MSc Applied Sports Coaching Students benefit from the CRiC MSc Coaching Club – Dr. Phil Kearney

In addition to their regular sessions, students on the MSc Applied Sports Coaching at the University of Limerick have a standing invitation to the Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) MSc Coaching Club. Every Friday lunchtime during each semester, a leading UK/Ireland researcher from the field of sports coaching leads an online seminar relating to their recent work. Attendance is only available to those attending a number of Master’s degree programmes at partner universities.  In this blog, I will provide an overview of some of the recent sessions within this Coaching Club.

What is the Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC)?

The Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) was formed at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2010 under the leadership of Professor Dave Day and Dr Bill Taylor with the aim of developing coaching scholarship in the fields of pedagogy, sociology, history and law.  The emergence of CRiC coincided with a surge in interest concerning the ‘professionalization’ of sports coaching.  In part, CRiC was formed to contribute to the furtherment of the ‘distinct and specialized body of knowledge’ – a key characteristic of a profession.

What have the MSc Coaching Club Sessions been about?

The Coaching Club began in September 2020, with the first session delivered by Dr. Anna Stodter. Anna described her work following English youth soccer coaches through their development, and in particular the filter process whereby individuals adopted, adapted and rejected elements of their experiences, leading to uneven learning in apparently similar situations. The subsequent discussion focused on how understanding the individual and contextual level ‘filters’ that coaches apply can enhance the design of coach development activities. You can find out more about Anna’s work here.

Cork native Dr Colum Cronin is currently working in Liverpool John Moores University. His specialist area is Care in Sports Coaching. While it is accepted that sport coaches should safeguard participants, Colum persuasively argues that coaches have a duty of care that moves beyond protection and involves the development of caring relationships with athletes. Within this discussion, Colum drew upon his extensive experience of case studies across a range of sporting contexts to explore how understanding and enacting Care is fundamental to sports coaching.

A core focus within all of the CRiC sessions is application to practice. Insights are provided not just from academics but also from professionals working within coaching and coach education contexts. Chris Nix provided an insight into his role analysing opposing teams, and communicating that information to coaching staff and players. For me, the most interesting aspect of Chris’ presentation were his reflections on the coach-analyst relationships – what makes an effective relationship, and how such relationships might be cultivated.

Recent years have seen a resurgence in research applying the Think Aloud method to examining sport performance and coach development. Dr. Amy Whitehead has been at the forefront of this research, particularly in relation to her work with cricket, golf, cycling, as well as with rugby league and soccer coaches. In the context of coaching, Think Aloud means verbalising your thoughts as they occur during the context of a session – what you are seeing, feeling, thinking. These thoughts are recorded and subsequently analysed for patterns; for example, are there particular aspects of the sessions that are attracting most of your attention? Are you engaging in sufficient depth of analysis? Together with Harley Simpson and Mark Haining, Amy illustrated the multiple ways in which Think Aloud could enhance coaching practice and coach development.

Most recently, Dr. Diane Culver presented a session on Building and Supporting Social Learning Spaces. Social Learning Spaces refers to the many different ways that individuals learn that are underpinned by three common assumptions: (1) humans are fundamentally social beings; (2) Learning is at the core of our existence; (3) As we learn, we become. Examples of Social Learning Spaces include Communities of Practice, mentorships, workshops, and online networks. Diane drew upon her extensive experience and the Value Creation Framework to describe how all of these learning opportunities can be enhanced.


The CRiC MSc Coaching Club has offered coaches attending the MSc in Applied Sports Coaching at the University of Limerick access to a range of additional guest speakers and different perspectives on topics related to their programme of study. If coaches cannot make the lunchtime sessions, recordings are available and can be reviewed as required. Furthermore, the Coaching Club offers the opportunity to interact with coaches from other programmes, such as when discussing ideas for research projects. The Coaching Club is an exciting collaboration for the MSc Applied Sports Coaching and we look forward to its continued growth.

Where can I read more about the MSc Applied Sports Coaching?

You can find out more about the MSc in Applied Sports Coaching at the University of Limerick here. You can also take a look at #MScAppliedSportsCoachingUL where you will find insights such as exemplar pre-course activities and examples of the type of research we will be engaging with.

If you are interested in the programme or require further information please contact:

Dr Philip Kearney PhD
Course Director – MSc Applied Sports Coaching
Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences
University of Limerick
Tel: 061 202844

Dr Phil Kearney is the Course Director of MSc. Applied Sports Coaching within the Department of Physical Education and Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick.  View Phil’s profile:

You can view Dr. Kearney’s research profiles on:

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