Innovation in sports coaching: The implementation of reflective cards

Ceri Hughes, Sarah Lee, Gavin Chesterfield

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review


Despite the well‐supported concept that reflective learning leads to the nurturing of personal and professional development within sports coaching, the process is often overlooked by coaching practitioners due to the all too familiar barrier of time. As such, this paper is in line with recent calls to bridge the gap between ‘in’ and ‘after’ action reflections‐on‐practice. Specifically, the paper investigates the utility of reflective cards (r‐cards), based upon the perceptions of three equine sports coaches. Qualitative methods were employed through an action‐reflection inquiry process, involving the management of change whilst participants reflected in‐action over a six‐week period. Participants engaged in two reflective conversations via focus groups, where discussions included the use of the r‐cards (in‐action) and the r‐learning record sheets (on‐action). A procedure of both inductive and deductive content analysis elicited five emergent themes: the practicality of r‐cards; conscious awareness of the reflective process; development of craft knowledge; potential for coach development; commonality of reflective competencies. Results indicated that the r‐cards are a fast and focused way to reflect‐in‐action, allowing decisions to be brought into consciousness, thereby empowering coaches to take ownership of their practice whilst endorsing the need for coaches to be disciplined in their noticing. Consequently, National Governing Bodies of Sport (NGBs) and coach educators must be aware of the potential of using such methods to engage coaches in reflective learning in order to build upon and improve current coaching practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-384
Number of pages17
JournalReflective Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • reflection
  • r-cards
  • disciplined noticing


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