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Gender Representations in Coaching

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sports
Wordcount: 7062 words Published: 18th May 2020

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1.1    Introduction

There has been a rise in female coaches in recent years (UK Coaching, 2015, 2017), yet females are still underrepresented within coaching in the UK, thus demonstrating there is still a substantial amount of movement which needs to be made to improve inequality. The prevailing opinion is that coaching is a globally dominated white-male industry and will proceed to be so long as organisations do not make changes to their frameworks and principles (Acosta & Carpenter, 2014; Kane & LaVoi, 2018; Norman & Rankin-Wright, 2018).

Norman and Rankin-Wright (2018) suggest that the poor representation of females as coaches is now sufficiently understood, but there requires to be wider investigation into what it implies to be a ‘coach’. Moreover, greater knowledge of what it means and the consequences of one, being in the underrepresented.

1.1.1           NEW HEADER

Sport England (2017a) identified that women coaches make up 31% of the sporting population, but only 17% are qualified. BAME refers to Black, Asian, and minority ethnic members of non-white communities. Research displays that 20% of coaches (male and female) are from BAME backgrounds (UK Coaching, 2017).

In line with strategic commitments to expand the coaching ‘family’, a broader definition of coaching has been developed to support a wider range of participants. Sport England (2017a) has defined coaching as “Improving a person’s experience of sport and physical activity by providing specialised support and guidance aligned to their individual needs and aspirations.” The definition supports the movement towards a greater action and inclusiveness for all to be involved in sport.  

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1.1.2           Current Research

There has been an excess of research into the coach-athlete relationship (Curran, Hill & Niemiec, 2013; Jowett, 2008; Pope & Wilson, 2015; Ruiz et al., 2019), along with identifying barriers to female coaches (LaVoi & Dutove, 2012; Norman & Rankin-Wright, 2018) and career influences into individuals pursuing coaching in performance sport (Imeson, 2017; Kilty, 2016; Wasend, 2018). Coach motivation has been fundamentally disregarded within literature and limited studies have directed research into coach motivations within community sport (McLean, Mallett & Newcombe, 2012; Takamatsu & Yamaguchi, 2018).  It is important that more is done to improve the understanding of coaching commitments and intentions within the community sport setting. Coaches play an important role in the sporting domain (Amorose, 2007) and present literature suggests that researching coaches is critical to understanding the development of coaches and their impact on the experience of athletes (Stebbings et al., 2011). Coaches have a positive influence on participants, promoting their emotional health and well-being (UK Coaching, 2017). Moreover, coaches’ impact an individual’s activity maintenance, also, reducing the risk of relapse (Sport England, 2017a). The transtheoretical model of behaviour (Prochaska & Velicer, 1997) shows evidence of changing behaviours and health benefits, which are considered important in the present day.

The literature has been dominated by quantitative methods trying to comprehend why females are so poorly represented in sport leadership positions (Norman & Rankin-Wright, 2018). Female underrepresentation in coaching positions, in contrast to male coaching, is said to be due to female coaches having less self-efficacy, less intention, preference and motivation to coach and greater intention to leave the field compared to male coaches (Chelladurai, Kuga & O’bryant, 1999; Cunningham, Saga & Ashley, 2003; Cunningham & Sagas, 2003; Sagas & Ashley, 2001; Sagas, Cunningham & Pastore, 2006). In addition to this, qualitative research has cited structural factors such as; reduced opportunities, unequal gender relations, unequal concepts of coaching competence, reduced self-confidence, poor working conditions and sexism linked to homophobia and racism (Allen & Shaw, 2013; Fielding-Lloyd & Mean, 2011; Kilty, 2006; Lavoi & Dutove, 2012; Norman, 2010, 2012; Norman & Rankin-Wright, 2018; Rankin-Wright, 2015; Shaw & Slack, 2002).

A key limitation in the literature regarding the development of women’s sport is that coaching research frequently concentrates on performance coaches, which reflects sports in a distinctive structural framework in a limited variety. Consequently, there has been little research into community-level sport and the motives of coaches. Therefore, this study will contribute to the development and understanding of the experiences which community coaches’ practice.

Factors stating why individuals chose to coach can help define ways to provide incentives that can enhance coaching for women and assist programmes and organisations to remove or regulate obstacles that discourage coaching for women. It can also assist males and other leaders in the sport society better comprehend the lack of women in sport coaching and management (Imeson, 2007).

2.7 Netball

Norman and Rankin-Wright (2018) suggest that addressing female coaching through a sport-specific lens is crucial for research, as women can hold the majority of coaching roles in female-dominated sport. The experience which these coaches endure may be different due to the environment. To date, there is limited research into Netball which examines the experiences or motives of Netball coaches. Previous research (McLean & Mallet, 2012; McLean, Mallett & Newcombe, 2012; Norman, 2012) have used Netball coaches within their research but studies are yet to investigate the coaches solely. Furthermore, past literature has investigated the motivation of participants who attended the ‘Back to Netball’ scheme (Whitehead, Walsh, Whittaker & Cronin, 2019), therefore, presenting opportunity to explore and contrast results between coach and participants. Therefore, current study will be examined in England, within the context of Netball independently.

