Behaviorism, Skinner, and operant conditioning: Considerations for sport coaching practice

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The aim of this article is to provide a concise overview of the theoretical assumptions of behaviorism, which generally informs “traditional” approaches to sport coaching. B.F. Skinner's (1904–1990) theory of operant conditioning is discussed, alongside considerations for sport coaching practice. For coaches who draw upon the principles of Skinner's theory of operant conditioning, four reflective questions are posed. This article does not attempt to present behaviorism or Skinner's work as superior or inferior to any other theory of learning. Rather, this article is founded on the belief that sport coaches would benefit from a greater understanding of their assumptions about learning, enabling them to make more informed choices and modifications to their practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Early online date11 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

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