Publication: An investigation of team sport coaches’ planning practices in a high-performance setting: A pedagogical perspective

Research Impact Summary: This research has added to the literature by providing an in-depth description of the planning of coaching sessions within a high-performance team sport context. It has revealed planning to be a multifaceted and complex process that requires the coach to make many pedagogical decisions. Coaches provided a detailed rationale for the construction of the session content with their use of games and in particular use of full-sided games featuring prominently in session plans. Coaches provided sophisticated examples of conditions utilised within their activity design to suggest clear intentions to impact players’ learning. The purposeful implementation of mimicking opposition characteristics (representation), overload offensive games to develop technical skill (exaggeration) and within-task scaffolding address a gap in the GBA literature by demonstrating the implementation of pedagogical principles in a high-performance team sport environment. Despite strong indications of coach engagement with pedagogy in their session planning, the findings revealed missed opportunities in the pedagogical planning process with coaches failing to provide explicit learning intentions for session plans, inattention to sequencing, and limited small-sided game designs. Coach engagement with underpinning pedagogical theory may instil a greater pedagogical responsibility for coaches when planning thus providing the coach with an increased awareness of possible strategies to include when planning.

Accordingly, this study offers support for the utilisation of CLT as a learning theory to guide and explain the decisions coaches make throughout their planning process. Few studies have overtly used CLT as a guiding theoretical framework. This research demonstrates the potential of CLT as an effective lens to understand GBAs, and how it also may be used to stimulate coaches’ awareness to plan coaching sessions which engage the players in social and adaptive forms of learning. Coaches need to consider a substantial amount of information in advance to plan a session. However, not all of this information was deemed as facilitating coaches’ planning, with many coaches expressing frustrations with the need to concede on initial planning ideas in order to satisfy physiological markers set out by S&C coaches. These findings are novel to the coaching pedagogy literature, highlighting the significant influence of the S&C coach and growing information coaches must factor into their planning. While these forms of information are an important part of the contemporary team sports coaching set-up, such information should not compromise the learning objectives of the session when designing the plan. Finally, the study presents a number of contemporary developments and perspectives, in particular relating to sequencing, for how pedagogical models such as GBAs may be updated to facilitate their application and uptake within high-performance coaching settings.

Kinnerk, P., Harvey, S., Kearney, P., and Lyons, M. (2021) An investigation of team sport coaches’ planning practices in a high-performance setting: A pedagogical perspective. Sports Coaching Review 2. DOI: 10.1080/21640629.2021.1990653.

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