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Focusing on athletes’ experience of care in sport coaching

Sports Coaching Review Special Issue

Recent years have witnessed a steady increase in research related to the role of care within sports coaching. This agenda has contributed to a growing body of knowledge attempting to capture the ‘sincere engagements’ of coaches (e.g., Cronin & Armour, 2018). Positioning care as an essential aspect of sports coaching and pedagogy, the response to this agenda has resulted in organisations looking to value and capture athletes’ voices (see Grey-Thompson, 2017). For example, the Rugby Football League in the UK has established welfare officers in professional rugby clubs (Lewis, Rodriguez, Kola-Palmer, & Sherretts, 2018), the Australian Institute of Sport has established a new ‘Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement’ division, and the US Olympic Committee is overseen by Safe Sport USA. However, in the complex and power laden environment of sports coaching, it can often be difficult for athletes to express opinions, and thus, there may be a role for researchers to further explore care.

While welcome strides having been made within recent related research (e.g., Dohsten, Barker-Ruchti & Lindgren, 2018; Cronin, Knowles & Enright, 2019), much of this work remains coach-centric. Thus, an examination of the care(ful) experiences of athletes is a place most scholars are yet to venture leaving our understanding of care as very much partial and, to a certain degree, unproblematic (Fisher, Larsen, Bejar, & Shigeno, 2019). Indeed, without the voice of the athlete, actions that purport to be caring might be masking restrictive, or even abusive, control of individuals’ autonomy (Cronin, Walsh, Quayle, Whittaker, & Whitehead, 2018; Noddings, 2013). Central to this argument has been the work of Nel Noddings. Hence, for Noddings (2013), for caring acts to be effective, they need to be received and acknowledged as such. If, then, coaching practitioners and organisations are to strive for more ‘caring’ environments, it is essential that research collects, disseminates and analyses caring as a situated relationship. It is here that the significance of this special issue lies; that is, in (re)positioning athletes as active agents in caring coaching.

Accordingly, this special issue builds upon, although not is restricted to, Noddings’ framework by inviting contributions to;

  • Critically inform coaching practice by detailing athletes’ experiences of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ care (Articles that report the care experiences of athletes who may often be marginalised are particularly welcome).
  • Problematizing coaching in specific contextual circumstances by prompting dialogue between both agents in the dyad; i.e. athletes and coaches. For example, how to care for athletes who are deselected, injured or retired from the perspectives of both coaches and athletes?
  • Contribute to the theoretical understanding of care by exploring how caring relationships may be linked to athlete learning or sport performance.

The special issue responds to calls (e.g. Cronin & Armour, 2018;  Fisher, Larsen, Bejar, & Shigeno, 2019) for a relational examination of care that particularly values athletes’ voices, and serves their needs from both ethical and performance enhancement perspectives.


Sports Coaching Review

Table of Contents for Sports Coaching Review. List of articles from both the latest and ahead of print issues.

Language: en-US

Publisher: tandf

Visit Journal Articles

Submissions Information

Authors should follow the Instructions for Authors for details on how to submit their manuscript.

Word limit is 8,000, including all back matter.

Submissions should be submitted via our online submissions system.

Any questions can be sent in the first instance to Dr Colum Cronin (C.J.Cronin@ljmu.ac.uk)

Due date for Papers: 13th April 2020

Submit a Manuscript

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