Exploring Biographical Learning In Danish Elite Football Coaching Mette Krogh Christensen Abstract for EASS 2011(300 words) Background: There is a growing body of studies in sports coaching cultures, comprising research focusing on the individual learning processes and life histories of elite coaches. Even if high performance sport has become increasingly professionalized, the role of the elite coach and the developmental pathways of the coaches differ widely in both areas of experience and amount of experience. Objectives: This paper draws on theories on biographical learning and idiosyncratic learning paths in a qualitative study of the relationship between these kinds of learning processes and the coaches’ development of a sense of coaching expertise. Methods: The study was based on a micro-sociological and constructivist analysis of qualitative research interviews with Danish elite football coaches (n=8) about their pathways in elite sport. Using Kvale’s recommendations, thematic analysis was conducted by the use of meaning coding. In addition, a theoretical reading of the interview was conducted on the background of Alheit’s concept of biographicity and Werthner and Trudel’s constructivist perspective on learning situations. Results: Results pointed at unmediated learning situations being in favour of mediated learning situations as pivotal in coaches’ learning paths towards a sense of expertise. The workings of mediated and unmediated learning situations were straightforwardly narrated by the coaches, whereas internal learning situations seemed to be of a different and far more complex nature involving the biographicity of the learner. The term ‘breathing spaces’ may illustrate the way in which biographicity ‘oxides’ the coach’s sense of coaching expertise. This autopoietic resource more or less deliberately pervaded the coaches’ thoughts and actions, the better to understand what they learned in any given situation. Conclusion: This study points to an important challenge in coach education and coach socialization: the construction and power of coaches’ sense of expertise as matter of personal styles.
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EASS - European Association for Sociology of Sport, 2011