An analysis of the value of multiple mentors in formalised elite coach mentoring programmes

Rebecca Sawiuk, Dr Ryan Groom, Dr William Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
40 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Within the context of sports coaching and coach education,
formalised mentoring relationships are often depicted as a mentor–
mentee dyad. Thus, mentoring within sports coaching is typically
conceptualised as a one-dimensional relationship, where the mentor is
seen as the powerful member of the dyad, with greater age and/or
experience [Colley, H. (2003). Mentoring for Social Inclusion. London:
Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the concept of a multiple mentor
system in an attempt to advance our theoretical and empirical
understanding of sports coach mentoring. In doing so, this paper builds
upon the suggestion of Jones, Harris, and Miles [(2009). “Mentoring in
Sports Coaching: A Review of the Literature.” Physical Education and
Sport Pedagogy 14 (3): 267–284] who highlight the importance of
generating empirical research to explore current mentoring approaches
in sport, which in turn can inform meaningful formal coach education
enhancement. The significance of this work therefore lies in opening up
both a practical and a theoretical space for dialogue within sports coach
education in order to challenge the traditional dyadic conceptualisation
of mentoring and move towards an understanding of ‘mentoring in
Method: Drawing upon Kram’s [(1985). Mentoring at Work: Developmental
Relationships in Organisational Life. Glenview, IL: Scott Foresman]
foundational mentoring theory to underpin a multiple mentoring
support system, 15 elite coach mentors across a range of sports were
interviewed in an attempt to explore their mentoring experiences.
Subsequently, an inductive thematic analysis endeavoured to further
investigate the realities and practicalities of employing a multiple
mentoring system in the context of elite coach development.
Results: The participants advocated support for the utilisation of a multiple
mentor system to address some of the inherent problems and
complexities within elite sports coaching mentoring. Specifically, the
results suggested that mentees sourced different mentors for specific
knowledge acquisition, skills and attributes. For example, within a
multiple mentor approach, mentors recommended that mentees use a
variety of mentors, including cross-sports and non-sport mentors.
Conclusion: Tentative recommendations for the future employment of a
multiple mentoring framework were considered, with particular
reference to cross-sports or non-sport mentoring experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-413
Number of pages11
JournalPhysical Education & Sport Pedagogy
Issue number4
Early online date22 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2017


  • Sports coaching
  • coach learning
  • multiple mentoring
  • formal coach learning
  • coach development


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