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Reflective practice in sport coaching: an autoethnographic exploration into the lived experiences of one coach

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posted on 01.03.2017, 01:35 authored by Ang, Denis
This study seeks to contribute to the growing pool of knowledge on the use of alternative representation of lived experiences to advance practical understandings in sport coaching. Documenting a self-inquiry into my coaching practice, this study demonstrates the value of autoethnography as a methodology to deepen knowledge from experiences. By illuminating my coach-researcher voice through a self-narrative, this study shows how autoethnography is able to immerse the sport researcher in his or her own corporeal reality and engage embodied reflection of lived experiences to develop deeper pedagogical insights (Smith & Sparkes, 2009a). Effective coaching of community sport in Singapore is limited by coaches’ ability to make their practical experiences meaningful (Cronin & Armour, 2013; Cushion, Armour, & Jones, 2003). Although novel representations contextualise expressions of social reality, the encouragement of silent authorship and impersonal representations of experiences by realist tales has raised questions on its legitimacy (Sparkes, 2000). Jones (2009) asserted that there should more inward attention to the interplay between emotions, thoughts, and actions should practitioners wish to have a better understanding of their practice. The existing under-appreciation of richly informative “hidden knowledge” (Jones, 2009, p. 385) during coaching practice has left sport coaches like myself with an abstracted consciousness of our lifeworld. The approach of this study is to present a descriptive and evocative account of my lived experiences in community sport coaching. This study uses phenomenology as a framework, in particular van Manen’s (1990) idea of the Phenomenology of Practice, because it offers the opportunity to facilitate an understanding of my lived experiences during coaching practice and my lifeworld as it is lived (Allen-Collinson, 2009; Dixon, Lee, & Ghaye, 2013; Thorburn, 2008). Through an emphasis on reflexive re-living and a reflective appropriation of meaningful interpretations, hermeneutic phenomenology provides this study with a methodological framework to explicate phenomena as they are presented to human consciousness (van Manen, 1990, 2014). Using the autoethnographic research method, this phenomenological investigation allowed the explorations to take an incantative, evocative speaking, and primal telling form that languages an authentic version of the world (van Manen, 1984). The style of writing for this study is unique to me and is done in the spirit of autoethnography (Ellis & Bochner, 2000; Sparkes, 2000). By representing my embodied experiences using a self-narrative, the research text presented descriptions of the experiential meaning of my lived world as I live them in my coaching practice (Allen-Collinson, 2005; Sparkes, 1995). Structuring the hermeneutic phenomenological reflection and discussion using existential themes of spatiality, temporality, relationality, and corporeality (van Manen, 1990), this study was able to engage me in a systematic, explicit, and self-critical autoethnographic exploration into my coaching practice. Through the embodied reflective process, I would eventually realise that the phenomenological inquirer in me cannot be separated from the sport coach within me. This self-inquiry demonstrates the potential of using autoethnography as a research tool to investigate the interwoven essential structures of lived experiences located within the sport coach’s lifeworld and also reveal the usefulness of embodied experiential learning for sport coaches to develop deeper pedagogical consciousness.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Trent Brown

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre


Degree Type



Faculty of Education