Research Summaries for Coaches
The sports coach UK Research Summary Series is designed to give coaches access to research that is often hidden away in academic journals. Below you will find links to summaries of 33 journal articles published between 2013 and 2016 with ideas on how the theory can be applied. Just click on a title to read more.
New research from Canada suggests coaches, parents and children all influence the Relative Age Effect (a term to describe how top level sport is often dominated by players born at certain times of the year). This summary looks at three models used frequently in business and management that help explain the Relative Age Effect. Read it here.
New research from academics in the UK suggests that the old adage of ‘first impressions count’ is very much alive and kicking in sport. This article provides a summary of how players will change their behaviour depending upon how they view the coach. Read it here.
How can attention help players improve their sporting performance? This summary presents four attention-related strategies that have been prominent in attention-related research for many years. Each strategy is explained in a sporting context, including an example that aims to show coaches how these methods can be applied within their coaching. Read it here.
Every team needs a leader. This is not just another sporting cliché, but something that has been demonstrated by research. Given that only 30% of leadership is hereditarily based – in other words, leaders are made and not born – how much time do you spend developing the leadership skills of your captain? This summary presents ideas for developing leadership skills in captains based on interviews with identified experts in this field. Read it here.
Sport psychologists are often seen as the people who appear when a team or player is having a problem. However, psychological strategies, such as goal setting, have been shown to have a powerful effect on behaviour at all times. This summary looks at new research from a sport psychologist working with a young footballer in Denmark. Beyond showing the work of psychologists in sport, it also provides coaches with guidance in the art of goal setting. Read it here.
What can we learn from how elite level coaches communicate with their players during competitive matches? The answer: well, quite a lot, as a team of academics from France, the UK and Australia found out in 2013. This Research Summary describes the research and looks at what coaches can take from the results. Read it here.
Keeping your emotions under control is a key element of sporting success. This summary looks at how coaches control their emotions and how these can be influenced by internal and external pressures. Read it here.
Intuition is not a magical ability but an important decision-making tool that can be learnt by anyone. This summary explains the route map to intuitive thinking and expertise in coaching. Read it here.
Until now, humour has received very little attention in sports coaching research. A new paper from researchers in Norway aims to change all that by highlighting just how useful humour can be when understood and used correctly. But be warned – using humour is a balancing act. Read it here.
Are coaches like actors? This research looks at one high performing coach who studied as an actor to give ideas for all coaches about communication and interacting with athletes. Read it here
Although critical reflection is important for any coach wanting to improve, it can often be more difficult than expected to put into practice. This summary provides ideas that might help any coach. Read it here
What does a coach need to think about before they develop an off-season training programme for their players? This summary looks at what happened when a programme was introduced to an American football team in a US College. Read it here
New research shows strategies for youth sport coaches to provide fun sporting experiences, and shape positive relationships between the young people they coach. Read it here
This summary looks at new research with coaches and athletes to show how communication can vary by coach, gender of athlete and type of sport . It suggests how understanding your own communication style can imporve your coaching. Read it here
New research on the connection between the quality of talent development environments and the psychological well-being of athletes. Read it here
Coaching needs to adopt a theory of paradox to truly understand what a coach does and therefore to improve coaching practice. This summary provides an overview of the concept of paradox and how a coach can embrace the paradox. Read it here
We generally accept that athletes can be ultra-critical of themselves in order to be the best that they can be. But what if we challenged that notion by encouraging them to be more compassionate towards themselves, and less obsessed with perfecting their craft? This summary provides ideas for using self compassion theory in coachng. Read it here.
