-tracking’ of former athletes for high-performance coaching roles was promoted by directors to ensure the perpetuation of specific playing and coaching philosophies. Consequently, this may exclude groups from coaching roles in elite men’s sport. The paper concludes by outlining how these findings might imply a disjuncture between the skills promoted during formal coaching qualifications and the expectations club directors have of elite coaches in these sports.

Keywords:coach education, embodied knowledge, Bourdieu, habitus, practical sense, respect, coach recruitment, symbolic violence
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:18550
Deposited On:09 Oct 2015 10:33

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