A case study of behaviour: Differences between a head coach and player-coach

Will Vickery*, Dhanur Bhardwaj, Simon Feros, Lyndell Bruce, Adam Nichol

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Coach behaviour has received extensive attention in our literature base. This is particularly the case in recent times where systematic observations have highlighted common behaviours exhibited by coaches across various contexts. The current literature, however, lacks significant focus on the behaviours and practices of player-coaches. This is surprising given that these individuals may represent a significant proportion of the non-professional sporting industry. Purpose: The purpose of this case study was to investigate the differences in behaviours used by a player-coach and head coach within the sport of cricket and provide a position statement as to how and why further research in this area could be conducted. Method: One head coach (age = 26 y; Level 1 Cricket Australia coaching accreditation) and one player-coach (age = 30 y; Level 2 Cricket Australia coaching accreditation) were filmed during their typical practice sessions at various points of the cricket season. The behaviours of each coach were coded using a modified, cricket-specific version of the Coach Analysis and Intervention System. 1 Findings: Across 12 practice sessions (head coach n = 4, number of minutes recorded = 1004; player-coach n = 8, number of minutes recorded = 567), observation (on task) and questioning (convergent) were the two most frequent behaviours, irrespective of the coach's role. The player-coach tended to use more instruction when compared to the head-coach, in addition to asking fewer (divergent) questions. Significantly more of the session was spent observing (on task) by the head coach than the player-coach. Specific to this study, the player-coach spent significantly more time involved in training as a player than the head coach. Based on the current findings, it appears that the role of the player-coach is likely to shape practice and behaviour. Indeed, we deploy social theory to provide tentative explanations for these key differences. Conclusion: Overall, this paper is among the first to explore the role and practices of the player-coach. Given that player-coaches likely make up a significant proportion of the non-professional sporting industry, much greater research and attention is needed on this area moving forward. In particular, we feel that multiple or mixed-method studies that engage with social theory would be well positioned to develop generative insights into a) intentions behind the deployment of player-coach behaviour, b) actual behaviours engaged, and c) athlete (and others’) perceptions of such practice. Doing so would provide significant opportunities to develop bespoke education for this highly specialised – yet under examined – role.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174795412311540
Pages (from-to)1295-1306
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science and Coaching
Issue number4
Early online date11 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2023

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