Introducing Coach Learners to Behaviourist Coaching Principles

Ben Ives, Lee Nelson, Laura Gale, Paul Potrac, John Toner

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


The purpose of this chapter is to explore how coach educators can and do teach coach learners about the key principles of behaviourism and their application to sport coaching practice. To achieve this goal, the chapter has been divided into four main sections. The first section provides a brief overview of behaviourist learning theory before discussing its implications for coaching practice and coach education provision. The second section introduces some of the key principles of operant conditioning, a main form of behaviourism, and how they may be applied in sport coaching contexts. The third section critiques and challenges the exclusive use of behaviourist learning principles in sport coaching practice. The fourth section offers suggestions for the practice of coach education. These recommendations urge coach educators to actively promote the qualities of connoisseurship among their learners. Each section also includes a reflective commentary from a practicing coach educator to simultaneously spark interest and illustrate the realities, dilemmas, and challenges educators face when trying to introduce coach learners to behaviourist learning theory. The chapter finishes with a short conclusion that summarises the central arguments and issues raised and supplies some critical questions to stimulate reflection on how coach educators may (or may not) introduce coach learners to behaviourist coaching principles.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Coach Development in Sport
EditorsSteven B Rynne, Clifford J. Mallett
PublisherRoutledge, UK
ISBN (Print)9780367750879
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2 Apr 2024


  • Coaching
  • Sport

Research Groups

  • Practice in Coaching & Teaching


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