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)

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



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).

Session 3: Hall: Bleep Test: 20th Nov

This time of year the athletes are required to perform a bleep test to see how they have improved since the last time. This will be used as a starting point to produce a full needs analysis and scheme of work.

What is a Bleep Test?

The multi-stage fitness test, also known as the bleep test, pacer test, Leger-test or 20-m shuttle run test

The Stages involved

(Léger et al.,1988).


The test involves running continuously between two points that are 20 m apart from side to side. These runs are synchronized with a pre-recorded audio tape, CD or laptop software, which plays beeps at set intervals. As the test proceeds, the interval between each successive beep reduces, forcing the athlete to increase their speed over the course of the test, until it is impossible to keep in sync with the recording (or, in rare occasions, if the athlete completes the test). Many people who test people using the Multi-stage fitness test allow one level to beep before the person makes the line, but if the person being tested does not make the next interval then the most recent level they completed is their final score. The recording is typically structured into 21 ‘levels’, each of which lasts around 62 seconds. Usually, the interval of beeps is calculated as requiring a speed at the start of 8.5 km/h, increasing by 0.5 km/h with each level thereafter. The progression from one level to the next is signaled by 3 quick beeps. The highest level attained before failing to keep up is recorded as the score for that test.



Léger, L.A.; Mercier, D.; Gadoury, C.; Lambert, J. (1988). “The multistage 20 metre shuttle run test for aerobic fitness”. J Sports Sci 6 (2): 93–101

Paperwork and Group Observation

In order to begin my coaching placement with the youth athletes group based at Lincoln Welington athletics club, I have given the supervisor: Linda the supervisor paper work. Once recieved back it will be visable in the appendix: supervisor appraisal or click here.

I have been observing the group and, with colaberation with the lead coach, have come to the conclusion that the majority of the group need to focus on fundementals and aerobic fitness. From this the needs anaylsis will be produced.

With further communication with Linda (Lead Coach) the scheme of work will be written and will be seen in more depth on the session reflections.

Session Template

A session plan is the notes used by the coach during training. The session plan includes all of the information needed by the trainer including content, resources and timing.

The content should be organised so that it gives the training session structure and to ensure information is covered in a way that helps trainees to learn.

For an example of a completed session plan refer to session_plan_example.

To write a session plan you need to know the learning outcome for the Long term goals. If you don’t have a learning outcome you will need to write one first.

This process enables the coaching cycle: