Enhancing volunteer youth sport coaching practices through intergenerational dialogue Naslund, John; Pennington, Garfield
A major determinant of the quality of youth’s experiences in community sports is their relationship with their coaches. It is highly desirable to investigate the practices employed by these coaches, many of whom are volunteers, as their values and coaching strategies can be encouraging for young athletes or can be demoralizing and ruin their sporting experience altogether. The unique perspectives of volunteer youth sport coaches are rarely considered, and by providing them with opportunities to openly reflect upon their practices, it may be possible to assist these coaches in improving their practices and ultimately improve the sporting experience for youth. This article describes an action research project whereby two volunteer youth sport coaches from British Columbia, Canada, engaged in a practical demonstration for using reflective dialogue in order to examine their own coaching practices. Both coaches, who are 50 years apart in age and whose coaching experience ranges from seven to over 50 years, coach different sports at different levels (elite to participation) for youth aged 11-18 years. The coach participants engaged in action research through journal writing, open discussions, and audio-recorded reflective dialogues over a period of six months. Qualitative analysis of the dialogues revealed six key themes that were significant to both coaches: motivation, confidence building, team spirit, relationship building, communication, and coaching values. The coaches comment on the effectiveness of reflective dialogue as a strategy that could help volunteer youth sport coaches better understand the importance of their roles as coaches, identify challenging aspects of their coaching, and serve as a means to further develop their coaching skills and knowledge. In addition, the coaches comment on their generational differences, and discuss the importance of having senior coaches with extensive experience mentor younger less-experienced coaches.
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