Coproducing the coaching process: coaching as a collaborative practice

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Introduction Research has portrayed sport coaches as authoritarian, almost dictatorial individuals, exerting their power over athletes in order to control the coaching process (e.g., Cushion and Jones, 2006). These representations both reflect and support a popularised archetype, particularly in professional sport, of 'good' coaching being militaristic in style, with clearly defined leaders and followers (Kellett, 2002). Yet, recent research suggests coaches may also operate in more facilitatory, inclusive and cooperative ways (e.g., Hall, Gray and Sproule, 2015). In this paper the notion of coaching as a collaborative, coproduced endeavour, characterised by joint leadership and distributed power is explored using data gathered from training sessions in two rugby coaching domains, in a male professional club's academy and in a female international team. Method Participants from the international team were one female head coach and two male assistant coaches. Participants from the professional rugby academy were one male head coach and one male assistant coach. A longitudinal ethnographic research design was used to gather data using mixed methods in each context. Methods included participant observations recorded in extensive field notes, semi-structured interviews and systematic behavioural observation. Abductive content analysis was carried out on the qualitative data, with descriptive statistical analysis undertaken for the quantitative data. Results Statistical analysis revealed a high proportion of interactions between head and assistant coaches within training sessions, and that coaches provided regular opportunities for athletes to actively contribute to and influence the nature of training. In addition, content analysis highlighted the division of labour within the coaching context, particularly patterns of interdependence and coordination between head coaches, assistant coaches and athletes. In contrast to popular assumptions and representations, findings are discussed in terms of the coaching being a distributed, coproduced practice. Implications for coaching practice The data provide valuable insight into coaches' and athletes' micropolitical use of power during conflict and cooperation in the everyday realities of the coaching process. Findings may support insightful reflection by both coaches and coach educators on how to best prepare for the complex, social realities of practitioners' work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
EventPetro-Canada Sport Leadership sportif - Richmond, BC, Canada
Duration: 3 Nov 2016 → …


ConferencePetro-Canada Sport Leadership sportif
Period3/11/16 → …
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