“Praxticing” critical coaching: disrupting traditional youth sport coaching with social justice and critical consciousness
Dunwoody, Dana N.
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The current study explored coach training and experience, and individual identities and roles that youth sport coaches hold as well as how they enact social justice within youth sporting communities. Using convergent mixed-methods design, critical consciousness (Freire, 1970) was the theoretical framework and method of analysis for this study. Forty-seven participants responded to this open-ended survey; 85.1% of coaches reported coaching part-time, 59.5% of the sample were volunteer coaches, and 33% of coaches had less than 1–3 years of coaching experience. Findings revealed a majority White (69%) and Majority Male (61%) sample of youth sport coaches and described coaching identities were categorized into multiple and intersectional (Women of Color; n = 5) identities. Emic coding through cross-analysis of open-ended questions suggested a deeper understanding of coaches’ connection to community in relationship to how coaches described identities. These were coded as Coach-Centered Coaching , Limited Connection, or Synthesizing Connection. Furthermore, community-based sport coaches were engaging in and enacting social justice within youth sporting communities in ways that mirror critical consciousness patterns of dialogue, reflection, and action. The theoretical implications of this study expand the application of societal roles, more specifically the role of a youth sport coach to the theory of intersectionality. This study supports past literature that found that youth sport coaches are dissatisfied with the education they receive; thus these findings inform suggestions for how to make coaching education more relevant and accessible. Empirically, study findings suggest that the underresearched area of youth sport coaches’ identities may be related to the depth of connection coaches have to community, impacting the holistic developmental outcomes of participating youth athletes. Practically, this study delivers a critical pedagogy framework for community-based coaching education that blends the personal (identity and role development) and professional (coaching specific knowledges). Results of this study can inform future empirical research of youth sport coaching and intervention development that theoretically considers the integration of intersectionality with critical consciousness.
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