Netball is a fast-paced game which is played of two teams of seven players. Players are restricted by their position on court and will pass the ball by different means of passes but are restricted to 3 seconds. The object is to gain possession and score goals within a defined area and the winning team is the one which scores the most goals at the end of 60 minutes. Worldwide, Netball is played in over 80 countries with over 20 million individuals participating. Predominantly, more popular by females and in commonwealth nations (Netball Australia, 2019).

Netball is the most participated sport in England by females, accounting for a total of 3.4% of the population in 2018 (England Netball, 2018a). Since the Gold medal win at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, participation rates have risen by 130,700 (England Netball, 2019). Netball can be coached at community level not only as of the traditional game, but also through other types of games and initiatives such as Back to Netball, Walking Netball and High 5 Netball. Coaches develop high-quality, participant-centred sessions and 73% of netball participants state coaching has made their experience “much better” (England Netball., 2018, p. 3). England Netball has seen a 9% decrease in coaches since 2015, as well as a 5% decrease for those qualifying at Level 1 coaching course. England Netball coaching community are predominately volunteers, with approximately 13,000 individuals volunteering across England to coach netball. Alongside these, 84 employed staff and 300 casual coaches are employed by England Netball. Of these, only 37% of those coaches feel valued by England Netball. 4,750 coaches are needed in the next three years to meet the current growth demands of Netball in England (England Netball, 2018). England Netball is dedicated to equal opportunities for all employees and is committed to addressing underrepresentation in its workplace and encourages applications from those individuals from the BAME community, disabled people and people from the LGBT+ Community (England Netball, n.d.). Although at present, England Netball lacks diversity and its coaching cohort consists of only six percent from a BAME community (England Netball, 2018).

1.2    Research Aim and Objectives

The main purpose of this study was to gain a greater understanding of coaches’ motives in a community-based sport setting, in an effort to identify strategies for improving the experience of coaches and enhancing coach-organisational relationship. The research also attempted to answer the following questions: 

RQ1: What are the motives of female coaches involved in community sport?

RQ2: What factors could potentially contribute to the experience and perceptions of underrepresented coaches within community sport?

RQ3: What impact does the process of organisations’ support systems have on the development of community-level coaches?

The purpose of the research is to gain a better understanding and develop the literature to the wider coaching demographic. To date, little research has investigated coach motivation in community sport and underrepresented coaches. There is a considerable amount of current research into understanding female performance coaches’ due to high underrepresentation, but many coaches who coach performance sport begin their coaching career coaching community sport. Therefore, through understanding the motives which these coaches experience, the research can benefit to develop a greater pathway and potentially increase retention of female coaches within the sporting community.

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This research is also in line with Sport England’s current coaching plan to understand and create a more diverse coaching workforce. Understanding the motives of these individuals can lead to the enhancement of recruitment and retention of further underrepresented coaches. Also, the greater diverse coaching workforce; participants are able to be coached by those who are empathetic to their needs and reflective of their social environment, whilst also increasing role models for those participants.

Coaches come through a pathway through community coaching (even if that is at a young age).




While coaching motivation first dates back to 1995 (Fortier, Vallerand, Briere & Provencher 1995), research has focused mainly on the coach-athlete relationship and the impact which coaches have on the athletes motivation, with less attention been paid to the coaches motivation themselves, and within a performance sport setting.  The study is the first of its kind to research motivation in a female predominately sport in a community-based setting. The present research provided more understanding into the motives of coaches in community sport. Further, contributing insight into underrepresented coach experiences and perceptions from a predominately all-female sport in a community sport setting. The results identified that community coaches demonstrated self-determined motivation, specifically intrinsic and integrated regulated (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Underrepresented coaches’ perceptions demonstrated that female coaches believe there is a discrimination between male and female in sport, which plays a key underpinning in why females are underrepresented in coaching. Additionally, the impact of which sport organisation support provides to the coach was further investigated with cross-examination of development and motivation of the coach. The research clearly illustrates that coaches recognise the need for sport organisations commitment and additional mentoring schemes that would develop, and impact the coaches’ autonomy and competence, thus maximise coaches’ basic psychological needs.

Investigation is meaningful in the domain of coach motivation because it can assist to provide understanding about what job conditions promote intrinsic motivation, integrated regulation of extrinsic motivation and engage those underrepresented. Coaches need to function in a climate that maximises psychological need for competence, autonomy and relatedness, as well as CPD and job satisfaction. Such circumstances allow for coaches to experience greater feelings of persistence of tasks and psychological well-being, whilst developing on the competence and motives of the participants. From this research, one aspect is evident: women want to coach and are motivated to coach. Therefore, further research must give consideration to community coaches, and more requires to be done by organisations to reduce underrepresentation.



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