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The professionalisation of sports coaching: relations of power, resistance and compliance

Taylor, Bill and Garratt, Dean (2008) The professionalisation of sports coaching: relations of power, resistance and compliance. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper examines the changing landscape of professionalism in the field of sports coaching and is presented in response to the dearth of literature and lack of empirical research exploring contemporary practice in the field. This has created a professional context in which new meanings around discourses inhabiting the transitions towards professionalism are becoming increasingly rigid and inflexible. Policies have exacerbated this situation through imposed reforms that have sought to homogenise coaching practice, in the process glossing over difference and flouting cultural diversity. Though volunteerism may be regarded as a socially embedded activity, and one that is part of the UK’s coaching tradition, there remains an ambition to transform coaching into professionalized activity, with benchmarked standards, commercial engagement and formal accreditation. This agenda has brought about a series of treatments prescribing standardised solutions to otherwise unique and individualised professional challenges. In response, this paper adopts a more critical stance towards the professionalisation of sports coaching. It examines the tensions, power and resistance that are manifested in practice across different areas of sport, and moves to understand some of the key differences emerging between contemporary reforms, situated practice and coaching traditions. Drawing extensively on Bourdieuian and Foucauldian philosophy, the analysis reflects upon the experiences of coaches and stakeholders operating at the levels of voluntary and community-based practice in the north-west of England. It examines notions of resistance and compliance in situ, external factors that have impacted on sports coaching, and analyses the complexities that inhabit the profession as a whole.

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