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Investigating the alignment between coaches’ ideological beliefs and academy philosophy in professional youth football

Hall, Joshua; Cope, Ed; Townsend, Robert C.; Nicholls, Adam R.


Joshua Hall

Ed Cope

Robert C. Townsend

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Professor Adam Nicholls
Professor of Psychology/ Leader of the Sport Psychology and Coaching Group


© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. The impacts of professional sporting culture and institutional discourse on coaching practices and ideologies have largely been unconsidered and undiscussed. Understanding coaching practice from a social perspective can provide insights into the prevailing culture that coaches are immersed within, pointing to patterns of discourse, norms and values that govern coaches’ actions. The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for (mis)alignment between coaches’ ideological beliefs and the instituted philosophy of the professional football academy at which they worked. Thirteen male football coaches (M = 36.23 years) were observed coaching on three separate occasions, equating to 2584 min of footage (M = 66.26 min). Each recorded session was analysed using a computerised version of the Coach Analysis Intervention System (CAIS). All participants were interviewed twice (before first observation and after final observation). Coaches were questioned about the academy philosophy and their personal behavioural profiles. Data were subjected to thematic analysis and placed within a theoretical framework utilising concepts of Pierre Bourdieu. Findings highlighted that coaches’ interpretations of the academy philosophy were impacted by their prior socialisation and position within the status hierarchy. The data also demonstrated ‘philosophy’ being used as a ‘buzzword’ throughout the academy, derived from loose interpretations, but offered few specific suggestions regarding how coaches ‘should’ behave. Coach interactions were used as forms of social control rather than addressing pedagogical concerns, with coaches’ personal dispositions proving extremely strong and ultimately prevailing. It is worth questioning, therefore, the extent to which the academy ‘philosophy’ can be displaced, and the mechanisms required to ensure collective acceptance to an instituted coaching approach.


Hall, J., Cope, E., Townsend, R. C., & Nicholls, A. R. (in press). Investigating the alignment between coaches’ ideological beliefs and academy philosophy in professional youth football. Sport, Education and Society,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 22, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 9, 2020
Deposit Date Nov 23, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Sport, Education and Society
Print ISSN 1357-3322
Electronic ISSN 1470-1243
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Sports coaching; Coaching philosophy; Coach behaviour; Ideology; Bourdieu
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Article (319 Kb)

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©2020 The authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

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