The following study analyzed the career development of Paralympic head coaches who had previously been Paralympic athletes. The study aimed to better understand the learning pathways within kinesiology coaching with a specific leaning towards parasport. The study was done through the format of a semi-structured interview which revealed three overlapping themes in terms of kinesiology coaching and instruction. Vital concepts to the study included interactions between coaches and athletes with disabilities, learning processes from mentors or coaching clinics, and limited formal education opportunities moving from an athlete to the position of a head coach. Due to this, coaches were able to acquire most of their knowledge from informal sources and experiences from their days as athletes, often relying on trial and error. This study reveals a number of concerns, including the current gap within sport and kinesiology education for Paralympic and parasport professionals. The research focuses on terms of mentoring and a lack of transition resources for those moving from performing athletes to coaches. Additionally, there was strong agreement that enhanced recruitment of parasport coaches would likely develop better educational opportunities not only at the Paralympic level but also among grassroots organizations.
The following article was written by three authors, including Scott Douglas, William Falcão, and Gordon Bloom. Douglas is an associate professor at the School of Sport and Exercise Science and College of Natural and Health Sciences with extensive research in topics such as coaching expertise and education and perceptions of disability. Falcão is an assistant professor of sports psychology at McGill University with experience in coaching. Bloom is a professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education with expertise in coaching knowledge and behaviors, pedagogy, sport psychology, psychology of athletic injuries, and team building.
The interview was structured in four segments, with the first asking introductory questions which familiarized the interviewers with the coaches’ disabilities. Second, the study collected information regarding the background of the participants, including their athletic experiences in their lives and their involvement in coaching (Douglas et al., 2017). The third section focused on the development of coaching within the context of Paralympic athlete instructions, such as their career evolution. Fourth, the interviewees were asked about their further ambitions for knowledge development and instructions for future coaches. The collected information illuminated the previous and current state of coaching within parasport.
The study revealed the ways in which coaches first engage with kinesiology instruction, with many being requested to be assistant coaches before they had even retired as athletes. Though they were often unable to attain adequate resources or experience from formal sources, they noted that they were able to develop their skills, leadership, ability to teach, and knowledge of kinesiology through direct engagement. The majority of interviewed coaches did not ever aim to coach as they began their careers as parasport athletes but had managed to develop from personal experience to become well-established instructors. Despite this, the issue remains concerning the current lack of appropriate developmental pathways for coaches within parasport settings. The participants revealed that a substantial amount of their knowledge had come from their days as athletes, which certain individuals may not be able to obtain. As such, kinesiology coaching in the context of parasport requires further expansion and accessibility. This could be implemented as programs that are targeted at athletes and coaches in parasport from younger ages to much later in an individual’s career.
Douglas, Scott et al. “Career Development and Learning Pathways of a Paralympic Coach with a Disability”. Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 1, 2017, pp.1–18.