Implementing psychosocial coach development in a strength and conditioning association

  • Szedlak, Christoph (PI)
  • Callary, Bettina (CoI)
  • Gearity, Brian T. (CoI)
  • Eagles, Kimberly (Student)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The UKSCA is the national leader and one of only a few major international accreditation associations globally within Strength and Conditioning (S&C). In a previous ground-breaking project (from heron referred to as phase one) funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (Canada), we collaborated with the UKSCA to examine stakeholders’ perception of the importance of psychosocial (psychological, pedagogical, philosophical, sociocultural) coaching competencies. This was the first funded research that examined an area other than biophysical-technological science to develop effective S&C coaching practice. We engaged with over 95% of the UKSCA’s stakeholders, who are responsible for curriculum development. This is significant and highlights how we built a strong, collaborative relationship that, in future project, would allow us to impact on policy and curriculum development. We used a participatory action research approach (Markula & Silk, 2011), which consists of a cyclic process of planning change, implementing change and reflecting on change. The aim for phase one was to plan change, with suggestions for implementation. Our findings highlighted that stakeholders perceived psychosocial competencies to be important and integral to S&C coaching practice (Callary et al., 2022). Furthermore, we identified sociocultural considerations, where current accepted S&C coaching practices (i.e., behaviours, language, attitudes) are impacted by the dominance of hegemonic masculinity (Szedlak et al., 2022). These findings strengthen previous research (e.g., Thomas et al., 2022) and are a call to action for S&C associations. However, the UKSCA, as well as other S&C associations (e.g., NSCA), have so far failed to successfully implement strategies that develop psychosocial competencies in their curricula (Gearity et al., 2020).

Our strong, established relationship with the UKSCA, enables us to collaboratively pursue how to best implement these findings in their curriculum and policies. Thus, this project will follow on directly from phase one and address the ‘implementing change’ of the PAR. The implementation phase, requires significant planning based on collaborative decisions to encourage organizational change (Markula & Silk, 2011). So far, within coach development, research regarding how to more effectively implement such institutional change is limited. Together we will develop an implementation plan, which will clearly outline a summary of the interventions, a knowledge mobilization plan, expected outcomes and goals, the organizations contribution, and participants involvements (i.e., working with the existing committees such as Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity and establishing a working group of stakeholders). Following on, and to pilot the implementation phases, we would target one small area the UKSCA identifies as doable within this project’s timescale. We then work together through the PAR cycle of implementation, reflection, and evaluation. Overall, we would aim to work with around 20 participants. This will include the use of focus groups to receive feedback from accredited S&C coaches. In addition, we will conduct, in-depth purposeful, unstructured interviews to engage with key stakeholders (those who have the power to promote and implement change) to examine their perspective of the pilot’s effectiveness. As a result, we will be able to implement change more effectively within the curricula and policies of the UKSCA.
Effective start/end date1/1/2331/7/23


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