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An analysis of the value of multiple mentors in formalised elite coach mentoring programmes

Sawiuk, R and Taylor, W and Groom, NR (2016) An analysis of the value of multiple mentors in formalised elite coach mentoring programmes. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy. ISSN 1742-5786


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Background: Within the context of sports coaching and coach education, formalised mentoring relationships are often depicted as a mentor–mentee dyad. Thus, mentoring within sports coaching is typically conceptualised as a one-dimensional relationship, where the mentor is seen as the powerful member of the dyad, with greater age and/or experience (Colley 2003). Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the concept of a multiple mentor system in an attempt to advance our theoretical and empirical understanding of sports coach mentoring. In doing so, this paper builds upon the suggestion of Jones, Harris and Miles (2009) who highlight the importance of generating empirical research to explore current mentoring approaches in sport, which in turn can inform meaningful formal coach education enhancement. The significance of this work therefore lies in opening up both a practical and a theoretical space for dialogue within sports coach education in order to challenge the traditional dyadic conceptualisation of mentoring and move towards an understanding of ‘mentoring in practice’. Method: Drawing upon Kram’s (1985) foundational mentoring theory to underpin a multiple mentoring support system, 15 elite coach mentors across a range of sports were interviewed in an attempt to explore their mentoring experiences. Subsequently, an inductive thematic analysis endeavoured to further investigate the realities and practicalities of employing a multiple mentoring system in the context of elite coach development. Results: The participants advocated support for the utilisation of a multiple mentor system to address some of the inherent problems and complexities within elite sports coaching mentoring. Specifically, the results suggested that mentees sourced different mentors for specific knowledge acquisition, skills and attributes. For example, within a multiple mentor approach, mentors recommended that mentees use a variety of mentors, including cross-sports and non-sport mentors. Conclusion: Tentative recommendations for the future employment of a multiple mentoring framework were considered, with particular reference to cross-sports or non-sport mentoring experiences.

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