Call for Papers | “Professionalization of Sports Coaching from a Scandinavian Horizon”, Special Issue of Sport in Society | Call ends September 1, 2022

Guest Editors

Jørgen Bagger Kjær, Katarina Schenker and Bo Carlsson
Linnæus University, Växjö, Sweden


Modern sports coaching has evolved since the start of regulation and codification of sporting activities in the late 19th century. Today an estimated 5 to 9 million sports coaches are registered in the European Union and it has been recognized that sports coaching has the potential to contribute to the development of participants, communities and societies. As agents of the welfare state, coaches are required to explore new fields and professional networks. In this respect, sports coaching has become professionalized in terms of knowledge creation, development of common standards and increased accountability. Indeed, in many sports, elite coaches are required to be certified.

In this special issue we understand professionalization in the broadest sense. The process of professionalization entails, for example, the creation and development of a knowledge base and formal education system with a common language. It also requires a code of ethics: a set of ethical norms and a service ideal of commitment focusing on the client’s interests rather than the individual’s personal profit or interest. Professionalization processes will also affect the volunteer/recreational coaches. Today’s recreational coaches are expected to be knowledgeable of the sport that they coach and to understand and follow rules and regulations such as the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.

However, despite this development of sports coaching as a craft and the move in the direction of a blended profession, coaching research has existed for only 40–50 years. Research in the coaching field is multifaceted and covers several topic areas. In the research on the professionalization of sports coaching, there seems to be a significant gap in the literature. In addition, there is a need to explore and understand what professionalization means for sports coaching in relation to national, historical, cultural and social contexts. Lastly, it is important to engage in country-specific research to measure the impact of professionalization against social, recreational or elite sports, because how far a country has come depends on a range of contextual factors.

In addition, there is a need to explore and understand what professionalization means for sports coaching in relation to national, historical, cultural and social contexts.

This special issue departs from two crucial standpoints: First, in the Scandinavian/Nordic countries the professionalization of coaches has occurred parallel to a strong emphasis on idealism and voluntary work. Thus, this blend of professionalization and idealism has been a fertile soil for normative and organizational compromises as well as conflict. Secondly, social sciences – such as sociology, history, cultural studies, anthropology, didactics, socio-legal studies – seem to have a rather hidden or marginal position in the academic studies of coaching, whereas behavioral sciences, and thus psychology have had a tremendous impact on the field and the comprehension of the coaches. This special issue has the ambition to challenge and widen the contemporary understanding of the coach and coaching practices, particularly in relation to social issues, influences, culture and changes, by an imperative focus on social science.

In this Call for Papers we highlight and support contributions that take, in addition to the Scandinavian/Nordic horizon, its point of departure in social sciences, and thus, are inspired by topics such as: 

      • Sports Coaching as a (Social) Science, in light of Scandinavian Experiences
      • Sports Coaching regarding Natural and Rational Training
      • The History of Professional Coaches in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland
      • The Academization of Sports Coaching in Nordic Academia
      • Policy Initiatives to Strengthen Sports Coaching
      • The Nordic Coach in Relation to ‘Sport for All’ and Children’s Rights.
      • The Problems of Regulations and External Stakeholders in Relation to the Scandinavian Recreational Coaching model
      • Ethical Leadership and Inclusive Culture: The Proclaimed Virtues of the Scandinavian Championship Coaches
      • Professional Feedback and Language Use in Sports Coaching, from a Scandinavian Horizon
      • The Impact of an Increasing Commercialization of Sports Coaching
      • The Coach as Social Worker/Entrepreneur in the Scandinavian Way

Important dates

      • Call for abstract: May 15, 2022.
      • Deadline Abstract (approximately 600 words): September 1, 2022.
      • Acceptance of abstracts: September 15, 2022.
      • Paper, first draft: April 15, 2023.
      • Review and revision: April-August 2023.
      • Article, final manus: February 2024.
      • Submission to Sport in Society, March 2024.


Submission of abstract (approximately 600 words), no later than September 1:


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