Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) 5th International Conference 2019

Sports students sit in a circle in a sports hall

International Coaching Conference at the University of Worcester Arena, 4-5 September 2019    


The School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester presented the fifth International Coaching Conference on behalf of the Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) and in association with Sports Coaching Review, Manchester Metropolitan University and Cardiff Metropolitan University.   

This fifth international conference (a full programme of the event is available) provided an invaluable platform from which some of the most important and contemporary debates in the field of sports coaching were discussed.  Clustered around four central themes, the conference featured two jam-packed days of scholarly discourse and proved an invaluable opportunity to engage with cutting edge research from some of the leading researchers in sports coaching.

The themes for this conference comprised:

  • The role, value and professional learning of coach developers
  • The multidisciplinary considerations of decision making in coaching
  • Inclusive coaching practice, policy and education
  • Contemporary debates in sports coaching practice  



Several Logos in a line. These include: Cluster Research int Teaching, Manchester Metropolitan University and Cardiff Metropolitan University



Registration is now closed. 

Find us:

Travelling to and around Worcester

The University has three main sites: St John's Campus, City Campus and Severn Campus. The St John’s and City Campus are a pleasant 20-minute walk from each other, with the Severn Campus conveniently situated between the two.

For travel details see our find us pages.      

Terms & Conditions/Cancellation Policy for Conferences and Events    

1. If a delegate is unable to attend an event for any reason they may substitute, by arrangement with the event administrator, someone else from the same institute/organisation.  

2. If a delegate is unable to attend, and is not in a position to transfer his/her place to another person, the following refund arrangements apply:   

- Bookings cancelled more than 30 days before the event will receive a full refund

- Bookings cancelled less than 30 days before the event will not be eligible for a refund   

3. Cancellations made by delegates after a failed visa application will be refunded in full upon receipt of evidence of the visa refusal.   

Refunds will be made in the following ways:   

• For payments received by credit or debit cards, the same credit/debit card will be refunded

• For all other payments, a bank transfer will be made to the payee nominated account.     

Event Cancellation   

We will do our best to ensure that the event goes ahead, but we reserve the right to cancel at any time.  If we do so (other than for reasons outside of our control), we will refund your event fee in full but will have no further liabilities to you.  In particular we will not meet the costs of any pre-booked travel or external accommodation.  

Call for papers

Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC)

5th International Coaching Conference, 4th-5th September 2019, University of Worcester, UK


The organising committee of CRiC2019 is delighted to invite abstracts for individual papers to be presented at CRiC2019.  Each individual presentation will comprise a 20 minute delivery followed by a short time for questions.  Each paper will be clustered into a coherent symposia of approximately two other similarly-themed submissions.  Each symposia will be chaired by a peer from the CRiC community.

Your abstract should be aligned to one of the conference themes which comprise:

  • The role, value and professional learning of coach developers
  • The multidisciplinary considerations of decision making in coaching
  • Inclusive coaching practice, policy and education
  • Contemporary debates in sports coaching practice

In order to submit your paper, please complete the CRiC2019 submission form including an abstract of up to 500 words and email to   by 4pm on Friday 15th March 2019.

Following submission, each abstract will be peer-reviewed by two members of the scientific committee and you will subsequently be notified by email of our decision as to whether to accept your paper.

Reviewing criteria:

  • Clarity of the focus of the research
  • Originality of the research
  • Rigour of the research
  • Significance of the research for sports coaching practice, policy or theory

Processes and timescales:

  • Call for abstracts - by 4pm, Friday 15 March 2019                 
  • Emailed receipt of abstract - within two working days of submission    
  • Authors notified of decision - Friday 29 March 2019            
  • Early bird registration opens -  Monday 15 April 2019           
  • Early bird registration closes - Wednesday 15 May 2019       
  • Presenting authors to be registered - Monday 3 June 2019        
  • Provisional programme announced - Wednesday 15 June 2019         
  • Delegate registrations close -  Friday 5 July 2019

Keynote speakers


Dr Brian Gearity

Theoretical lenses and conceptual bricks: Organizing and mobilizing critical sport coaching research in neoliberal times.

