sports development

sport & physical activity academic resources

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Understanding coach learning

E-mail Print

This investigation sought to build on existing understanding by adding to a limited body of information about knowledge structures, learning situations, motives and deterrents to learning, and means of enhancing the provision of coach education. Data were derived from 90 UK practitioners (82 males &8 females), comprising a range of sports (n = 8), who had accumulated on average 23 years of coaching experience (ranging from 3-50 years). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 elite performance coaches. 74 practitioners of a diverse range of coaching levels completed open-ended questionnaires. All of the data were subjected to inductive content analysis.

A number of theoretical `hooks' were utilised within the analysis process to help make sense of the findings. Analysis of the findings demonstrated that:

(1) while it was possible to compartmentalise the coaches' knowledge structures (i. e., Ologies, Pedagogy, and Sport Specific), coaching practice likely requires integrated understanding;

(2) the coaches under investigation learnt in formal, nonformal, and informal situations;

(3) the participants' learning endeavours were largely driven by an internal desire to actualise their coaching potential;

(4) dispositional, institutional, and situational barriers were shown to deter these practitioners from further coach learning participation; and

(5) these practitioners were pragmatic learners who desired relevant and usable knowledge.

Exploration of the coaches' educational experiences, and perceptions about optimal provision, revealed that they wanted more active learning opportunities (i. e., observations, group discussions, practical experiences, and mentoring schemes).

Collectively, the results of this investigation built upon previous understanding of coach learning. They highlighted the significance and underresearched link between the types of knowledge these coaches had acquired, what drove their continued learning engagement, and how these factors had influenced their actual and preferred learning approaches. These findings, therefore, not only contributed towards a greater understanding of how coaches learn, but what needs to be considered if the ongoing development of coaching practitioners is to be better supported. Continued exploration of these factors is required if greater depth of understanding is to evolve.



editors comments

Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas.

To reference an eThesis the convention in the text is the same as a book; author (date), in the reference list there is some debate; theses are more often than not, unpublished works, yet when listed on databases at Universities or elsewhere it could be argued that they are published.

Our best advice is to reference list internet sourced theses as ‘published’…. ie.; Author, (date). Title (emphasised). Place of publication and (university) publisher. Available from: URL reference. See our example reference below. ]


APA reference for this document


Reference :   Nelson, L.J. (2010). Understanding coach learning. Loughborough: Loughborough University


The above reference is in the APA style: See why this is important in our [how to reference] us guide.
PhD publications are normally published under Creative Commons Licence conditions in that you must attribute the work appropriately (use the reference above), must not distribute for commercial means and must not alter the work in any way. For a full copy of the CCL please see here. [Use of this document may be limited by © copyright ; by downloading you consent to our terms and conditions ]


Access this URL ( LearningNelson, L.J. (2010). Understanding coach learning. Loughborough: Loughborough University
Last Updated on Monday, 01 April 2013 14:06