An exploration of how dominant discourses steer UK strength and conditioning coach education

Christoph Szedlak, Bettina Callary, Kimberley Eagles, Brian T. Gearity

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Psychosocial coaching competencies, including psychological, pedagogical, philosophical, and sociocultural aspects, which underpin an athlete-centred coaching approach, have been largely overlooked by the United Kingdom Strength and Conditioning Association (UKSCA) coach education. It is possible to understand why psychosocial competencies have been disregarded by critiquing how stakeholders’ perceptions, such as board members, tutors, assessors, who are responsible for coach education, have been shaped by dominant discourses within sport culture. The purpose of this study is to understand and critique UKSCA stakeholders’ perceptions of psychosocial coaching practices through the lenses of dominant discourses in Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaching. Thirty stakeholders took part in one-to-one semi-structured interviews. To prompt discussion for the interviews, they were shown video vignettes depicting psychosocial coaching competencies. The data were analysed in two phases. First, a thematic analysis deduced participants’ understandings of the competencies built into each vignette. Second, a poststructural discourse analysis critiqued how a performance-scientific coaching discourse and a discourse of orthodox masculinity impacted stakeholders’ perceptions. The results indicate that stakeholders’ perceptions of psychological and pedagogical effective coaching approaches focused on athletic performance, which disregarding the well-being and personal development of the athlete. Stakeholders also recognised overt sexist coaching practice, which suggest some appraisal of sociocultural and philosophical competencies. Yet, covert sexist microaggressions towards female coaches were often accepted as banter and female coaches’ emotional labour were not recognised. This study advances the literature by showing how the dominant culture of performance-scientific coaching and orthodox masculinity shape what is accepted as effective coaching practice. Such coaching practice de-emphasises psychosocial coaching competencies and limits the impact of equity, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) strategies, as well as the holistic development of both athletes and S&C coaches.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Education and Society
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 Feb 2024


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