Carefully supporting autonomy – learning coaching lessons and advancing theory from women’s netball in England.

C. Cronin, B. Walsh, L. Quayle, Eleanor Whittaker, A. Whitehead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)
127 Downloads (Pure)


Back to Netball (BTN) is an initiative that encourages women, whose engagement has lapsed, to return to regular Netball participation. This study explores what aspects of coaching practice within BTN are perceived to be effective. A thematic analysis of semi-structured interviews with 28 BTN participants and 6 coaches was undertaken. Analysis identified four pertinent themes; 1) participants personalising sporting experiences through choice, 2) coaches facilitating and / or directing participants to relevant opportunities, 3) critical considerations of autonomy; a need for balance, 4) caring as a coaching ethic. For the benefit of coaches working with mass participation foci, these themes are elucidated with grounded examples. The subsequent discussion considers autonomy and care as two relevant theoretical explanations. Within the discussion, it is posited that autonomy supportive behaviours and caring relationships may be symbiotic features of successful coaching. A novel interdisciplinary theoretical contribution is therefore made by connecting Self Determination Theory with the burgeoning recognition of coaching as a caring practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalSports Coaching Review
Early online date21 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jan 2018


  • Coaching
  • netball
  • care
  • Self-determination theory
  • autonomy


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