Insights from an examination of a state league coach development initiative in community Australian Football (AFL) clubs

Shane Pill, Deb Agnew, Liz Abery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The need to generate empirical evidence regarding the nature of coach development in sports coaching to inform more meaningful coach education programmes is recognised. Understanding the professional development of sport coaches is a developing and growing area of scholarship, with calls for the implementation and evaluation of mentoring programmes that provide in situ contextualised mentoring to support coach development. Purpose: This paper provides insights gained from the examination of a coach education programme in Australia run by a state Australian football (AFL: Australian Football League) sporting body that utilised the role of a dedicated coach developer to facilitate community club coach development. Method: The research was guided by an interpretivist perspective and used a qualitative methodology enabling the researchers to make meaning from the data. Focus groups (N = 4: 12 participants) and semi-structured individual interviews (N = 9) were used to collect data. The interviews were analysed utilising inductive thematic analysis. Themes derived from interpretative analysis of the interview data were then analysed using an abductive process of induction and deduction to consider the data through the lens of the theoretical framework: situated learning. Results: The four themes developed were: reliance on volunteers; coach development resources, barriers and facilitators of coach development and club culture. The study found that cultivating coach education as a community of practice is not easy in an environment that is reliant on a volunteer workforce. Conclusion: A club culture that places a focus on a positive player environment through quality coaching tends to invest in a coach and player retention, and parent satisfaction and engagement. The affiliation of positive physical, social and cultural concepts with a positive player environment led clubs to anticipate success in these areas and a translation to the best possible quality in coaching practice, sustainable learning and knowledge acquisition. Further research is warranted to broaden knowledge of the scope of practice across other states in Australia and other sporting bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-361
Number of pages14
JournalPhysical Education and Sport Pedagogy
Issue number4
Early online date15 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • coach development
  • Coach education
  • football
  • situated learning


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