Effective coaching in cricket, rugby league and rugby union : a qualitative investigation involving professional coaches and players from Australia.

Doctoral Studies Completed Theses - 2009 Archive

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Andrew Bennie

PhD thesis, conferred 2009

This study examines professional Australian coach and athlete perceptions of effective coaching. Rather than assess the ability or effectiveness of the coaches and teams involved, the purpose was to gather perceptions of what professional coaches and players believe it takes to be an effective coach. Given the broad range of tasks that fit under the auspice of coaching, an important question to address was ‘what’ a coach does in order to be considered effective. In addition, an understanding of ‘why’ and ‘how’ these factors are effective was also essential. These questions formed a starting point in order to find out what professional coaches do (including how they behave), and why players and coaches perceive certain coaching strategies to be effective.

This study employed a qualitative research design to identify perceptions about, and strategies of, effective coaching within the professional sport context. Interviews enabled participants to discuss their interpretations of the world in which they live, from their own point of view – a key feature of the present research. Observational data allowed me to view coaching behaviours and interactions with players in training and competition contexts. Using professional Australian coaches and players from cricket, rugby union and rugby league, 6 coaches and 25 players were interviewed while up to 16 coaches and 80 players were observed during 41 observation sessions at training and competition venues.

The constant comparative method (Côté, Salmela, Baria, & Russell, 1993; Côté, Salmela, & Russell, 1995b; Glaser & Strauss, 1967) was used to analyse the observation and interview accounts. This enabled rich descriptions of what effective coaches do as well as providing information regarding how and why they carry out certain actions.

Findings from the current research indicated that an effective coach possesses specific personal characteristics, qualities and skills as well as a general philosophy or direction for the team. The effective coach uses their own unique leadership, player management, communication and planning skills to create and maintain the team environment to ensure that everyone involved with the team ‘works off the same page’. The interaction of all these features leads to the primary goal of player development, improvement in player performance and winning matches. This thesis identified key perceptions and applications of effective coaching based on Australian professional coach and player experiences.

Supervisor: Associate Professor Donna O'Connor