Elite athlete to high-performance coach in men’s rugby union and soccer: a cohort longitudinal study

Blackett, Alex, Evans, Adam and Piggott, David (2015) Elite athlete to high-performance coach in men’s rugby union and soccer: a cohort longitudinal study. In: 10th International Council for Coaching Excellence Global Coach Conference: 'Coach and Athlete Empowerment: a winning combination', 23-25 August, 2015, Vierumaki, Finland.

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This study examined the development of coaching knowledge amongst current and recently retired elite male rugby union and soccer athletes over a 12 month period whilst enrolled on a level three coaching qualification in their sport. The qualifications were specifically designed to fast-track senior professional athletes through coach accreditation structures (Rynne, 2014). The study’s aims were twofold: Firstly, to conceptualise the impact which a competitive playing career in sport had on coach development in comparison to their attendance on the level three coaching qualification and; Secondly, the study sought to determine how elite athletes negotiated their pathway into a coaching career.

The project employed a longitudinal cohort research design. A total of 15 participants (10 in rugby union and 5 in soccer) were interviewed twice whilst registered onto a level three coaching award. All participants intended to follow a coaching career and were either current professional rugby union or soccer athletes, or had recently retired from competitive play in the last 12 months when first interviewed. First phase interviews were conducted at the commencement of the award. Second phase interviews were conducted ten to twelve months afterwards to coincide with the culmination of the award. Thematic analysis was conducted separately for each phase of interviews, whereby themes on the influences for coach development were highlighted.

Competitive playing careers were perceived to significantly inform athletes on their playing philosophy (preferred style of play). The participants, however, confused a coaching philosophy (strategies to coach) with a playing philosophy. Although the level three formal coaching qualifications were highly regarded, this confusion continued at the culmination of the courses. Subsequently, participants made little reference to the value of formal pedagogical knowledge during second phase interviews, either in relation to their career, the coaching course, or gained through interactions with their mentors. The participants also recorded the mentors assigned to them within the formal qualifications to uphold little value. Instead, informal mentors comprising of personal contacts formed during their own competitive playing career were sought on the basis of trust and a shared playing philosophy having already been established.

Discussion and conclusion
Although formal mentorship within coaching qualifications has been promoted within the coach education literature (Cassidy & Rossi, 2006), the present study identified participants attributed this with little value and even contested against it. This finding suggests the impact of formalised coach education and its mentorship strategies should be re-evaluated for this particular population’s development of coaching knowledge.

Keywords:Coach education
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C600 Sports Science
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
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ID Code:19245
Deposited On:25 Oct 2015 13:12

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