Fostering quality parasport programs: A collective case study of model coaches in parasport


Considering the important yet under-investigated role of coaches in parasport, the purpose of this study was to examine coaches' real-time thought processes and behaviours in fostering quality programs for athletes with disabilities. In doing so, we sought to identify successful or effective (i.e., model) parasport coaches and offer an in-depth investigation into how they shaped successful programs. Model coaches were identified through nominations from athletes and administrators within Canadian parasport organizations. Six coaches met the inclusion criteria and agreed to participate, representing individual and team sports from grassroots to high performance. During four training sessions, the lead researcher shadowed each coach while observing and asking questions. Subsequently, coaches, assistant coaches, and their athletes participated in semi-structured interviews to triangulate perceptions of quality parasport programming, and the coach's role in fostering it. Aligning with a collective case study methodology, each team (i.e., case) was independently thematically analyzed, and the results were compared. Across cases, themes corresponded to individual (e.g., knowledge, experience), interpersonal (e.g., interactions, behaviours), environmental (e.g., program structure, learning processes), and cultural (e.g., expectations, values) levels of the coach's influence. Each coach played a foundational role in the development of the program; their philosophical beliefs and vision for the team corresponded to the implementation of core values that translated into quality experiences for athletes at each level. Findings will be discussed in relation to the Quality Parasport Participation Framework (Evans et al., 2018), thus extending theoretical knowledge of effective parasport coaching and offering practical implications for coaches across developmental contexts.