Special Issue Editors
A significant research focus over that last 40 years has been to systematically identify the behaviour of coaches and teachers using descriptive-analytical systems – systematic observation. Since the pioneering work of Tharp and Gallimore with legendary coach John Wooden (Tharp & Gallimore, 1976), a wide range of literature using systematic observation has evolved describing coaches’ behaviour in training and competition, with observation systems being used to compare coaches’ behaviour across a diverse range of sporting contexts. However, the process-product paradigm roots of this method meant that its findings have tended to ‘reduce’ and over-simplify the nature of coaching and homogenise coaching contexts. This has resulted in the criticism that systematic observation is too simplistic and stripped of context, thus not capturing the nuances and intricacies of coaches’ behaviour and their underpinning intentions and rationales. In this respect, it has been argued that simply ‘counting’ coaches’ behaviour and presenting it disaggregated from context, does not help coaches or researchers recognise patterns of actions that may go unnoticed, or give conscious attention to issues of pedagogical practice and practice design. In other words, what is being counted (maybe) does not count, if these factors are not accounted for.
Like, the wider educational field, coaching has embraced a paradigm shift to a more interpretive and subjective view of the nature of practice and practical experience. This has meant that systematic observation’s ‘what’ has often been supplemented with, or even replaced by, qualitative methods such as coach interviews to understand ‘why’. While addressing some of the issues with this method, problems in realising stated intentions remain. This is because retrospective interview-based studies reporting coaches’ perceptions of their behaviour do nothing to address coaches’ well-known tendencies to low self-awareness and the limitations of often overly optimistic self-reporting (Smith and Smoll, 2007; Partington and Cushion, 2013; Harvey, Cushion, Cope and Muir, 2013).
Perhaps then the question, therefore, lies not with the methods of systematic observation themselves, but how and when they have been deployed, and how they align with questions being asked about coaching. This special issue is about formulating ways to apply such observational methods to further understanding, changing and/or monitoring coach behaviour and advancing pedagogical applications for coaches. Consequently, we think this is an opportune time to bring researchers’ working in coaching behaviour together through welcoming the submission of methodological, theoretical and empirical papers which offer an original contribution to what we can say we know in this area. The intention of this special issue is to set a new precedent for research quality in coaching behaviour, and so we are especially keen to invite papers that reimagine existing methods whilst offering something different to what has gone before, thus exploring coaching behaviour(s) in new ways.
Authors should follow the “Instructions for Authors” found at https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=rspc20. Word limit is 8,000, including all back matter.
Online submissions should be sent to http://www.edmgr.com/rspc/default.aspx, and questions/discussion of ideas should be sent to Dr Ed Cope (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Professor Chris Cushion (email@example.com)