Seeking conceptual clarity in the study of elite professional coaches and managers in rugby union and association football Alex Blackett University of Lincoln ICCE, Durban, September 2013
Introduction At the start of the English 2013/14 season 89/92 professional association football (soccer) and 22/24 professional rugby union teams’ head coaches possess tenure as a professional competitive player in their respective sports. • Idiosyncratic learning pathway (Werthner & Trudel, 2009) • Meilke (2007) 60% - EPL, MLB, NBA, NFL • Apprenticeship(Cushion, Armour & Jones, 2003) • Stages of developmental sport experiences model(Erickson, Cote & Fraser-Thomas, 2007)
Research Questions • What are the differences between a ‘coach’, ‘head coach’, ‘manager’ and ‘director’ in professional soccer and rugby union at the elite performance level? (Côté, Young, North & Duffy, 2007; Turner, Nelson & Potrac, 2012) • Howis coaching knowledge acquired? • What forms of coaching knowledge are valued?
Literature’s samples - coach/agency centric Recognition of the structural constraining/enabling influences surrounding coach’s development. Cushion & Jones (2002, 2012) Cushion et al (2003, 2010) Light & Evans (2012) Taylor & Garrett (2012) Turner, Nelson & Potrac (2012)
Theoretical Sample - Employers 1. Managing Director – Oliver 2. Head of Player & Coaching Development - Darrell 5. First Team Manager – Shaun 6. Chief Executive & Performance Director – Kirk 7. Director of Rugby – Keith 8. Chief Executive - Tony 3. Director of Football Operations – Eric 9. Director of Rugby – Ron 4. Chief Executive - Samuel
Roles and responsibilities • Director of Rugby (DoR)/Manager – • Head Coach • Philosophy • On field results accountability • 3. Recruitment of staff • 4. Team selection • 5. Performance plan and review • 6. Budget expenditure • Coach • 1. Athlete development Results What is the difference between a ‘coach’, ‘head coach’, ‘manager’ and ‘director of rugby’?
Role dynamics No, no we are not going to take someone who just says we’ll hoof it up the pitch... ...we have got a playing style which we think is important for the club... ...so that’s how they are asked to coach... Eric (Director of Football Operations, Championship) ...we have a playing philosophy... football must be attractive because we are in the entertainment business... so that’s what we would ask... Shaun (Chief Exec, League One) Erm they’ve got to fit in with our culture, erm you know again it’s a small world we know who works hard and who is there just purely for the money and will work a little as possible. They’ve got to have that same yeah culture that we have. Samuel (First Team Manager, Premiership Rugby Club) Club Board Players, Academy & Rest of Club Head Coach Coaches
Again it’s that leadership... leadership, it’s the ability to get the vision... It’s that ability to enrol people you know, to have a vision... Oliver (MD Premier League Football Club)
They [qualifications] don’t really stack up a lot of the time. There are a lot of guys who have got level three or four coaching certificates that can’t coach you know. I’ve employed a bloke who’s done RFU coaching assessor, top of the food chain with all of the qualifications, even got a Welsh RFU senior coaches badge and I put him in front of our forwards […] and had to give him the bullet after two months.[...] He just couldn’t cope with it and the lads saw through him straight away. (Ron) Oh Christ yeah you have had to have played the game I would have thought. At what level? I don’t think it’s about, I would think that you would have had to play first team rugby, erm you would have had to have played first team rugby in the national divisions, I think. Ron (Director of Rugby Nation League)
Theoretical Discussion (Bourdieu, 1977) • Coaches = arbiters of taste when identifying playing talent (Christensen, 2009) • Arbiters of taste = the club hierarchy • Board members act as ‘cultural custodians’ of club values when making managerial appointments with the candidate being required to embody the club values = Hexis • Managerial and coach appointments largely remain within the field and in-house which perpetuates a fast-tracking culture of appointing elite athletes to elite coaching positions = Doxa→ Symbolic Violence (ethnic minorities & women?) (the norm) → (discriminates)
Theoretical Discussion (Bourdieu, 1977) • Why are elite athletes considered pertinent candidates for direct entry into elite managerial/coaching positions? • Cultural capital developed through playing career = credibility & informal and non-formal coaching knowledge acquired • Symbolic capital earned from playing and coaching tenure = respect • Tacit and implicit knowledge gained over a competitive playing career comprises towards a coach’s disposition = habitus Informal and non-formal forms of knowledge valued over formal.
1. Coaches’ level of symbolic and cultural capital initially high when first appointed 2 1 2. Increase in symbolic and cultural capital during practice equates to extended tenure of post 3 - Credibility/Respect + 3. Decrease in capital results in dismissal 0 6 12 18 Coaching Tenure (weeks/months?) Figure 1. Head coaches’ capital gain/loss during coaching tenure
Selected References Bourdieu, P. (1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Becker, A.J. (2009) It’s not what they do, it’s how they do it: athlete experiences of great coaching. International Journal of Sports Sciences, 4(1), 93-119. Côté, J., Young, B.W., Duffy, P. and North, J. (2007) Towards a definition of excellence in sport coaching. International Journal of Coaching Science, 1, 3-17. Christensen, M.K. (2009) “An eye for talent”: talent identification and “practical sense” of top-level soccer coaches. Sociology of Sport Journal, 26, 365-382. Potrac, P., Jones, R., Armour, K. (2009) ‘It’s all about getting respect’: the coaching behaviours of an expert English soccer coach. Sport, Education & Society, 7(2), 183-202. Mielke, D. (2009) Coaching experience, playing experience and coaching tenure. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 2(2), 105-108. Werthner, P., & Trudel, P. (2009) Investigating the idiosyncratic paths of elite Canadian coaches. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching, 4(3), 433-449.
Grounded Theory Iterative Process Codes, Memos & Concepts Constant Comparison Theoretical Sensitivity Theoretical Saturation Data Literature Fit, Work, Relevance & Modifiability Theoretical Sampling Substantive Theory Figure 2. The grounded theory process (Weed, 2009).