Dispositions and coaching theories: Understanding the impact of coach education on novice coaches’ learning

Keith Webb, Thomas M. Leeder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Whilst coach education has been the subject of much critique, it is often the first opportunity for novice coaches to be formally taught how to coach. Nevertheless, novice coaches arrive at coach education courses with an array of pre-existing dispositions and coaching theories, referring to naturalised and self-referenced approaches towards coaching practice, which can be resistant to change. Consequently, the aim of this research was to explore the construction and development of four novice coaches’ dispositions and coaching theories, and whether they were either confirmed, developed, challenged, or changed by a Level 1 sport-specific coaching course. Following an instrumental case study design, four novice coaches were each interviewed before, during, and after their engagement with a Level 1 sport-specific course. Data were analysed thematically, informed by Phil Hodkinson and colleagues’ theory of ‘learning cultures’ and the metaphor of learning as becoming, which draws upon Pierre Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field, and capital. Three themes were developed which are representative of the three interview phases: (1) Pre-course: The development of coaches’ dispositions towards practice; (2) During course: Challenging coaches’ dispositions and coaching theories; and (3) Post-course: Future learning and critical reflections. The findings demonstrated that the four novice coaches’ dispositions and coaching theories were largely underpinned by behaviourist assumptions, which were developed experientially. These dispositions and coaching theories were challenged and subsequently showed signs of transformation both during and after the Level 1 course, which promoted a constructionist games-based approach to coaching. Recognising the significance of novice coaches’ dispositions and coaching theories may help governing bodies to support learners with understanding and engaging with constructionist informed coaching approaches, whilst appreciating coach learning as a social, embodied, and on-going process of dispositional re-construction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)618-631
Number of pages14
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number5
Early online date15 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jun 2022


  • Bourdieu
  • Dispositions
  • coach education
  • coach learning
  • learning cultures

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