Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

What Does 'Playing Well' Mean to Elite Sports Coaches?, Implicit Thinking of Elite Spanish Soccer Coaches

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

What Does 'Playing Well' Mean to Elite Sports Coaches?, Implicit Thinking of Elite Spanish Soccer Coaches

Article excerpt

1 INTRODUCTION

Different people interpret social events in different ways and an understanding of them depends on each individual's knowledge and experience (Nisbett & Ross, 1980). This gives rise to the notion of implicit theories, which work in the form of representations, the essence of which contributes to a construct made up of experiences that have different natural and social- cultural foundations (Clandinin & Connelly, 1987; Elbaz, 1991). In this sense, individuals can construct knowledge that is both personally and directly related to the context in which it is produced. This reality has been identified as practical knowledge, professional knowledge (Higgs & Titchen, 2001), beliefs (Nisbett & Ross, 1980), and implicit theories. For coaches, these theories are a synthesis of experiences and different cognitions that can guide coaches' decision-making processes and actions. This is why knowledge about coaches' implicit theories of training is of great importance in improving coach education programs (Marrero Acosta, 1992).

An example of how implicit theories would influence the training of two different coaches may look like this. The behavior of one coach, reassured by his natural gift for football as he was an elite player in the past, would hold the implicit assumption that his own abilities place him in a position to develop his own coach duties, as he knows the secrets of football. Another coach, passionate about his job but not a former player, believes in seeking new knowledge with anything that may improve any aspect of his work. The training of the player coach would be hindered by his awareness of his own limitations, as the implicit theories built from the view of the coach are so different from those of a player. The player coach must be conscious of the fact that his professional knowledge will surely suffer from if it is only based on his personal experiences. This implicit theory will lead to repetitive behavior for this kind of coach, limiting any professional development based on reflection. The nonplayer coach holds an implicit theory that his coach development is dependent on constant reflection and acceptance of new knowledge.

Marrero Acosta (1988) defines implicit theories as "a whole of elements and links the activation of which has a certain recurrence as far as they introduce subjects' knowledge (coach knowledge) in a domain of reality (training)." (p. 137). Implicit theories provide a theoretical network for the study of coaches' behavior from a social and cultural perspective of knowledge, as they respond to the essentially practical nature of their singular knowledge. As a matter of fact, most of the coaches' knowledge is made up of experiences which occurred during their practice in different teams. These experiences are unique as they happen in similar but not equal contexts. So, future problems in the training process will be solved by coaches using those resources which were previously useful. This is the way implicit theories are built. However, an implicit theory is not always good in every case, and this is why knowing and putting them in objective terms can help coaches to become more conscious of their own practice and to modify those inadequate or unconscious behaviors.

Coaches' thinking is strongly influenced by players, matches and the atmosphere in training. Coaches function as subjects who are part of a social context, with a training process intrinsically linked to the limitations and opportunities offered by interaction between individuals (Jones, 2000; Potrac, Brewer, Jones, Armour, & Hoff, 2000; Potrac & Jones, 1999; Potrac, Jones, & Armour, 2002). There is a close relationship between the features of the problems, the motivational attitudes of coaches and their decision-making styles (Chelladurai & Quek, 1995). Thus, the thought structure of a coach is made up of experiences, values, beliefs and concepts that are organized in explicit or implicit theories and ways of solving problems that lead to an individual teaching style, in contrast to the image of a coach repeating what others did before. …

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