The Role of The Coach in Elite Equestrian Sport

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Abstract

British Equestrian (BE) aims to develop a holistic coach education and certification program, moving away from traditional autocratic
instruction in line with the United Kingdom (UK) Coaching Framework. This framework is based on generic coaching science research where the
coach is cited as a pivotal aspect in developing sporting success. Theoretic knowledge suggests that the role of the sports coach is to develop the
physical, tactical, technical and psychological attributes of the athlete and is responsible for the planning, organization and delivery of the training
plan and competition schedule. However, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that is the role required in equestrian sport, as the rider often
takes responsibility for many of these tasks. This research aimed to address the void in current knowledge by gaining an understanding of
coaching in equestrian sport at the elite level, to improve coaching education systems through awareness of the role of the coach. A qualitative
method using semi-structured interviews was used. A sample of elite coaches (N=3) and elite riders (N=3) were interviewed. Analysis of the
transcripts revealed a total of 534 meaning units that were further grouped into sub-themes and general themes from the coaches’ perspective
and the riders’ perspective. This led to the development of a final thematic structure revealing major dimensions that characterized coaching
in elite equestrian sport. It was found that the riders at the elite level, coach themselves most of the time therefore can be considered as ‘self-coached’ athletes. However, they do use elite coaches in a mentoring and consultancy role, where they seek guidance from the coach on specific
problems, to sound ideas off or to seek reassurance that what they are doing is correct. Findings from this research suggest that the rider-coach
relationship at the elite level is a professional one, based on trust and respect, but not a close relationship, as seen in other sports. The results
show the imperative need for the BE to educate coaches in coaching the self-coached rider at the elite level, particularly in terms of mentoring
skills. As well as incorporating rider education aimed at developing the independent, self-coached riders
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of physical fitness, medicine and treatment in sport
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022

Keywords

  • Coach; Elite; Equestrian sport

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