Research Summaries for Coaches

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The sports coach UK Research Summary Series is designed to give coaches access to research that is often hidden away in academic journals. Below you will find links to summaries of 39 journal articles published between 2013 and 2016 with ideas on how the theory can be applied. Just click on a title to read more.

No1 More than Just Physical Maturity. How coaches, parents and children all influence the Relative Age Effect

New research from Canada suggests coaches, parents and children all influence the Relative Age Effect (a term to describe how top level sport is often dominated by players born at certain times of the year). This summary looks at three models used frequently in business and management that help explain the Relative Age Effect. Read it here.

No2 How a Coach’s Reputation Influences Player Behaviour

New research from academics in the UK suggests that the old adage of ‘first impressions count’ is very much alive and kicking in sport. This article provides a summary of how players will change their behaviour depending upon how they view the coach. Read it here.

No 3 Applied Attention-related Strategies for Coaches

How can attention help players improve their sporting performance? This summary presents four attention-related strategies that have been prominent in attention-related research for many years. Each strategy is explained in a sporting context, including an example that aims to show coaches how these methods can be applied within their coaching. Read it here.

No 4 Developing Team Captains

Every team needs a leader. This is not just another sporting clich̩, but something that has been demonstrated by research. Given that only 30% of leadership is hereditarily based Рin other words, leaders are made and not born Рhow much time do you spend developing the leadership skills of your captain? This summary presents ideas for developing leadership skills in captains based on interviews with identified experts in this field. Read it here.

No 5 The Art of Goal Setting

Sport psychologists are often seen as the people who appear when a team or player is having a problem. However, psychological strategies, such as goal setting, have been shown to have a powerful effect on behaviour at all times. This summary looks at new research from a sport psychologist working with a young footballer in Denmark. Beyond showing the work of psychologists in sport, it also provides coaches with guidance in the art of goal setting. Read it here.

No 6 Communicating with Players During a Match

What can we learn from how elite level coaches communicate with their players during competitive matches? The answer: well, quite a lot, as a team of academics from France, the UK and Australia found out in 2013. This Research Summary describes the research and looks at what coaches can take from the results. Read it here.

No 7 Emotional Coaching

Keeping your emotions under control is a key element of sporting success. This summary looks at how coaches control their emotions and how these can be influenced by internal and external pressures. Read it here.

No 8 Intuition and Coaching

Intuition is not a magical ability but an important decision-making tool that can be learnt by anyone. This summary explains the route map to intuitive thinking and expertise in coaching. Read it here.

No 9 Balancing the Use of Humour in Coaching

Until now, humour has received very little attention in sports coaching research. A new paper from researchers in Norway aims to change all that by highlighting just how useful humour can be when understood and used correctly. But be warned – using humour is a balancing act. Read it here.

No 10 Coaching as a Performance

Are coaches like actors? This research looks at one high performing coach who studied as an actor to give ideas for all coaches about communication and interacting with athletes. Read it here

No 11 Using Critical Reflection to Become a 'Good Coach'

Although critical reflection is important for any coach wanting to improve, it can often be more difficult than expected to put into practice. This summary provides ideas that might help any coach. Read it here

No 12 Motivating Athletes in the Off Season

What does a coach need to think about before they develop an off-season training programme for their players? This summary looks at what happened when a programme was introduced to an American football team in a US College. Read it here 

No 13 Increasing Young People’s Motivation to Play through Coaching

New research shows strategies for youth sport coaches to provide fun sporting experiences, and shape positive relationships between the young people they coach. Read it here

No 14 Communication Preferences and Styles  of coaches

This summary looks at new research with coaches and athletes to show how communication can vary by coach, gender of athlete and type of sport . It suggests how understanding your own communication style can imporve your coaching. Read it here

No 15 Maintaining Athlete Well-being in Talent Development

New research on the connection between the quality of talent development environments and the psychological well-being of athletes. Read it here

No 16 Embracing the Coaching Paradox

Coaching needs to adopt a theory of paradox to truly understand what a coach does and therefore to improve coaching practice. This summary provides an overview of the concept of paradox and how a coach can embrace the paradox. Read it here

No 17 Self Compassion Strategies for Coaching

We generally accept that athletes can be ultra-critical of themselves in order to be the best that they can be. But what if we challenged that notion by encouraging them to be more compassionate towards themselves, and less obsessed with perfecting their craft? This summary provides ideas for using self compassion theory in coachng. Read it here.

