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Reflections on using visual research methods in sports coaching

Cope, Edward; Harvey, Stephen; Kirk, David


Edward Cope

Stephen Harvey

David Kirk


Learners are central to the coaching process, yet elementary-aged (i.e. 5-11 years) children’s perspectives and experiences of sport are under-represented in the current sports coaching literature. One reason that research with these populations may not be forthcoming in these sporting contexts could be due to the employment of research methods. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the viability of visual methods (i.e. photovoice and drawings) in offering a furthered understanding of elementary-aged children’s perspectives and experiences of sport and sports coaching. The drawings and photographs provided as examples in this paper were generated from a combination of two different contexts (school and club) where children participated in two different sports (swimming and football). The processes of data generation allowed for the reflection on some benefits of using these methodologies as well as revealing some challenges. Although these methods proved challenging due to their time-consuming nature, the drawings and photographs provided stimuli for conversations between the children and the researcher. Specifically, children were able to speak freely and openly about their experiences related to the coaching and playing of sport in specific contexts. However, if children’s experiences of playing sport are to be positive, researchers and practitioners must consider listening to respond to their perspectives and experiences, rather than merely listening. These methods may therefore be invaluable in enabling coaches to re-examine their taken for granted assumptions regarding children’s perspectives and experiences.


Cope, E., Harvey, S., & Kirk, D. (2015). Reflections on using visual research methods in sports coaching. Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 7(1), 88-108.

Acceptance Date Dec 4, 2013
Online Publication Date Jan 31, 2014
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health
Print ISSN 2159-676X
Electronic ISSN 1939-845X
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 7
Issue 1
Pages 88-108
Keywords Coaching; Sport; Children; Qualitative methods
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2015 University of Hull
Additional Information This is an Author Accepted Manuscript of an article which has been published in: Qualitative research in sport, exercise and health, 2015, v.7, issue 1.


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