Investigating sources of coaching knowledge


Effective coaching has been defined as the consistent application of integrated coaching knowledge (Côté & Gilbert, 2009). Today, coaches are presented with a number of avenues through which knowledge can be acquired and refined. Researchers have investigated a variety of these sources ranging from formal learning opportunities (e.g., NCCP workshops) to informal experiences (e.g., learning by doing). This research replicated and extended past research (Erickson et al., 2008) to gain an up-to-date understanding of how coaches are presently gaining knowledge. Participants included 798 sport coaches (63% male; Mage = 41.27) who completed an online questionnaire detailing their previous use of (i.e., yes/no) and preference for (e.g., rating of 1-7) 16 potential sources of knowledge. This diverse sample of coaches varied in education, years of experience, competitive level, and came from 56 different sports. The top three most used sources of coaching knowledge were interacting with coaches, learning by doing, and observing others. In contrast, the top three preferred sources of knowledge were observing others, interacting with coaches, and having a mentor. Overall, the findings offer some similarities and differences with Erickson and colleagues (2008) and importantly highlight a trend toward unstructured and interactive sources of coaching knowledge. Coaches seemed to both use and prefer informal and nonformal sources of knowledge that allowed for some form of feedback and interaction with others, and displayed a preference for more mentorship opportunities than are currently being used. Researchers and coach developers should consider these findings when conceptualizing future coach learning opportunities.