The Field Of Soccer Sports Coaching

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In the field of Sports Coaching, disconnect between the core values professed on a coach profile and the reality expressed in the field is one of the major influences of the performance of soccer teams in the UK. The discrepancy in the confessed values of soccer coaches and the perceived values are known to influence the outcomes of soccer matches and therefore determine the performance of soccer team. A systematic research using a case study approach on the influence of perceived discrepancy on a coach’s words and their actual actions on the field will provide improve physical literary and influence policy with the aim of improving team and coach motivation. For instance, a soccer coach that describe themselves to endear the core values of team cohesion but practices alienation among team members can demotivate players and affect the performance of a soccer team. Further, a soccer coach who describes themselves as empowering to players but discourages autonomy can undermine the performance of a rather skillful team. Incorporating coaching practices that support the physiological and psychological needs of soccer players generates synergy between the coach and the players. Soccer coaches that possess the skill and knowledge that bridge the disconnect between professed values and practices in the field have the potential to have a fruitful and successful coaching career. Further, an understanding of the impact of the disconnect between professed values and real practices can provide knowledge that can form the basis of coaching educational programs in addition to providing coach interns with best practice cases in action.

Despite many English professional coaches possessing the experience and educational qualification for professional soccer coaches in the UK, there is limited empirical research work on there is lack of a theorized model to reconcile the coaches perceived values and their performance in practical sport settings. Further, existing empirical work has not underpinned the gap between perception and practice in the conceptual development of soccer coaching. The aim of this study was to investigate the discrepancy between perceived core values, knowledge and skills and actions in practice environment of a professional English soccer coach. The current study fills this research gap by examining the behavior of an English soccer coach. To conceal the real name of the coach and the soccer club in which they currently coach, the pseudonym James and Sharks Soccer Academy will be used to achieved confidentiality of the two identities.

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The choice of James for the case study was informed by his 10-year experience as a coach with 2 years as the head coach. Further, the selected coach profile describes several core values that are intended to foster cohesion, competence and autonomy among soccer players he coaches. A case study will involve an interview to gather qualitative data about perceived knowledge, core values and skills of the coach followed by six sessions observations in a coaching environment. According to the self-determination theory, a sports coach can create a motivating climate for players by focusing on three key areas of personal development. The need for soccer player to have autonomy, the need for players to improve their skills and the need to feel critical to the team are key drivers of high performance for any soccer team. Players that are intrinsically motivated when the coach is also highly motivated. This coincides with the adage that success breeds success. For a soccer coach to enhance the autonomy, competence and cohesion of individual players in a team, the coach has to acquire, profess and practice the best coaching skills on a regular basis. Understanding how the professed skills of soccer coaches match with the actions of coaches in the coaching settings is significant in influencing policy regarding internship programs intended to impact young coaches with experienced and competent coaches. Further, the research will inform pedagogy by providing guidelines for soccer coaches to improve their coaching experience by incorporating values that foster autonomy, competence and cohesion among individual team players.



The study involved a qualified and experience soccer male coach. In keeping with other similar studies such as Vallerand and Lalande (2011), on sports coaching, a mini-biography or profile of the participant coach was captured. Bouffard (2017), emphasized that studies on the coaching behavior should be based on a non-random selection of coaches. In this study, purposive sampling method was used to identify the participant coach from a group of 12 coaches with closely related professional profiles. Further, the description of the profiles of the coach should be provided to make it possible for the study to be replicated in a different sporting context. Further, the researcher recommended the used of mixed data collection approaches to validate each other and improve understanding of the observed behavior regarding the objective of the study (Roberts & Fairclough, 2012). The professional profile of James is described in the following paragraph. James: James has over 10 years’ experience as a professional soccer coach in the UK. He is described himself as a highly skilled and competent coach with the highest national coaching qualification in the UK. He believes in fostering competences, autonomy and cohesion as a strategy to achieve results in the team he coaches. He is also a qualified physical education trainer and has worked for several years as a Football Association regional coach. James has also coached for 3 years at the international level. He worked as youth coach in Argentina before becoming a head coach in one of the leading soccer clubs in the United Kingdom. He strives to improve the tactical and technical capabilities of soccer players by establishing and maintaining a supportive environment. James describes his primary role to educate team members. He insists that to develop the competence of any player, it is necessary to respect players, the values, cultural diversity and support them to perform better. Prior to participation in the study, the selected soccer coach was informed about the objective of the study to ensure that consent was obtained. As part of the ethical approval, the participant was also informed that participation was voluntary and that pseudonyms would be used to conceal their identity and ensure confidentiality. The data collected would only be used for the purpose of the study and improving pedagogy, policy and practice in sports coaching.