No 18 How to Coach a Narcissist

One aspect of motivational climate research yet to receive the same level of attention is the role of personality. For example, what impact would a narcissistic personality have on different motivational climates, and what could a coach learn to help them manage such situations? These questions are examined in this research summary. Read it Here

No 19 Bringing New Players into Your Team

How can a coach manage the smooth transition of new players into a team? New research from Canada uses theories from business to describe a mix of formal and informal processes that any coach could adopt. Read it Here 

No 20 Orchestrating Success

The responsibility of a coach is not just to prepare athletes for competition but also to help them through the action. Research with Olympic athletes has shown coach behaviour during competition can have both positive and negative effects on performance. New research with successful coaches has identified what coaches can do during competition. The results suggest a theory of orchestration as a useful approach to understand coaching during competition. Read it Here

No 21 The Importance of Reflection for Parasport Coaches

Plenty of research exists around reflection and how coaches use the technique to develop their coaching practice. However, there is far less evidence around the use of reflection by parasport coaches. Do the different challenges they face with their athletes lead to different approaches to reflection? Or is their reflective practice comparable to coaches working with non-disabled athletes? Read it Here  

No 22:  Helping players cope with the stress of injury

When a player experiences an injury it can be a very stressful time. The question is, how do coaches help their players manage the stress in these situations? This summary, based on new research from academics in America, provides a range of strategies that coaches can use to actively help players alleviate the stress caused by sporting injuries. Read it Here

No 23: Understanding Naturalistic Decision Making

How do individuals in high-profile or high-pressure environments make decisions at key moments? Is it purely intuition, or is there a more advanced cognitive process taking place that others in similar roles could learn from? New research from a team of academics in America and the UK argues that in high-performance sports coaching, the latter view is true. Decision making is a cognitive process that coaches can develop their understanding of in order to enhance their expertise. This summary explains how the researchers examined high-performance sports coaches’ decision making using the Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) framework. Read it Here

No 24: Asking good questions and Games-based activities

The questions a coach asks can have a major influence on how much their players or athletes learn. This summary of a recent journal article shows how theories of learning can be applied by coaches in a Games-based Approach to stretch learning beyond what players can achieve on their own. Asking the correct question is critical to success, and the researchers provide practical guidance to help coaches plan, implement and review their questioning skills. Read it Here

No 25: Intervention Tone and Coach-athlete Relations

New research from Canada has shown that coaches will often individualise their behaviour and tone for different people in a coaching session. However, the outcomes of such a strategy are not always as intended. Sometimes the best intentions can have unintended consequences. Read it Here

No 26: Strategies for Dealing with Eating Disorders Among Athletes and Players

Eating disorders are more prevalent in sport than other areas of society, and coaches are well placed to identify issues early and encourage people to seek help. However, new research has identified that coaches will take many different approaches, with varying degrees of success. Read it Here

No 27: How Perceptions of Home Advantage Can Influence a Coach

It is generally accepted that games played away from home are more difficult to win than those played in front of your own crowd. This phenomenon, known as ‘home advantage’, has received plenty of attention from supporters and media alike. But how does home advantage influence a coach’s approach? New research from a team of academics in Germany used an online football management game to find out. Read it Here

No 28: How Youth Sport Coaches Can Create Environments to support Vulnerbale Young People

Coaches can play an important role in the development of life skills among young people who are often excluded from society. New research from the Netherlands has used theories from sociology to present a method for coaches to help create the right environment so young people can have fun but also learn to manage the stresses of everyday life. Read it Here

No 29: Observing Elite Coaching Behaviour in Different Contexts

Microscopes enable us to magnify materials and analyse the composition of their structures on tiny scales – their microstructures, in other words. Now, imagine for a minute we have a microscope that can be used to magnify a social process, such as coaching. As well as showing us how coaches behave, the ability to magnify could add further layers of detail such as how their specific behaviours change in different contexts. Read it Here

No 30: Learning from Reflective Leaders

A new research study conducted by a highly experienced executive coach, focusing on seven UK-based leaders who see reflection as a key part of who they are, provides coaches in sport and physical activity with an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of reflection and ideas on how to successfully engage in it. Read it Here

