Exploring formalized elite coach mentoring programmes in the UK: ‘We’ve had to play the game’

Rebecca Sawiuk, Dr Ryan Groom, Dr William Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
105 Downloads (Pure)


Formalized mentoring programmes have been implemented increasingly by UK sporting institutions as a central coach development tool, yet claims supporting formal mentoring as an effective learning strategy are often speculative, scarce, ill-defined and accepted without verification. The aim of this study, therefore, was to explore some of the realities of formalized elite sports coaching mentoring programmes. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews with 15 mentors of elite coaches on formal programmes, across a range of sports. The findings were read through a Bourdieusian lens and revealed the importance of understanding the complexities of elite sports coaching environments, that elite sports coach development is highly specific and, therefore, should not be over-formalized, and how current elite sport coach mentoring programmes may be better conceptualized as a form of social control rather than being driven by pedagogical concerns. Following this empirically based analysis of practice, a number of implications for Governing Bodies, mentors and mentees were considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)619-631
Number of pages13
JournalSport Education & Society
Issue number6
Early online date26 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2018


  • coach education
  • elite coach development
  • formal coach learning
  • mentoring
  • micro-politics
  • Sports coaching


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