The instruments used to collect data from the participant was interview and observation during six consecutive training sessions. The interview session with the participant captured perceived core values, skills and competences which were recorded in a research journal. A semi-structured interview guide was used to obtain information about the coach’s core values and experience. Since the responses were anticipated to be subjective in nature, a semi-structure interview guide provided the researcher with the opportunity to gather more information and clarifications from the participants in addition to what was captured in the guide. The interview questions were based on a sample by Hanrahan (2015), and captured information about the impact the coach has had on the team. Related interview questions were grouped together to ensure sequential pattern of the interview session. The training session observation involved recording observation based on the Arizona State University Observation Instrument (ASUOI). The instrument was recommended by McKay, Buchanan and Chang (2018), and has been widely used in recording information on the observable behavior of sport coaches while in the context of training sessions. To reduce the level of measurement error, the internal reliability of the observer and the instrument was determined by establishing the variability of the records measured by the researcher at various times. The researcher analyzed different time stamped recorded video training sessions and compared the result in order to determine the observation error. The agreement percentage for each observation was established to be 92 percent which is greater than the generally accepted level of 85 percent. The behavior themes captured in the instrument are presented in Appendix I. The researcher kept a journal for each of the six sessions. The instrument was chosen because it provides a tool to systematically record observations of coaching behavior and also provides opportunity for extension with other themes. To ensure the validity of the tool, the test-retest method was used where a pilot was conducted with another coach. The results of the pilot were used to improve the structure of the interview questions. The outcomes of the pilot test did not form part of the final study results.


Prior to the interview, an information sheet was presented to the participant explaining the purpose of the interview. The participant’s consent was obtained by signing an agreement form. The interview session was conducted in the participant’s home which was chosen because it was a relaxing and comfortable environment (Roberts & Fairclough, 2012). The interview lasted for 35 minutes and the recorded by the researcher verbatim. Since the soccer coach was highly trained and possessed vast experience both at the national and international levels, the potential risk of misinterpretation of soccer and sports coaching jargon was almost null. The observation data in the training session was collected by visiting 6 consecutive sessions where the coach was training the team. The researcher obtained the training schedule and sought permission from the facility managers to access the facility during the training sessions. The observations were recorded in a journal for future processing.

Analysis of the Case Study

Qualitative data reflecting on the participating coach’s impact on soccer player’s motivation, competence, autonomy and core values was collected through the interview and observations. The data was organized inductively into coaching behavior and the impact on competition motivation and training motivation examined. The analysis of the findings from the case study are organized in the theme of physical literacy, pedagogy and policy and applied sports science.

Physical Literacy

Educating soccer players on the important of physical education was identified as an important part of coaching philosophy. During the interview sessions, the coach emphasized the need for players to understand the underlying principles in physical exercise. The study shows that providing rationale for physical training of soccer players impacts on their motivation to achieve competence and become more competitive (Cooke, 2003). Soccer player’s motivation was observed to be affected by the trust that players had in the physical training prescription of their coach. However, the trust and confidence in a physical training program took place over a long time and required the coach to be actively involved in the program. Coaches that prescribed a physical training program that the couch did not take part in was less likely to be trusted by players. Consistency in the physical training of players was also observed to be important in sustaining the player’s knowledge and skills in various physical activities to achieve different outcomes. According to Koka and Hein (2003), positive modelling by the soccer coach was observed to be a critical factor in developing and maintaining long term coach-player relationships.

