Coaches are central to the development of the expert performer and similarly to continued lifelong participation in sport. Coaches are uniquely positioned to deliver specific technical and tactical instruction and mentoring programmes that support the psychological and social development of athletes in a challenging, goal-oriented and motivational environment. The current study aimed to qualitatively investigate current coach learning sources and coaches' educational backgrounds in team sports in Ireland.
Coaches from five team sports in Ireland were asked to complete an online questionnaire. Subsequently male coaches (n = 19) from five team sports who completed the questionnaire and met the inclusion criteria were invited to attend a follow-up semi-structured interview. Inclusion criteria for coaches were that they possess at least 10 years' experience coaching their sport and were coaching more than 4 hours per week.
Formal coach education does not meet the needs of high performance coaches who rely more on self-directed learning and coaching experience as their main sources of CPD. Although prior playing experience at a high level is both valuable and desirable, there are concerns about fast-tracking of ex-players into high performance coaching roles.
Preferred sources of education and the best learning environment for coaches of team sports in Ireland are more informal than formal. Further research is needed to examine how this learning is applied in a practical manner by examining coaching behaviours and the impact it has on the athlete development process.