The strategic decision making and match preparations of expert Rugby Union coaches
Perkins, S. John
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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This investigation has attempted to reveal the processes by which expert rugby union coaches determined match strategy for particular matches, the knowledge that facilitated this decision-making and how the coach acquired and developed this knowledge. Such enquiry was deemed important due to two factors: firstly the apparent centrality of the Coach's strategic direction of his team's performance to the pursuit of competitive success. Also a strong positive relationship postulated by several researchers, between expertise and the nature and effectiveness of the practitioner's decision-making, suggests that understanding of that practitioner's decision-making processes is critical to an understanding of the nature of his or her expertise. Inductive analysis of in-depth interviews with five expert rugby union coaches suggested that the Coach's strategic preparations for competition included five major concepts, the Coach's game philosophy, the generation of match strategies, match preparation, performance evaluation, and the knowledge and skills facilitating strategic direction. A significant influencing concept in decision-making was the Coach's game philosophy, an abstract knowledge structure that represented how he would like his team to play if it was not subject to the constraints of its own ability and the likely effect of the opposition's efforts. The Coach's particular match strategies represented a compromise of his game philosophy imposed by these two factors, his perception of his own team's ability to facilitate the game philosophy. The game philosophy informed the Coach's match preparations and performance evaluation, both of his own team and future opposition. It was a function of the Coach's experience, both personal and vicarious, and this study attempted to explain its acquisition and development in terms of a theory from mainstream cognitive psychology. Implications for coach education were identified that suggested coach education programmes should provide a broad range of opportunities for developing coaches to challenge themselves in strategic problem-solving situations; only through this experience will the Coach develop a game philosophy that is both personal and strategically effective.
MSc Coaching Science
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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