Sociological studies of sport coaching flourished the past 20 years, propelling the entire field forward, making it more visible. Some of the field’s best coach developers and social theorists sparked a revolution in the academic literature. Nowadays, it’s commonplace, but probably just within the academic literature, to hear sport coaching referred to as complex, messy, and occurring within ever changing cultures and relations of power and knowledge. Bourdieu, Foucault, Goffman, Kelchtermans, Noddings, Schon, Wenger are but a few of the theorists that scholars in coach education have drawn upon to shed light on power and previously unnamed experiences or experiences interpreted through a dominant theoretical lens that sucked up our interpretive horizons or multiplicities.

Nowadays, we’re seeing more. And yet, I feel unease. Organizations in sport and coaching don’t, or only superficially, draw upon this work. Students in universities want the easy answers of exercise science or sport psychology, coaches just need some drills for that evening’s practice, or coach developers oblige these consumers, give them want they want, not what they need, and speak of practice, practice, practice, as if it were disconnected from theory. And of course in today’s age, capitalism serves up coaching workshops delivered by faux scholars pumped out to the masses on social media and self-published books, or pop fiction cloaked as a textbook. While we dream these messages fall upon deaf ears, unfortunately the effect of these dominant discourses is to obscure wisdom and progress. So, what’s a scholar to do with their sophisticated theoretical lenses and conceptual tools in neoliberal times? Do we lay some bricks to build an edifice that organizes and mobilizes our institutional power? Or do we throw our bricks through windows and walls made of glass and straw to continue to map and critique sport coaching’s taken for granted assumptions and abuses of power?



Professor John Lyle

CRiC2019, in association with Sports Coaching Review, is delighted to announce: Professor John Lyle, Leeds Beckett University “Re-considering our direction of travel: Bringing pragmatism to sport coaching research” 

For the practitioner, the potency and relevance of research conducted in sport coaching is, in great measure, equal to the truth it speaks to the coach's practice and beliefs. This keynote address challenges the research community to re-evaluate its collective contribution to the sport coaching collective.  

It suggests that a greater sense of humility is required in recognising and accepting the contributions of fellow researchers, and in valuing the coach's capacity to distinguish the 'here and now' from its underlying determinants. Some responsibility must be assumed for translating decision policies and sociocultural complexities into meaningful education and development.


JA profile head and shoulders

Dr Justine Allen

Athlete-centred coaching: Simple, isn’t it?

That coaching practice should be athlete-centred and coaches should place the athlete at the centre of the process has become a common message to practitioners (often from researchers). It is simple, put the athletes first and consider their needs as paramount. For some, this view reinforces beliefs about ‘how coaching should be’. For others, it challenges ‘how things have always been done’ and their experiences of coaching ‘that worked for them and their athletes’. Is this notion of athlete-centred coaching mere rhetoric with good intentions or grounded in an evidence base that reflects the realities of what coaches do and why? This keynote address considers whether the notion of athlete-centred coaching is as simple as it appears. 



Diane M. Culver, PhD


Making a Difference for Coach Development: Supporting and Assessing Learning across Landscapes of Practice 

For the last two decades Dr Diane Culver and her research colleagues have conducted research framed by the concept of communities of practice (CoP) and its underlying theory of social learning. This keynote will explore how coaches and sport organisations can benefit from the scaling up of this concept to the level of the landscape of practice (LoP), which is defined as the conglomerate of CoPs and networks that make up the knowledge of a profession. Examples from applied research with coaches, parasport coaches, and sport organisations will illustrate this landscape approach and how it can increase learning capability. The latest developments of the Value Creation Framework will be revealed along with how it can be used to leverage social learning and as an instrument to measure learning.


After dinner speaker


In conversation with Professor Robyn Jones

Professor Robyn Jones will discuss his new book – ‘Studies in Sports Coaching’ which will be published by Cambridge Scholars later this year.

