Coaching knowledge and the conceptual process of understanding technique and skill development in elite gymnastics
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Coaches’ knowledge of technique plays a fundamental role in the process of skill development. Further, a Coach’s understanding for the conceptual mechanisms underpinning how coaches develop and utilise knowledge is desirable to facilitate explaining this process. The aims of this study were first to explore the resources used by elite gymnastics coaches during the initial and current stages of increasing their knowledge. Second, to gain a conceptual understanding of how coaches use this knowledge to understand technique during skill development. Six High Performance Woman’s Artistic gymnastic coaches participated in a semi-structured, open-ended interview, followed by content analysis. Results demonstrated that the quality and availability of the knowledge gained relied on the accessibility and production of a gymnast performing at the elite level. A model is presented highlighting the centrality of the 'ability of the coach', to the process of skill development. The results further demonstrated that the 'ability of the coach' is influenced by a multitude of variables. In addition, successful performance of gymnastics skill is underpinned by the coach’s ability to construct a working environment specific to the needs (physiological, psychological and technical) of the individual gymnast. Adaptations to the learning environment were present through the alteration of preparatory activity (progression) training programme and communication with more established coaches. These facilitate the most appropriate learning environment for each individual athlete. The overall importance of a technical understanding within gymnastics is determined by the attention attributed to this essential aspect of performance by the coaches.
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