Maintaining Professional Face: Deceptive Impression Management in Community Sport Coaching

LEE NELSON, David Shulman, Paul Potrac, Laura Gale, Ben Ives

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


This article breaks new ground in the sociology of sports work through its novel exploration of workplace deception and the associated development of an original typology of deceptive impression management. Analysis of data collected from a two-phased research design, comprising online interviews and survey responses from 102 participants, revealed that community sport coaches employed deceptive impression management to display emotional control, an ideal practice of their work, and to feign expert knowledge. These types of deceptive impression management consisted of disguising disdain, flattering insincerely, camouflaging alternative approaches, covering-up mistakes, hiding a lack of expected knowledge, and reporting favourable metrics. Drawing on theories of dramaturgical analysis (Goffman, 1959, 1967, 1974) and emotional labour (Hochschild, 1979, 1983) as used in constructing a professional image, we examine how the coaches used deception to cope with challenging work circumstances that endanger projecting a professional appearance. The present article not only advances our sociological understanding of sports work but raises important questions for the preparation, development, and support of sports workers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Education and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8 Apr 2024


  • Deception
  • Sport Coaching
  • Sport Work
  • Impression Management
  • Emotion Management

Research Groups

  • Practice in Coaching & Teaching


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