Faculty of Education - Theses

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    Elite Sports Coaching and Feedback: The use of communication and metacognitive strategies in sport
    Jackson, Brendan Craig ( 2020)
    The similarities in skills of coaches and teachers have been of particular interest to researchers for half a century. Within coaching research, the emphasis has been on coach observation studies, whereas in education research the evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions on student outcomes has been the focus. Furthermore, most coaching literature explores coaches at the sub-elite level. Crucially, to develop coaching practice, more information is needed regarding the impacts feedback, pedagogical techniques and instructional interventions employed by coaches have on athlete outcomes in the elite sporting environment. A mixed-methods approach was used in this thesis to explore the impact of coaches’ actions and behaviours on elite teams. In Part A, communication between the senior coach, three assistant coaches and 45 players from the VFLW competition were explored across a six-week period; during meetings, training sessions and competition. Feedback was predominantly descriptive in nature, with the exception of in-competition settings, where prescriptive feedback was predominant. Coaches and players asked minimal questions of one another regardless of the format of the interactions. In Part B, nine VFLW players were interviewed about their feedback preferences. Players preferred individual, specific and prescriptive feedback. Players acknowledged the benefits of video review feedback yet suggested playing an active role in the review process would improve learning. In Part C, a metacognitive strategy (Think Aloud) was introduced into the player review process for 14 AFLW players. This occurred across an entire pre-season and season of the AFLW competition to assess the impact it had on the understanding and performance of a tactical concept. The results showed an effect size of 0.68 for the introduction of a metacognitive strategy on athlete understanding and performance outcomes, compared to 0.37 for no metacognitive strategy. Major conclusions relate to coach feedback not always reflecting player preferences for how feedback is communicated, with feedback tending to be descriptive in nature. Players and coaches evaluate understanding and performance differently, however the implementation of metacognitive strategies into coaching practice led to a higher impact on athlete learning and was similar to the effects reported in prior educational research with students. Further exploration of the overlap of effective teaching pedagogies and their applicability to sports coaching practice would be useful.