Power in Coaching Part 2

Three main sociological theories were discussed today:-

  1. Foucault
  2. Bourdieu
  3. Goffman

This lecture is a continuation from the previous power relations. Piggott (2013) discussed Foucault Docile bodies’ theory. This is understood in relation to ‘the expert’ being with power and knowledge:- creating rationality, regimes, routines, which are given in discipline [practises. This autocratic method is often displayed in elite athlete coaching where the coach doesn’t allow a lot of questions and gives more power to the coach.

“Power and violence are opposites: where one rules absolutely, the other is absent”

(Arendt, 1970)

Arendt describes the power playing a key role in coaching and gaining respect from the athletes. With out power as a coach would result in chaos.

These docile bodies are the athletes that follow the instructions without question to authority or purpose of the training regime (Piggott, 2013). This relates well with the hypodermic Syringe Model of sociology: the audience passively accepts the message “injected” into them from the coach (Billington et al., 1991).

2. Bourdieu (1990) states “of the opposition that artificially divide social science, is that set up of subjective and objective.” This is clear in terms of coaching when athletes view coaching for their capital. For instance, if the coach is younger than them, they will automatically assume that they have more power as they are older, and must be wiser (Piggott, 2012)

There are 3 main aspects explored within this approach: Social (interaction with athlete- coach), Symbolic (Qualification and awards) and Cultural (upbringing, language use and clothing) (Piggott, 2012). Using Bourdieu’s concepts as analytical tools enables examination of social actors’ behaviour and how resultant relationships are played out in communal areas (Brown, 2005). Here a construction of habitus, field, capital and practice hold relevance. Together they enable a consideration of coaching as ‘cultural economy’ (Nash, 1990).

3. Goffman in described in Potrac et al. (2002) as ‘Levitate Power’ which is a concept of managing the players to gain and keep respect. This highlights low interaction with the athletes as they are always guided or told instruction (Piggott, 2012). This structure is formed around the face work, i.e. how the coach delivers the session; the impression on the athletes, which is managed accordingly and then controls for the accountability (Potrac et al., 2002)

Session 11 Reflection: Hall Session: Plyometric

Unfortunatly the weather hindered the attendence ratio. however with the ones that made it, well done! You all gave 110%.

As the participant numbers were low the circuit was changed to 6 stations, of which focused on whole body strength endurance.

Instead of game for the end we coachs suggested standing long jump and triple jump practice. this proved effective as they all were outstanding. This means on tuesday I hope, the standing long jump test can be achieved.

As a coach I feel with the lower numbers I was able to be there for all of them alot more. This relates to the power relationship section well.

Session 11: Hall Plyometric

Warm up – Coach lead circle dynamics

  1. Handout of Plyometric Consent forms/recieve forms
  2. Data collection to be recorded on Thursday 24th

Plyometric Circuit

  1. Hop (Double)
  2. Plank
  3. ZigZag Hops (Double)
  4. Burpees
  5. Frog Jumps
  6. Plyometric Push-ups
  7. Situp

Warm down Game

  1. Ladders or athlete chosen


  1. Data collection on thursday regardless of weather
  2. Health and Safety

Power in Coaching 1

It is fundamental to be able to have an active, understandable power relationship while coaching groups and individuals in sport (Jones, 2009: Piggot, 2012). Power is present in all social relationships and possessed by all individuals and social groups, arising out of their connections to each other (Gruneau, 1993). It reflects the ability to influence others to further interests and/or to resist the activities of others (Atlee and Atlee, 1992). Lyle (2002) notes the coach-athlete relationship is no exception and the exercise of power is an internal social issue.

“Managing interactions is key to social knowledge”

(Davey, 2008, p.43: Piggot, 2012)

Piggott (2012) indicates the importance of power relationships within coaching groups; involving the coaching commandments of Jones et al, 2009. These commandments associate with the 4 main coaching points: Behavior management, Communication, Differentiation and Planning.

                        ten commands

(Piggott, 2012)

In order for the coaching to take place; the coach must be recognized as the authority figure (also known as specified person in their field). This will provide mental trust with the athletes – coach relationship, which in affect will increase respect and buy in to sessions/advise/competitions. It is important in the planning of sessions that the participant’s characteristics in physical and mental are known, as this will generate the correct challenges in the sport.

