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    Sport psychology: another cuckoo in the coaching nest

    Day, Dave (2011) Sport psychology: another cuckoo in the coaching nest. [Conference or Workshop Item] (Unpublished)


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    Victorian coaches and athletes often referred to their training regimes as ‘scientific’ but the impact of experimental science on coaching programmes was minimal and coaching was considered an art as much as a science. Coaching operated as a trade or a craft with the typical coach relying on traditional practices, experience, and the ability to innovate. In particular, experiential learning taught these craft coaches much about both physiological and psychological issues. However, late nineteenth century programmes for physical educationalists in America enabled academics in psychology to gradually establish themselves as gatekeepers of this specialist knowledge. Psychologists subsequently promoted their work vigorously and, by 1921, they had created a professional organisation, professional journals, and university courses. As sport psychology became a disciplinary subculture, similar structural controls were established. Aspiring coaches now expect science to supply them with short cuts to knowledge and coaching credibility is only awarded to those who progress through science orientated coach education programmes. This paper suggests that the professionalisation of sports psychology, and other sport sciences, led inexorably to the exclusion of craft coaches from the knowledge transfer process and that current initiatives to professionalise coaching will further consolidate the position of academics by centralising their ‘expertise’.

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