One aspect of motivational climate research yet to receive the same level of attention is the role of personality. For example, what impact would a narcissistic personality have on different motivational climates, and what could a coach learn to help them manage such situations? These questions are examined in this research summary. Read it Here
How can a coach manage the smooth transition of new players into a team? New research from Canada uses theories from business to describe a mix of formal and informal processes that any coach could adopt. Read it Here
The responsibility of a coach is not just to prepare athletes for competition but also to help them through the action. Research with Olympic athletes has shown coach behaviour during competition can have both positive and negative effects on performance. New research with successful coaches has identified what coaches can do during competition. The results suggest a theory of orchestration as a useful approach to understand coaching during competition. Read it Here
Plenty of research exists around reflection and how coaches use the technique to develop their coaching practice. However, there is far less evidence around the use of reflection by parasport coaches. Do the different challenges they face with their athletes lead to different approaches to reflection? Or is their reflective practice comparable to coaches working with non-disabled athletes? Read it Here
When a player experiences an injury it can be a very stressful time. The question is, how do coaches help their players manage the stress in these situations? This summary, based on new research from academics in America, provides a range of strategies that coaches can use to actively help players alleviate the stress caused by sporting injuries. Read it Here
How do individuals in high-profile or high-pressure environments make decisions at key moments? Is it purely intuition, or is there a more advanced cognitive process taking place that others in similar roles could learn from? New research from a team of academics in America and the UK argues that in high-performance sports coaching, the latter view is true. Decision making is a cognitive process that coaches can develop their understanding of in order to enhance their expertise. This summary explains how the researchers examined high-performance sports coaches’ decision making using the Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) framework. Read it Here
The questions a coach asks can have a major influence on how much their players or athletes learn. This summary of a recent journal article shows how theories of learning can be applied by coaches in a Games-based Approach to stretch learning beyond what players can achieve on their own. Asking the correct question is critical to success, and the researchers provide practical guidance to help coaches plan, implement and review their questioning skills. Read it Here
New research from Canada has shown that coaches will often individualise their behaviour and tone for different people in a coaching session. However, the outcomes of such a strategy are not always as intended. Sometimes the best intentions can have unintended consequences. Read it Here
Eating disorders are more prevalent in sport than other areas of society, and coaches are well placed to identify issues early and encourage people to seek help. However, new research has identified that coaches will take many different approaches, with varying degrees of success. Read it Here
It is generally accepted that games played away from home are more difficult to win than those played in front of your own crowd. This phenomenon, known as ‘home advantage’, has received plenty of attention from supporters and media alike. But how does home advantage influence a coach’s approach? New research from a team of academics in Germany used an online football management game to find out. Read it Here
Coaches can play an important role in the development of life skills among young people who are often excluded from society. New research from the Netherlands has used theories from sociology to present a method for coaches to help create the right environment so young people can have fun but also learn to manage the stresses of everyday life. Read it Here
Microscopes enable us to magnify materials and analyse the composition of their structures on tiny scales – their microstructures, in other words. Now, imagine for a minute we have a microscope that can be used to magnify a social process, such as coaching. As well as showing us how coaches behave, the ability to magnify could add further layers of detail such as how their specific behaviours change in different contexts. Read it Here
A new research study conducted by a highly experienced executive coach, focusing on seven UK-based leaders who see reflection as a key part of who they are, provides coaches in sport and physical activity with an opportunity to learn more about the benefits of reflection and ideas on how to successfully engage in it. Read it Here
The use of questioning has many advantages as a coaching tool, and research shows it is being used more by coaches. However, new research from academics in England suggests the style of questioning often only upholds existing coaching norms that the coach is the person who holds all the answers. This summary looks at some of the common pitfalls in questioning that were identified in the research. Read it Here
Moving from a traditional, instructional coaching approach to games-based coaching is hard work. New research from Australia has followed the season-long journey of one coach as he attempts to change his coaching style. It provides a useful insight into what it actually takes to change a coaching style. Read it Here
Most coaches will have strategies for working with young players’ fathers, do they consider the implications of fathers who are using sport as a site for undertaking their parenting role? New research from a team of academics in America can help coaches understand the idea of fathering through sport, as well as the implications it could have for their own coaching experiences. Read it Here
Researchers in America conducted research around mentoring of coaches. They found that the most effective mentoring roles involved a mix of social support and future career support, with the role changing depending on the experience of the mentee. Read it Here
Sibling success in sport has become arguably more prevalent in recent years following the achievements of the Williams sisters and the Murray and Brownlee brothers, to name just a few. However, while their sporting success is there for all to see, less is known about the influence the siblings had on each other when growing up and taking part in sport and physical activity. New research from academics in America aims to broaden our knowledge by providing children’s coaches with a better understanding of sibling influence, as well as some practical tips to consider when coaching siblings. Read it Here
At some point in their careers, most coaches will experience one of their players suffering a serious injury. However, what advice exists to help coaches deal with the experience of players being injured? Specifically, if coaches feel guilt, what psychological impact can that have on them, and how does their management of this guilt affect their approach to coaching? New research from academics in the UK aims to answer some of these questions and aid the reflective process for coaches who find themselves in similar situations in future. Read it Here