Recent debates in sports coaching literature has centred on the dynamic tension between agency and social structures in shaping practice (e.g., Jones, Edwards, & Viotto Filho, 2016). Viewed from this perspective, all coaching can be understood as the intertwined agential behaviour of humans within social organisations; of issues concerned with independence and compliance (Jones & Ronglan, 2017). To provide a semblance of order to this complex pedagogical process, scaffolding was recently offered as a concept that enables both structure and agency to be realised (Jones & Thomas, 2015). Scaffolding, therefore, is viewed as a pedagogically focused, fluid framework shaped by context whereby coaches’ actions are both directive whilst contingent on emergent performance (Jones & Thomas, 2015). Notwithstanding the work of Jones and Thomas (2015), despite its increasing use within the coaching literature (e.g., Abraham & Collins, 2011; Thomas & Wilson, 2014), the concept has remained at the abstract level of rhetoric.
The aim of this project is to record and analyse the practice of sport coaches from the pedagogical perspective of ‘scaffolding’. This is both in terms of the episodic coaching act and the more general coaching process. Specifically, the purpose is to investigate the pedagogical complexity of coaching, in relation to how coaches’ ‘scaffold’ and manage players’ learning and context towards desired ends. This aim will be addressed through a series of mutually informing detailed research questions:
- What, when and how do coaches scaffold the learning of players?
- What are the observed and perceived situational constraints on coaches’ practice in this respect?
- How do coaches scaffold player compliance? What power structures are at work?
- Why do coaches think what they do in terms of generating player learning works? How do they evaluate it?
- What can coaches tell us about the dilemmas they face and the decisions they make in terms of scaffolding practice? How important are socio-cultural factors in this process?
- Which factors, within their respective contexts, do coaches deem most important to control (and scaffold) and why?