‘Sinking and swimming in disability coaching’: an autoethnographic account of coaching in a new context

Colum Cronin, Angus Ryrie, Tabo Huntley, John Hayton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Downloads (Pure)


In terms of achieving wider health and social outcomes, sport coaching promises much for young people with disabilities. Despite this promise, the experiences and practices of those coaches who enter the disability sport arena are underexplored. This is particularly so for coaches who operate in community participation rather than competitive elite environments. Accordingly, this paper uses an autoethnographic approach to explore the experiences of a basketball coach (Colum), who enters a youth club for disabled participants for the first time. Utilising observational data, reflective field notes and interviews, five relativist vignettes are collaboratively constructed to represent Colum’s experiences across 12 basketball sessions. The vignettes reveal that the disability and community context disrupted Colum’s normative coaching behaviours. An emotional laborious journey is recounted that includes significant lessons, which may impact coaching practitioners, researchers and sport development officers. In addition, the post-sport context is introduced to differentiate the youth club context from Colum’s normative sport context. Furthermore, the concepts of liminality and ludic, which are novel to extant coaching literature, are introduced to explain how and why Colum struggled to find structure within the context of a youth club for disabled participants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-377
Number of pages16
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number3
Early online date29 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of '‘Sinking and swimming in disability coaching’: an autoethnographic account of coaching in a new context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this