Positive Coaching: Ethical Practices for Athlete Development

Jim Denison*, Zoe Avner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Positive coaching has traditionally been defined and understood through a modernist lens (Smoll & Smith, 1987; Thompson, 1995, 2003) and a combination of privileged scientific knowledges. One effect of this is that coaches' problemsolving approaches tend to disregard the complex social, and relational dimensions of coaching (Nash & Collins, 2006) and ignore how problems get selectively framed and named (Lawson, 1984). As a result, many problems in sport remain misunderstood or solved ineffectively. Drawing on the work of Michel Foucault we critique these reductionist understandings of effective and ethical coaching and argue that for coaches to become a positive force for change, they must engage in an ongoing critical examination of the knowledges and assumptions that inform their problem-solving approaches. Further, we conclude that for coaching to become a respected profession worthy of deep and intelligent thought, it is vital that coaches carefully consider the effects produced by the way they solve problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-227
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2011
Externally publishedYes


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