Coaching philosophy: an orthodox and symbolic device

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Previous research on sports coaching and more specifically coaching philosophy has provided different frameworks and definitions. Instead of providing clarification and understanding, the current work is confusing and tends to overemphasise coaches’ agency and underplay structure while presenting rhetoric or ideological statements of intent rather than the constructions that influence coaching practice (Cushion & Partington, 2014). The aim of this study was is to investigate the construction of English youth football practice and to explore professional coaches’ understanding of 'coaching philosophy' and the influence it has on their practice. Data were collected in a case study from one purposefully sampled English youth football academy. The participants had a diverse range of educational backgrounds, playing backgrounds and coaching experience. To understand the construction of coaching practice a combination of methods were implemented, these included observations, semi-structured interviews and document analysis. Findings showed that coaching practice was both structured and structuring through the interrelationships of the coaches in the Football Academy and, more broadly, the associated coaches in the coaching field. Coaching was not based solely on the player's needs but instead on the logic of the coaching field. Coaches’ practice was thus positioned in a wider coaching context where the coaches needed to appreciate "how to play the game of culture" (Bourdieu, 1984; p.330) to maintain and advance their position and symbolic capital in the Football Academy. Coaches’ practice was, therefore, a largely unconscious and unreflective reproduction of the existing culture, tradition and knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring Research in Sports Coaching and Pedagogy
EditorsCharlie Crosby, Christian Edwards
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
ISBN (Print)I 978-1527528284
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Sport


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