Sinfield D & Allen J (2017) Coaching in non-competitive paddlesport environments: Expert coaches' perceptions of the key coaching skills and how they are developed. ICCE Global Coach Conference, Liverpool, England, 31.07.2017-02.08.2017. https://www.icce.ws/events.html
Efforts to understand the coaching process and how coaches’ skills develop, with an aim to inform coach education, have typically examined coaches of ‘traditional’ competitive sports (e.g., Côté, Salmela, Trudel, Baria & Russell 1995; Cushion, Ford & Williams 2012; Nash & Sproule, 2009; Nash, Sproule, & Horton, 2011). Coaching in non-competitive environments such as those found in adventure sports, including paddlesports (e.g., canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding) is less well understood. In addition, despite diversity in paddlesport coaching (e.g., a white water kayaker travelling the globe, a school child having a day on a lake as part of an outdoor educational experience), some courses in British Canoeing’s coach education qualification scheme bring together coaches from all non-competitive and competitive contexts. This is based on an assumption that, at its core, coaching has a common skill set to which technical content and appropriate contextualisation can be added (British Canoe Union 2010). The purpose of this study was to test this assumption, specifically to examine the expert coaches’, working in non-competitive coaching environments, perceptions of the key coaching skills and how they developed.
Participants: A purposive sample of 17 male British paddlesports coaches (n=6 Full-time professionals; n=6 volunteer club coaches; n=5 coaches working in educational settings) were recruited based on specific selection criteria. They had between 11 and 49 years’ experience coaching in their respective context.
Data collection and analysis: Semi-structured interviews with each coach were used to explore perceptions of the skills required for coaching in their non-competitive environment and how these skills were developed. The interviews were analysed using a thematic analysis approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Themes were developed for each coaching environment and them compared and contrasted.
Results and Discussion
Coaching skills common to all three groups of coaches included: reflective practice, effective decision making, creativity, flexibility and highly developed interpersonal skills. For all three groups developing these skills involved learning through doing and being part of a community of practice. Notable differences between groups included motivations to start coaching, the extent to which developing participants’ independence was viewed as an important in their role, and the importance of personal performance ability. Findings will be discussed in relation to Collins and Collins (2015) taxonomy of the roles of adventure sport coaches and implications for coach education to meet the differing needs of coaches will also be discussed.