However this power can cause conflict if not used correctly. Coaches can use power both negatively and positively (Dodge and Roberston, 2004). Potrac et al (2002) found coaches were positive on the ratio of 33:1. This suggests that through time coaches have found negative use of power to have less or a detrimental on athlete performance.

A prime example of how a coach uses power is evident in the insertion of new exercise into a current training program. A coach could use solely legitimate power to encourage athletes to try new exercises, since the role of the coach demands respect. This is could be followed and enforced by a rewarding (reward power) the athlete with a shorter session. Alternatively the athlete could be forced to partake or face a punishment of 50 press-ups. The coach could tell the athlete that these exercises were what made him/her a world champion (referent power) and inform them of previous successes of other athletes who use the same method (expert). A negative use of power could involve making one particular athlete of the whole team clear up after other group members. ‘The challenge to the coach is to recognize the power and learn how to use it rationally with discretion.’ Kinsman (1999)

To conclude this it is important to provide a balance in coaching, aka: don’t take it too seriously!

Mental Imagery

Due to the restrictions of training at present the use of mental imagery will be incorporated. Lang (1977, 1979) states that Bioinformational theory concludes motor programming occurring while visualizing movement. This coordinates well with Bird (1984) who discusses psychoneuromusclar theory.

Lang (1979) observes the bodies’ electrical system within the nervous system while making a free throw in basketball and imagining the same throw. This suggests that there is muscle activation in the preliminary phases (before contraction) in imagination setting that mimic the participant’s free throws in real life. Like an electrical control unit in car. AKA learning motor unit recruitment and movement patterns before commencement.

Bird’s (1984) EMG study reveals imagery producing real stimuli, which are 2/3 of an action. This study takes mental practice into account.

mental practise

                       (Crust, 2012, Lecture Notes)

An example of Imagery in Sport

This proves crucial to performance enhancment, this can be transfered to athetics for function of movements and sequeces used in sprinting to the more technical javelin throw.

In the next session, today at 6:30, the use of imagery will be explained to the athletes and its potential gains in performance.


Bird, E. (1984). EMG quantification of mental rehearsal. Perceptual and Motor Skills,59, 899-906.

Crust, L. (2012). Lecture Notes: Mental Imagery for Physical People. University of Lincoln.

Lang, P. J. (1977). Imagery in therapy: An information-processing analysis of fear. Behavior Therapy, 8, 862-886.

Lang, P. J. (1979). A bio-informational theory of emotional imagery. Psychophysiology, 16, 495-512.

Video source




As stated on the LWAC website, the last 2 training sessions were cancelled due to the weather conditions. Hopefully this tuesday we are in the hall and can discuss the plyometric program and pre/post testing arrangements.

In the mean time Iwill be adding the upcoming program in the appendix section and writing further posts to improve my coaching knowledge.

session 10: shuttle run- relays

Todays session went well. to begin i decided to give the athletes an opportunity to coach thier peers during the warm up. this was proven to be a success as they were having fun and working hard. this will be continued for further coaching sessions, to give them all a chance.

The delivery of the main session was of an autocratic style, due to time restrictions. however motivation was delivered throughout the sessions and the athletes encouraged others and themselves to push hard through the 25m shuttle run sprints.

As the session went so well; the cool down was a game of their choice. this encourages positive behaviour for future training sessions.

Session 9 Reflection

The session went well apart from 2 athletes not wanting to get involved. Reasons could be them not wanting to be at athletics on this occasion or my coaching style being autocratic? However I won’t know till I ask them in person.

Future sessions will have to keep all athletes engaged within the sessions. This suggests research into session delivery and psychological understanding will provide a good starting point which will be posted in the planning section.

Session 9: Hall FUNdementals of plyometric training

Today’s session will be focusing on plyometrics around CHU & Potash (2008) training developments for performance. This has been chosen as it corresponds well with the ABC development (Almond & Whitehead, 2012). Also this will act as introduction and familiarization into the dissertation “comparison between Tartan and grass on standing long jump performance” requirements.

See session plan tab: session 9


Potash, D.H.; CHU, D.A.. (2008). Plyometric training. In: Earle, R.W. and Baechle, T.R., (Eds.), Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning. (3rd ed.) (414–455). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Almond, L.; Whitehead, M. (2012). “Physical Literacy: Clarifying the Nature of the Concept”. Physical Education Matters 7 (1).