An investigation of the practice activities and coaching behaviours of professional top-level youth soccer coaches

Mark Partington, C Cushion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

88 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to investigate the coaching behaviours of elite English youth soccer coaches in different practice settings and gain insight into the coaches’ cognitive processes underpinning these behaviours. The practice setting was split into two types of activities, ‘training form’ and ‘playing form’, and behavioural data were collected using a modified version of the Coaching Analysis and Intervention System (CAIS). Interpretive interview data were triangulated with the behavioural data to ensure that both the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the coaches’ behaviour and practice were considered. The results showed the coaches using more ‘training form’ activities than ‘playing form’, and using high levels of prescriptive instruction, regardless of practice type, in contrast to a stated desire to ‘developing the whole player’, creating ‘decision makers’ and being a ‘facilitator of knowledge creation’. The interviews revealed that the coaches had a low self-awareness about their behaviour with an epistemological gap identified between understanding and practice, with statements of intent not being matched by knowledge and action.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-382
JournalScandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sep 2011



  • Coaching behaviour
  • systematic observation
  • practice type
  • soccer
  • youth.

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