Pedagogy and Policy

The cognitive evaluation theory (CET) a coach behavior can motivate players by meeting their intrinsic psychological needs. The coach profile described him as a person that supported and empowered players to achieve their very best in professional soccer career. Since the statement concurred with the coaching behavior of the participant, it was observed that players had confidence in him evidenced by the support they sought from the coach whenever they faced a challenge (Paul & Andy, 2014) The findings can inform pedagogy by enabling influencing upcoming coaches to inspire confidence and allow players to believe in them. The study findings also revealed that autonomy supportive coaching behaviors positively impact on the motivation of soccer players. This was observed through the coaching style of the coach which emphasized on the core values and work ethics of both the coach and the players. The findings can inform policy by establishing coach training programs that inspire players to have a good attitude by becoming dependable to players. Further, policy can be used to create a criterion for selection of coaches to include recognition of initiative-taking activities that inspire coaches to be autonomous.

The study findings showed that the coach can improve team motivation by using reassurance. Studies that have previously investigated on the role of reassurance as a coaching behavior have focused on the role of reassurance in improving self-efficacy (Raven, 2008). However, during the interview, the participant revealed that reassuring players was one of the tools that the coach used to enhance the motivation of players. The emphasis of role theory is evident in sports coaching. The study findings revealed that the coach extensively applied role theory to demonstrate the roles of different players at different situations such as attacks and defense during a game. Coaching training programs can argument role theory by emphasizing its practice to influence the behavior of different players in a soccer team.

Applied Sports Science

The empirical evidence of the study is not only beneficial to formal coaching educational but also to practicing soccer coaches. The study revealed the coach used scolding behavior which according to Bean, Rocchi and Forneris (2019). is founded on the believe that a coach can use coercive power to punish players. According to Koka and Hein (2003), scolding behavior makes a coach alienated from players and therefore is largely considered dysfunctional. Further, it is inconsistent with the core values and personal coaching philosophy of the coach which were described supportive. The coach described his objective as that of creating a positive working environment that would enable players to build their competence and skills. However, scolding is inconsistent with this aim and instead creates an atmosphere of resentment between the players and the coach (Gilbert & Trudel, 2004). The findings can influence sports science practice by providing a foundation for further research on the motivational theories that can specifically address the challenges of coaches in a fast-paced performance intensive field such as soccer. Further, the study findings showed that coach behavior influence players behavior. For instance, a coach that respects players are in turn respected by the players (Gale, 2017). This finding can be applied in sports science by encouraging coaches to avoid overusing negative words when giving instructions to players. The use of instruction, which was widely cited in studies such as Vansteenkiste, Lens and Deci (2006), was observed during the coaching sessions as one of the coaching behavior of the participant. Instruction is consistent with observational research in football and should therefore be encourage in applied sports science.


Evaluating the biography of soccer coaches with their coaching practices in the fields is critical to improving coaches learning as an integrated whole. The study showed that coaches that make use of coaching behaviors they believe in are likely to consistently describe them in their profiles and also practice these behaviors during training sessions. Coaching behaviors such as regular physical training for players, use of scolding and praise for the purpose of motivate were noted as critical to the coaching outcome of the participant. Appropriate use of motivational behavior and consistence in practicing coaching principles that coaches subscribe to can significantly enable coaches to consistently produce skillful and compete players. The findings have the potential to influence teaching programs for sports coaches such as incorporating motivational theories and initiative-taking activities Further, the findings can significantly alter policy on what is acceptable and not acceptable behavior in the relationship between coaches and players.


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