Alun Hardman - Developing Ethics in Sports Coaches

Developing Professional Ethics in Sports Coaching:
Phronesis & Practical Wisdom
Alun Hardman, PhD.
Cardiff School of Sport
Aims & objectives
• Examine the moral and ethical dimensions of sports coaching
“Good coaching”
- theoretical knowledge
- applied skills
- practical wisdom
Identify development of coaching ethics in coach education
 UKCC Quality Assurance for Coach Education
 Coaching Standards Group
 Coaching “Life-Skills”
Coaching Phronesis & Practical Wisdom: a case study
 Implications & issues for coach education
What is “Good” Coaching?
“Sport coaches work in dynamic conditions where one cannot know for sure
what will happen next, and where coaches’ actions do not necessarily have
immediate and knowable effects” (Saury & Durand, 1998).
• This suggests coaching is . . . Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, Challenging,
Imprecise, Extensive, etc
Constituents of good coaching . . .
• Practice
– effective coaching structures and activity
• Purpose
– appropriate and clear coaching goals
• Person
– morally commendable values, character and behaviour
“Good” Coaching - I
• Theoretical Knowledge & Understanding
– Epistēmē – scientific knowledge concerned with the
world of necessary truths, which stand apart from the
world of everyday contingencies
– Principles of coaching knowledge, i.e.
Maturation and growth
Physiological stress adaptation
Mechanics of sports performance
Acquisition of skill
Optimum pedagogic practice
Social configurations of sport coaching
“Good” Coaching - II
• Applied skills & abilities
– Technē – a disposition to produce something by way
of reason - useful knowledge practically applied
– Principles of coaching skill, i.e.
• Observation, analysis, evaluation of performance.
• Implementation of effective interventions
• Development, assessment & evaluation of coaching
“Good” Coaching - III
• Practical wisdom and moral judgment
– Phronesis – the capacity to recognise, in any
particular situation, those features of it that are
morally salient, and subsequently be moved, and
thereafter act in a principled way that produces the
best moral outcome.
– Principles of coaching wisdom, i.e.
• Wealth of coaching experience
• Critical self-reflection
• Emulation and role-modelling
Technē v Phronesis
Technical rationality - hegemonic dominance
Technical achieves a measure of objectivity . . .
• . . . as an instantiation of theoretical knowledge
• . . . because its procedures are transparent, measurable and
• . . . as a measure that prevents the subjectivity of the coach
Phronesis in Coaching
Good coaching cannot be calculated in advance .
“. . . phronesis calls for application in light of
the existing situation within which the actor
finds herself. In phronesis one approaches an
understanding of the universal in light of the
particular, rather than the other way around”
(Gallagher 1992:153).
Practical wisdom and professional development
Phronesis -- learned through gaining the right experiences.
• One becomes good by doing good deeds (Dunne 1993)
• Dependent on being in the presence of good role models.
• Virtue of Emulation and Meno’s paradox (Dunne 1993).
Implications for Coach Education
• Phronesis
– “Front & centre” of development programmes
– Embedded at all coaching levels
– “Authentic” coaching practice as the basis for ALL
– Mentoring & emulation as the core pedagogic
Case Study
'expert' male Individual Olympic sport s- participation/performance athletes (424 yrs).
Data Collection
Semi-structured interviews, observations, video-analysis, field-notes.
Pre-interview -- video recording -- coaching review -- post review reflection
“Christ, I thought I was strong but how strong am I? I watched the video and questioned
am I actually getting this right? It challenged my philosophy and also how I think I apply
that to practice. It's quite easy to talk about this stuff but actually seeing it ... then having
conversation based on the initial discussion but embedded in the video was useful. What I
think I am doing and what is actually in my practice is different, there are challenges in my
practice to fully interpret moral philosophy into practice.
Phronesis – Issues
• Resources • “intensity” of developing, implementing and assessing phronesis.
• Technification • phronesis recast as a technical enterprise – Life-skills coaching
(Gould, 2008)
• Mentoring & emulation • balancing autonomy/independence with guidance/prescription
• Practically wise • ‘modified’ phronesis for entry level coaching?
Arnold, P. J. (1992) Sport as a Valued Human Practice: a basis for the consideration of
some moral issues in sport, Journal of Philosophy of Education. Volume 26, Issue 2,
pages 237–255
Arnold, P. J. (2001) Sport, moral development, and the role of the teacher: implications
for research and moral education, Quest, 53, 135-150.
Mendus, S. (2008), Life's Ethical Symphony., ournal of Philosophy of Education, 42: 201–
Standal, Øyvind F. & Hemmestad, Liv B. (2010) Becoming a good coach: coaching and
phronesis, in Hardman, A. & Jones, C. The ethics of sports coaching. London,
Gould, D. & Carson , S. (2008) Life skills development through sport: current status and
future directions, International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 1, 1; 58 – 78.

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