What is it about?

This study followed two cohorts of elite athletes in both men's rugby union and football based in the UK over a twelve month period as they began and entered into coaching roles. Data was collected at two points over a period of twelve months. The first was as each participant began their journey on a level 3 coaching qualification in their respective sport. The second was at the end of their coaching qualification.

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Why is it important?

Many elite athletes in these two sports transition into a post-athletic high-performance coaching role. This transition is assumed in many cases by the individuals themselves, but also spectators of sport and key stakeholders, as being a fluent and unproblematic process. This study questioned this assumption by following part of this transition to ascertain how this career change can be improved concerning the shift in identities from athlete to coach and the knowledge accumulated. As a consequence, coach education provision can be adapted to offer a better experience but also to produce more proficient coaches coming from an elite athletic background.


Following aspiring elite level coaches provided a fascinating insight into how their collective and individual coaching and playing philosophies had been formed and continued to be shaped. The change from an athletic identity to a coaching one was far from seamless. Tensions between fellow coaches, heads of coaching and coach educators at each national governing body were significant and I hope the manuscript offers an insight into the difficulties encountered. I also hope that these findings and the theorisation of the participants' experiences can help inform other coaches across all contexts and additional sports on how to negotiate your own developing coach identities.

Dr Alex D Blackett
Staffordshire University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Negotiating a coach identity: a theoretical critique of elite athletes’ transitions into post-athletic high-performance coaching roles, Sport Education and Society, July 2020, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2020.1787371.
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