Psychosocial coach development gaps in a strength and conditioning association

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

Project: Research project

Project Details


The United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) is an internationally-leading education and accreditation body for strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches with over 2600 members of whom 800 have attained the highly respected "Accredited Coach" standard. The UKSCA develops
coaches' professional knowledge in the biophysical and technological aspects of improving athletic performance (Gearity et al., 2020). Recently, research has suggested the importance of coaches' developing interpersonal and intrapersonal (psychosocial) knowledge as a means to effectively coach (Côté & Gilbert, 2009; Szedlak and Callary, 2018). The International Sport Coaching Framework
(ICCE, 2013) identifies coaching as an inherently relational activity, meaning that to increase biophysical performance in their athletes, coaches need to know how to motivate, work with, and support their athletes' learning. Such psychosocial knowledge is essential in helping coaches to integrate
their professional knowledge in working with others. Psychosocial knowledge includes psychological, cultural, pedagogical, philosophical, and sociological aspects of coaching. With current social issues around safe sport (e.g., Grey-Thompson, 2017), it is necessary for coaches to learn to navigate
interpersonal relationships between themselves, their athletes, and other support staff, as well as have awareness and insight into their own behaviours and actions. The UKSCA has identified that their stakeholders need to provide coach education in psychosocial skill development to ensure safe, ethically-inclusive, and positive experiences for sport participants. The goal of this project is to understand what the leaders of curriculum development, delivery, and
assessment in the UKSCA perceive to be important psychosocial skills when coaching and why, along with which psychosocial skills they possibly omit. Further, we will identify the extent to which psychosocial knowledge development is lacking from, and how it could be integrated into, the UKSCA coach education curriculum and accreditation process. The UKSCA has asked for this partnership with Dr. Callary, a Canada Research Chair in sport coaching and adult learning; the co-applicant, Dr. Szedlak, who has previous ties with the UKSCA and researches psychosocial S&C coaching; and the collaborator, Dr. Gearity, who is a prominent researcher in S&C coach development. The project will unfold in two phases: Between May and October, 2021, we willinterview 24 tutors, assessors, and board members (leaders in the UKSCA responsible for developing
and delivering coach education and assessing coaches' accreditation). In these interviews, building off Szedlak's research in effective S&C coaching, we will show video vignettes of S&C coaches displaying and not displaying psychosocial skills while coaching. Through a Think Aloud process (Whitehead et al., 2016), we will ask coaches to reflect on the psychosocial skills (or lack thereof) that they perceive in the videos. We will conduct a thematic analysis (Braun et al., 2019) to understand which psychosocial skills the leaders perceive to be important and which ones they overlook. In phase two (November 2021 to January 2022), we will conduct focus groups with the same participants from phase one. We will
debrief the findings of phase one and ask the leaders whether these psychosocial skills are currently learned in the UKSCA's coach education and how, and how psychosocial skills could be integrated into the accreditation process. Results will be presented and written up between February and April 2022. This project will significantly transform the field of S&C through its collaborations between researchers and practitioners to incorporate psychosocial knowledge development in coaching.
Effective start/end date1/3/211/2/23


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.