In pursuit of becoming a senior coach: The learning culture for Australian Football League coaches

Mallett, Clifford J., Rossi, Tony, Rynne, Steven B. and Tinning, Richard (2016) In pursuit of becoming a senior coach: The learning culture for Australian Football League coaches. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 21 1: 24-39. doi:10.1080/17408989.2015.1072508

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Author Mallett, Clifford J.
Rossi, Tony
Rynne, Steven B.
Tinning, Richard
Title In pursuit of becoming a senior coach: The learning culture for Australian Football League coaches
Journal name Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1740-8989
Publication date 2016-01-01
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/17408989.2015.1072508
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 21
Issue 1
Start page 24
End page 39
Total pages 16
Place of publication Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom
Publisher Routledge
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background and Purpose: Given the turbulent and highly contested environment in which professional coaches work, a prime concern to coach developers is how coaches learn their craft. Understanding the learning and development of senior coaches (SCs) and assistant coaches (ACs) in the Australian Football League (AFL – the peak organisation for Australian Rules Football) is important to better develop the next generation of performance coaches. Hence the focus of this research was to examine the learning of SC and AC in the AFL. Fundamental to this research was an understanding that the AFL and each club within the league be regarded as learning organisations and workplaces with their own learning cultures where learning takes place. The purpose of this paper was to examine the learning culture for AFL coaches.

Method: Five SCs, 6 ACs, and 5 administrators (4 of whom were former coaches) at 11 of the 16 AFL clubs were recruited for the research project. First, demographic data were collected for each participant (e.g. age, playing and coaching experience, development and coach development activities). Second, all participants were involved in one semi-structured interview of between 45 and 90 minutes duration. An interpretative (hierarchical content) analysis of the interview data was conducted to identify key emergent themes.

Results: Learning was central to AFL coaches becoming a SC. Nevertheless, coaches reported a sense of isolation and a lack of support in developing their craft within their particular learning culture. These coaches developed a unique dynamic social network (DSN) that involved episodic contact with a number of respected confidantes often from diverse fields (used here in the Bourdieuian sense) in developing their coaching craft. Although there were some opportunities in their workplace, much of their learning was unmediated by others, underscoring the importance of their agentic engagement in limited workplace affordances.

Conclusion: The variety of people accessed for the purposes of learning (often beyond the immediate workplace) and the long time taken to establish networks of supporters meant that a new way of describing the social networks of AFL coaches was needed; DSN. However, despite the acknowledged utility of learning from others, all coaches reported some sense of isolation in their learning. The sense of isolation brought about by professional volatility in high-performance Australian Football offers an alternative view on Hodkinson, Biesta and James' attempt in overcoming dualisms in learning.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 2 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 17 Sep 2015, 03:05:22 EST by Dr Cliff Mallett on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences