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Qualitative Research

By undertaking focused exploratory qualitative research, the perspectives from a range of coaches as well as children and young people have been gathered, to inform and inspire initial campaign development for the Children’s Coaching Collaborative (CCC) movement

We have spoken to over 60 coaches covering a range of sports and activities.

The aims of this phase of research were to:

  • understand existing attitudes of coaches 
  • explore approaches to coaching children and young people
  • identify barriers to adopting a more child-first approach and how the movement could help overcome these.

We captured some of the feedback from coaches in the short film above and in the summary below. This video illustrates where coaches are today, reflecting on current beliefs and challenges and therefore the context and barriers to a child-first approach. 

The majority of coaches we spoke to expressed a real love for their role as a coach and feel rewarded by it. Many recognise their role provides much more than just sports tuition, equipping youngsters with transferrable skills that go above and beyond technical sporting prowess.

We found a range of different motivations for why they became  a coach, including:

  • Parenting: volunteers who have got involved with a local team which their child is part of. 
  • Community-led: a desire to support and contribute to a local community.
  • Love of Sport: passionate/enthusiastic about sport and want to pass on a love for the game. 
  • A New Start: have got into coaching/sport as a new career.
  • ‘A Calling’: see coaching as a career, studied sports and take personal and professional development seriously.

Coaching is all about making a difference to kids’ lives, adding value

Enjoyment is at the heart of a good coaching session, but coaches told us there are also several other elements that play an important part:

  • Basics: learning and developing skills isn’t always fun, but in some sports, they are particularly important to be able to enjoy it properly (and safely).
  • Realisation: Considerable enjoyment comes from that moment ‘when everything just clicks’ and seeing skills learnt put into practice.
  • Progression: A strong sense of satisfaction and achievement that can be hard work, but worth it for the rewards.
  • Positive outcomes: these could be a win, but equally could be improvements in behaviour, a great display of teamwork or simply an improved mood/confidence.
  • Connection: a significant factor keeping kids engaged i.e. a sense of belonging or connection with their coach.

They don’t always want to do the drills but they need to learn how to tackle safely

Coaches told us that their ability to focus on enjoyment can be impacted by other potentially conflicting outcomes:

  • The Sport: some sports require a skills base to be able to play at a level that’s enjoyable, whilst some require training on safe practice.
  • The Level: has a dramatic impact on both children’s and parent’s expectations of the coach.
  • Having a Goal: Teams within competitive leagues naturally have different focuses, which means enjoyment isn’t always the main priority.
  • Age: Both the ability of children and the amount of structure in the session often variy by age and can impact the role of the coach and kids’ expectations.
  • Setting: Can the coach focus on the session or do they have other factors to manage such as admin/facilities/logistics, which provide distraction?
  • Money: Paid coaches told us they feel under pressure to ‘deliver’; showing tangible improvement or match parent expectations.

Research Recommendations

Of the coaches we spoke to, many have given their lives to sport or the community and are largely altruistically motivated. Many felt that coaching is harder work than it used to be, but that they recognise their role is to help young people in a way that goes beyond developing sporting skills.

To inspire and support coaches at scale and to boost the positive experience of children and young people our research identifies that the Children’s Coaching Collaborative must:

  • showcase best practices to demonstrate impact and leverage wider change
  • support coaches through training and accreditation
  • deliver wider systemic awareness to facilitate change alongside education
  • provide a clear child-first intention to persuade behavioural modification in.

Your Voice Matters

Does something in the above resonate or does it spark a question? We want to hear the views and experiences of coaches. Follow blogs from the CCC to have your say on campaign developments

(Coming soon)

Join the Movement

The catalyst for change is coming and we want you to be part of the movement