No 31: The Pitfalls of Questionning

The use of questioning has many advantages as a coaching tool, and research shows it is being used more by coaches. However, new research from academics in England suggests the style of questioning often only upholds existing coaching norms that the coach is the person who holds all the answers. This summary looks at some of the common pitfalls in questioning that were identified in the research. Read it Here

No 32: Moving to Games Sense - One Coach's Story

Moving from a traditional, instructional coaching approach to games-based coaching is hard work. New research from Australia has followed the season-long journey of one coach as he attempts to change his coaching style. It provides a useful insight into what it actually takes to change a coaching style. Read it Here

No 33: Coaching Dads - Understanding What Fathering Through Sport Could Mean for Coaches

Most coaches will have strategies for working with young players’ fathers, do they consider the implications of fathers who are using sport as a site for undertaking their parenting role? New research from a team of academics in America can help coaches understand the idea of fathering through sport, as well as the implications it could have for their own coaching experiences. Read it Here

No 34: Mentoring

Researchers in America conducted research around mentoring of coaches. They found that the most effective mentoring roles involved a mix of social support and future career support, with the role changing depending on the experience of the mentee. Read it Here 

No 35: Coaching Siblings

Sibling success in sport has become arguably more prevalent in recent years following the achievements of the Williams sisters and the Murray and Brownlee brothers, to name just a few. However, while their sporting success is there for all to see, less is known about the influence the siblings had on each other when growing up and taking part in sport and physical activity. New research from academics in America aims to broaden our knowledge by providing children’s coaches with a better understanding of sibling influence, as well as some practical tips to consider when coaching siblings.  Read it Here 

No36: Coaching, injury and guilt

At some point in their careers, most coaches will experience one of their players suffering a serious injury. However, what advice exists to help coaches deal with the experience of players being injured? Specifically, if coaches feel guilt, what psychological impact can that have on them, and how does their management of this guilt affect their approach to coaching? New research from academics in the UK aims to answer some of these questions and aid the reflective process for coaches who find themselves in similar situations in future. Read it Here

 Research Summary No37 Power Bases in Coaching

It is generally accepted in sport that you do what the coach says. But where does this stem from, and does it always lead to positive outcomes and satisfied participants? New research from Sweden suggests that power plays a key role in coaching relationships, with some types of power producing better results than others. Read it Here

Research Summary No38 Correcting Errors in Sport

Picture the scene – you’re coaching and have noticed an error. What is the best way to correct it? New research suggests a style of show rather than tell may be most effective. Re-enactments that show the athlete what the coach has seen can help the instruction process. Read it Here

Research Summary No39 Coaches as Physical Role Models

Do coaches see themselves as physical role models for their participants and therefore act accordingly? A new study from academics in America argues physical role modelling should be viewed as a key part of a coach’s roles and responsibilities, as well as providing practical examples of how coaches can present themselves as positive physical role models for their participants. Read it Here

Research Summary No40 Using Online Technology to Analyse Team Performance

New research from the University of Worcester has suggested the shift towards the use of online, video-based coaching systems is part of an inevitable evolution in coaching practice in the digital era. With this in mind, the researchers sought to find out how coaches are using video coaching platforms to facilitate collaborative performance analysis between players and coaches. The research found both positive and negative aspects of this digital coaching, with the ultimate challenge not being the technology, but how the technology is used by coaches. Read it Here

Research Summary No41 A Tool for Developing Young Players’ Mental Skills

Coaching young players in organised sport gives coaches both the opportunity to influence young people’s experiences and a responsibility to assist in their development. A team of academics in America suggest the word ‘development’ in the youth sport coaching context has traditionally meant developing physical, technical and tactical skills rather than the mental skills that can help young players cope with stress and enhance their performance. This new study responds by providing coaches with a practical evidence-based tool to integrate the development of mental skills into their training sessions. Read it Here

Research Summary No42 How Coaches Can Learn from Psychology to Analyse the Self

There is no shortage of coaching research to help coaches learn and find new ways to improve their craft. However, coaches should not limit their search for new learning to within the confines of coaching literature alone. Coaching is a social pursuit, and as such, there are many other disciplines that provide learning opportunities. Psychology is just one example. In this research summary, an academic in Canada interprets the work of a leading self-insight psychologist to provide guidance to coaches when analysing themselves. Read it Here


























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