An exploratory study of an in-situ coach development program and its implementation with coaches in a community-based sports setting
Hurley, David B.
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Volunteer youth coaches make up the majority of sport coaches in the United States, and therefore play a significant role in youth athletes’ experiences in sport. Recent data suggest that fewer than 30% of all youth coaches have received any coach training within the past year. Given coaches’ significant role in the youth development process, and the lack of training required of them, there is a need for innovative approaches to youth coach development in the United States. The purpose of this exploratory study was to implement a revised version of the Mastery Approach to Coaching (MAC) (Smith, Smoll, & Cumming, 2007) coach development program (CDP) (called the MAC-RGR), and to investigate coaches’ perceptions of the CDP. The MAC-RGR featured two notable adaptations from the original: (a) content was added from self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2017); and (b) a novel in-situ method of delivery was employed, based on the partnership principles used by instructional coaches (Knight, 2018) and the parallel process model used in supervising counseling psychologists (Vella, Crowe, & Oades, 2013). The CDP was presented to seven coaches over the course of a six-week summer program, featuring both formal group sessions and informal one-on-one coach interactions. Data were collected via multiple modalities (observations, interviews, and field notes), and explored coach’s perceptions of the training’s content, and their insights into the value of the in-situ delivery method. Data were analyzed using an interpretive description methodology (Thorne, 2013). Coaches demonstrated significant use of need-supportive behaviors, such as asking questions, and reported learning these from the training. Coaches also reported numerous benefits from the in-situ delivery model and the practical implementation of such an approach. A description of coach development that took place in real time is presented. Findings are considered in relationship to instructional coaching and the parallel process of coach education, where the relationship dynamics between coach and athlete are paralleled in the relationship dynamics between coach-educator and coach. Additionally, the nuances of developing coaches in community-based sport settings are portrayed. Practical implications and recommendations for alternative methods of delivery of coach development programs are discussed.
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