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Sport psychology: another cuckoo in the coaching nest

Day, Dave (2006) Sport psychology: another cuckoo in the coaching nest. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Victorian sportsmen referred to their sports as “scientific” but scientifically determined training regimes are comparatively modern and coaching was considered an art, just as much as a science. Coaching operated as a trade or a craft with the typical coach relying on experience, traditional authorities, and specialised knowledge gathered through observations. In particular, experiential learning taught these craft coaches much about both physiological and psychological issues. However, late nineteenth century programmes for physical educationalists enabled academics in anatomy, physiology of exercise, anthropometry, motor development, and psychology, to establish themselves as gatekeepers of this specialist knowledge. Psychologists, for example, rigorously promoted their own work and, by 1921, psychology was represented by a professional organisation, professional journals, college and university courses, laboratories for research, and programmes within universities leading to advanced degrees. As sport psychology became a disciplinary subculture, similar structural controls were established. The professionalisation of sports psychology, and other sport sciences, led inexorably to the exclusion of craft coaches from the knowledge transfer process. Current initiatives to professionalise coaching further consolidate the position of academics by centralising their “expertise”. Aspiring coaches are educated to expect that science will supply them with short cuts to knowledge and coaching credibility is only awarded to those who progress through science orientated coach education programmes.

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