Social and environmental factors affecting the learning and acquisition of knowledge among youth disability sport coaches


Nearly 5% of Canadian youth reported living with a physical disability (Employment and Social Development Canada, 2006). These youth are less likely to be physically active compared to youth without an impairment, which in turn affects their health and quality of life. Having youth with physical disabilities engaged in sport constitutes a way to increase their level of physical activity and improve their health. The acquisition of these benefits can be facilitated by the presence of trained and skilled coaches. The purpose of the study was to gain an understanding of the learning experiences and acquisition of knowledge of youth disability sport coaches. Five experienced youth disability sport coaches participated in individual interviews and the data were analyzed using a hierarchical content analysis. The inductive analysis revealed that the content of their learning was affected by various social and environmental factors such as their sporting background, access to coach certification, lack of financial resources, limited pool of players, poor sport promotion, and the individuals surrounding the youth disability sport environment. The current findings are of interest to coaches in youth disability sport since most research in this area has focused on elite or Paralympic coaches. Moreover, these results raise awareness of effective coaching practices in youth disability sport by providing direction and guidance on ways of acquiring this information. In fact, having more skilled coaches would enhance the sport experience of youth athletes with a disability, and hopefully encourage them to get more involved in sport.