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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Coach-to-coach mentoring in a youth soccer academy : applying theoretical knowledge within relevant contexts of practical sport coaching Robertson, Scott

Abstract

Most Canadian youth soccer players develop under the tutelage of volunteer coaches, whose training and expertise can be limited (e.g., soccer knowledge, age-appropriate teaching strategies). Moreover, a gap exists between coaching theory learned during coach education courses and practice on the field with sport teams. Theory can be better learned and contextualised in environments that hold immediate relevance for developing coaches. Mentoring, in which reflection unites thought and action, enhances coach education by uniting theory and practice. Coaches forget less, implement more, and more closely discern relevant environmental cues. This thesis is comprised of six chapters. Chapter I overviews Canadian coach education, exploring mentoring from a theoretical perspective. Inquiry questions are posed: How can mentoring affect grassroots soccer coach training and development? What role can mentors play in coach education programs? What effect can mentoring have on novice coaches? Chapter II reviews theories of teaching and learning, describing a need for changes in current sport-coach education, building a case that mentoring can affect such changes. Chapter III describes the inquiry method, including a rationale and possible limitations / areas of future concern. Three coaches (novice, intermediate, advanced) collaborated during a twelve-week coach-to-coach mentoring program in a youth soccer academy to enhance each other's knowledge, skills, and attitudes as soccer coaches. Mentoring approaches were tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each coach. The 'novice' coach was defined as having very limited sport-specific knowledge and / or experiences with coaching groups of young athletes. The 'intermediate' coach was defined as having completed introductory level coaching courses and having some successful coaching experiences with young athletes. The 'advanced' coach was defined as having completed significant coaching qualifications, possessing a distinctive track-record of successful coaching with youth teams (beyond team results), and demonstrating leadership in coach education. Chapter IV discusses inquiry outcomes, which confirm a mentoring framework proposed in the review; five distinct mentoring roles are confirmed (model, enculturator, supporter, sponsor, and educator). A sixth role is proposed: professional. Chapter V conceptualises the notion of professionalism in some detail. Chapter VI is a conclusion, revisiting the inquiry questions, summarising the study, and suggesting areas to consider as others pursue mentoring in the future.

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