chapter  1
17 Pages

Introduction

When the first edition of this book was penned, a case was still being made for coaching to be recognized as a pedagogical and social enterprise. Over ten years later, this perspective is much more widespread and accepted. For example, Kirk (2010), in arguing for coaching to be viewed as a socio-pedagogical practice, reiterated an earlier point made by one of us that coaching at all levels really is about athlete learning (Jones 2006a and b). Drawing on the work of Mauss (1973) who stated that ‘there is no technique and no transmission in the absence of tradition’ (cited in Kirk 2010: 166), Kirk tied learning to both culture and society. Such a view positions coaching as a social construction, in that all ‘techniques of the body’ are socially learned. It is a stance supported by Loland (2011), who argued that coaches socialize athletes into the movement schemes of their sport; a process often carried out by instruction and using other ‘good’ athletes as positive role models. It would make sense, therefore, to view coaching as a social, relational and pedagogical practice; that is, an activity between people within a cultural context. As we have previously argued, this pedagogical aspect can most obviously be seen when working with young athletes, where a degree of mastery or general understanding is needed for meaningful participation to occur. However, it is also evident when working with elite athletes where adjustment

to technique or the implementation of novel attacking or defensive strategies is required. Naturally, such a position takes issue with the continuing division of coaching by some into various artificially constructed ‘domains’ (i.e. ‘performance’, ‘developmental’ and ‘participation’). Of course, we are not advocating that coaches behave the same way in all contexts. Rather, we question if coaching can be so divided in terms of the given lines of demarcation? For example, if such lines are based on chronological age, where do early specialization sports like swimming and gymnastics fit, where teenagers are regularly Olympic medalists? It also begs the question: once athletes graduate to the performance realm, do they stop developing? (They certainly don’t stop participating!) The case made here is that overarching all coaching, whatever the athletic level, is the goal of athlete learning. This was the case put forward by Carl Rogers in his philosophy of education, where the pedagogical principles given were applicable regardless of age or ability of the learner(s) in question (Nelson et al. 2012).