Abstract for “Sports and Coaching – Past and Futures” MMU Institute for Performance Research, 25/26 June 2011 Author: Christensen, Mette Krogh Associate Professor, Ph.D. Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics University of Southern Denmark Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M, Denmark Title: Biographical learning in top-level coaching - personal styles and the power of practical sense. There is a growing body of studies in sports coaching cultures, comprising research focusing on the individual learning processes and life histories of top-level coaches. Even if top-level sport has become increasingly professionalized, the role of the top-level coach and the developmental pathways of the coaches differ widely in both areas of experience and amount of experience. In this paper I draw on theories on biographical learning, idiosyncratic learning and development of coaching expertise. This paper explores the relation between these kinds of learning processes and the coaches’ development of practical sense of talent. I base the paper on a sociological analysis of in-depth interviews with eight Danish top-level football coaches about their pathways to expertise. Results illustrate two interwoven aspects of coaching expertise: 1) the coaches’ descriptions of their development of expertise as a “personal journey” and a matter of unique pathways, and 2) the coaches’ use of social constructed practical sense in their daily work, particularly in identification and assessment of skillfulness and talent in young footballers. The results point to an important challenge in coach education and coach socialization: the construction and power of coaches’ personal “styles”.