Launch Symposium, Loughborough University

Session 1: ‘CRiC past, futures, and possibilities’ with Dr Bill Taylor

In this session, Dr Taylor provided a general introduction to the day including a brief history of CRiC and how we got to this point.  Dr Taylor also discussed the relationship between CRiC and Sports Coaching Review.  The main component of this session called for coaching researchers to be ‘brave and disruptive’ in our thinking, writing and research – and this was aligned to the broader vision of CRiC as an organization.  Dr Taylor also introduced the themes of the 6th International Conference – to be held at Loughborough University in Spring 2023.

Session 2: ‘Critical approaches to sport coaching research’ with Professor Robyn Jones

Within this address, Professor Jones meanders through (a) considerations about the quality of current coaching research; (b) the role of gatekeepers and overseers as responsible for where we are; (c) possibilities for a bright(er) future; and (d) the need to exercise a reflexive interpretive imagination to further engender respect within, and for, the field. He closes with a word about the journal Sports Coaching Review, and its purpose as an enduring outlet for critical coaching research.

Session 3: ‘NGB’s and sport coaching research: Impact and influence.’  A panel discussion, Chaired by Dr Laura Gale, with Professor Chris Cushion, Dr Lauren Downham and guests

Some twenty years ago Ward and Barrett (2002) proposed a test of the utility and value of research to a practice community which asks the extent to which its findings are (a) used as recommended practices in the preparation of practitioners and (b) incorporated by practitioners in everyday practice. As coaching in some sports has grown and become increasingly regulated and ‘professionalised’ there are examples of research in sport coaching policy, as well as positive research examples to be found with interventions in coach education and coaching practice. However, there is no evidence for the systematic application of these, or any other findings, in the development of coaching practice or coach education in terms of either research methodology or results” (Cushion, 2022). This session explores the ‘impact’ or lack thereof, of coaching research on coaching particularly exploring the ‘research-governing body’ relationship.  It considers a number of issues including the alleged ‘research-practice’ gap, the understanding of what research is, and the undercurrent of anti-intellectualism pervasive in some areas of sport coaching.

Session 4: ‘The Whyte Review: A cultural and political analysis of bullying.’  A panel discussion, Chaired by Dr Anna Stodter, with Dr Melanie Lang, Bobby Crutchley and Dr Alexandra Consterdine

The Whyte Review (2022), co-commissioned by UK Sport and Sport England, examined allegations of abuse and mistreatment in gymnastics at all levels of the sport and the approach taken by British Gymnastics to resolving complaints. The review brought to public attention long-standing cultural problems in sport, suggesting that British Gymnastics failed in its duty of care to gymnasts, prioritising the pursuit of medals and performance targets over athlete welfare. We ask if coaching, as an integral element of high-performance sport, is appropriate, ethical and principled in the 21st Century. Taking as our focus the recently published Whyte Review, we unpack some of these issues and discuss the systems and structures that are in place, or otherwise, to safeguard both athletes and coaches. In addition, we consider what the foremost concerns or misconceptions are in this area and ask ourselves what can coaching in high-performance sport look like? Specifically, this panel explored and critically examined three areas: a) the effects of a tendency towards athlete blaming in high-performance sport coaching as it relates to discourse, athlete systems and coaching practices, b) how the notion of the ‘one bad apple’ in coaching is perpetuated with related consequences, and c) the ambiguity inherent within coaching, what counts as abuse,  the ethics and practices sanctioned by performance culture, and the role of athletes’ rights in realising safe sporting environments.

Session 5: The legacy of CRiC: Engender critical debate within Sport Coaching Research with Drs Charlie Corsby and Edward Hall

A primary feature of The Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) is to promote research to a wide range of audiences. In doing so, a principal objective is to encourage interrogative research that engenders critical debate – an aim congruent with Sports Coaching Review. However, making the jump to peer-reviewed published work can be difficult to attain, particularly for postgraduate and early-career researchers. In keeping with CRiC’s spirit to support the development and promotion of research, then, the aim of this interactive seminar is twofold. Firstly, the purpose was to introduce and discuss some of the potentials and pitfalls associated with publishing sport coaching related research. The second related purpose, then, was to introduce a proposed special issue in conjunction with Sports Coaching Review (SCR). Here, authors were invited to submit a variety of short-form articles (between 500-2000 words, excluding references) for consideration in the journal. The precise aim of the special issue was to curate some of the latest postgraduate research being conducted about sports coaching theory and practice. Articles may cover a wide range of topics, which might include descriptions of original research, literature reviews, methodological innovations, preliminary findings, theoretical discussions, and reflective or confessional pieces, among other subject matter. Although all are welcome, this interactive seminar was most likely to appeal to postgraduate students and their supervisors, as well as to early-career researchers considering the preparation of their research for peer-review in SCR. 

Session 6: Collaborative opportunities, conference planning and networking with Dr Don Vinson

Participants joined a small-group informal session where they had the opportunity to discuss their project ideas and proposals, receive critical feedback and potentially recruit collaborators! They were also be invited to help us shape the next international coaching conference in Spring 2023.  Network, chat and discuss all things coaching.