Warming Up to Race: Exploring Foucauldian Inspired Coaching Practices in Swimming through Coach Development

  • Author / Creator
    Kindrachuk, Nathan
  • Currently, sport science is the dominant body of knowledge informing coach development, coach education (Cassidy, Potrac, & McKenzie, 2006; Cushion & Nelson, 2013; Jones & Turner, 2006; Piggott, 2012), and coaching research (Cassidy, Jones, & Protrac, 2009; Denison, 2007; Gilbert & Trudel, 2004). Research has shown, however, that sport science content from coach education courses can frequently be considered inappropriate for coaches’ actual contexts, which can be described as “messy realities” (Piggott, 2012). To learn how to address some of the challenges I experienced in the “messy reality” of my coaching context, I undertook a coach development process that was informed by Michel Foucault’s (1995) disciplinary techniques and instruments. My goal was to problematize my coaching practices using a number of Foucault’s concepts in order to make meaningful changes to my practices. More specifically, this thesis explored how, with a Foucauldian mindset, I planned and implemented: (1) training session warm-ups, (2) in-season competition warm-ups, and (3) peak competition warm-ups. My thesis addresses two issues discussed in the academic coaching literature. The first is that it provides a detailed account of my experience working with an academically informed mentor, my coach developer. My coach development process was unique because it involved a formal mentorship process, while most current coach development processes are coach education courses. The second issue in the literature that my thesis addresses is how my coach development process was guided by social theory (a novel approach to coach development) instead of sport science knowledge or normalized swim coaching practices. This thesis is located in the poststructuralist research paradigm. As I undertook an eight-week coach development process with my academically informed mentor, I recorded two types of field notes (Angrosino, 2007). The first were coach development field notes that included my observations from my meetings with my coach developer. The second were poolside field notes that focused on my experience implementing changes to warm-ups during my coaching practice. In my coaching context, I worked with Canadian high school swimmers who competed at a national level. My Foucauldian analysis (Markula & Silk, 2011) focused on providing thorough links between theoretical concepts, and themes observed in my two types of field notes. Seven aspects of my learning from the coach development process were important findings from this thesis. First, my experience in the coach development process was consistent with North’s (2010) research of one-on-one coach development processes as I gained confidence, and improved my planning skills, communication skills, and reflective skills. Second, during the coach development process, I learned that the daily context that I coach in greatly impacts my practice. Third, as I made changes to my practice as a part of the coach development process, I experienced high levels of stress when I perceived my credibility to be threatened. These moments occurred when sport science knowledge that I valued was challenged. Fourth, there were moments that I observed my own docility and docility in the athletes that I coached. Fifth, these challenging docile-making moments occurred most during times when I examined swimmers during competition warm-ups. Sixth, there were moments where I observed that the coaching modifications made as a part of my coach development process helped improve swimmer performance. Seventh and lastly, throughout the coach development process my relationship with sport science knowledge changed. Rather than relying wholly on specific concepts and taken-for-granted sport science concepts, I embraced the “messy reality” that I practice in and I also considered social perspectives when planning and implementing warm-ups. This thesis may impact researchers who study coaching using social theory as well as show how theory can be used to improve coaching practice.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2018
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
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