About the book

To realise the value of this book, it is necessary to ask yourself ‘what do I think sports coaching is really about?’ That is, if you believe coaching to be unproblematic with messages clearly received as intended, this book is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you consider coaching messy and contested, in addition to humorous and self-actualising, then this book is for you. Through the selected writings of Professor Robyn L. Jones, a world leading coaching scholar and coach educator, the text details the study of coaching from its initial deconstruction as a socio-pedagogic activity, to its subsequent reconstruction in terms of how it can be improved. It is also the first book to provide a distinct theorisation of coaching. Consequently, it marks a ground breaking attempt to clear some of the conceptual fog that remains around the activity, and to claim back for coaching some of the definitional rights conceded to other disciplines. 

Author bio

Robyn L. Jones is a Professor at the Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences, Cardiff Metropolitan University, UK, and a Visiting Professor (II) at the University of South East Norway, Bø, Norway. He has (co) published in excess of 75 peer reviewed articles, 40 book chapters and 13 books on sports coaching and pedagogy; the latter include ‘Sports coaching cultures’, ‘The sports coach as educator’ and ‘A sociology of sports coaching’. Robyn is also the General Editor of the Taylor & Francis journal Sports Coaching Review. During the past 15 years, he has served as a coaching consultant for numerous bodies including the Football Association (FA), the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) and High Performance Sport New Zealand on their renowned ‘Coach Accelerator Programme’. Being both a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS), Robyn is considered a leading international figure in both coaching scholarship and coach education.


Accommodation and dinner


You will need to book your own accommodation for this event.  We recommend any of the following options:     

Conference dinner

Wednesday 4 September  

£40 per person    
Worcestershire County Cricket Club, New Road

Following a welcome drink on the terrace overlooking the ground, delegates will have the opportunity to enjoy a delightful 3-course meal with refreshments while enjoying the venue’s iconic view, its historic ambience and a discussion with after dinner speaker, Professor Robyn Jones, who will talk about his new book 'Studies in Sports Coaching'.  


Sponsorship & Promotional Opportunities

On behalf of the School of Sport and Exercise Science, University of Worcester, I have great pleasure in inviting you to sponsor the 5th Cluster for Research into Coaching (CRiC) International Coaching Conference run in conjunction with Sports Coaching Review, Manchester Metropolitan University and Cardiff Metropolitan University. CRiC has become known as the leading research group in the UK concerned with the sociology, pedagogy, history and ethics of sports coaching.

Over the course of two days, over a hundred sports coaches, national governing body representatives and academics will gather to discuss the most contemporary issues in sports coaching. The conference will be held at the award-winning University Arena, Severn Campus, University of Worcester from the 4th-5th September 2019.

The programme features four leading keynote speakers, seven cutting-edge Extended Seminars and over forty oral presentations. The keynote speakers are World Class - Professor John Lyle (Leeds Beckett University), Dr Diane Culver (University of Ottawa), Dr Brian Gearity (University of Denver) and Dr Justine Allen (University of Stirling). The conference will also feature an exclusive seminar delivered by Regional Coach Developers and Mentors from the Football Association, an opportunity to discuss Professor Robyn Jones’ new book to be published in the summer 2019 and a stunning Gala Dinner at Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

The conference will attract an array of leading UK and international coaches and scholars in the field. This fifth international conference will provide an invaluable platform from which to discuss some of the most important and contemporary debates in the field of sports coaching. Clustered around four central themes, the conference will prove an invaluable opportunity to engage with cutting edge research from some of the leading researchers in sports coaching.

• The themes for this conference comprise:

• The role, value and professional learning of coach developers

• The multidisciplinary considerations of decision making in coaching

• Inclusive coaching practice, policy and education

• Contemporary debates in sports coaching practice



A copy of the CRiC Sponsorship & Exhibition Booklet is now available.

Please email if you have any further queries. 


Seminar Streams

Think Aloud and sports coaching


Led by: Dr Amy Whitehead

With: Dr Gus Ryrie and Laura Swettenham

The seminar stream ‘Think Aloud and Sports Coaching’ aims to bring together previous research, which has adopted Think aloud protocol to understand athlete cognition, and coach education. The use of Think Aloud involves an athlete, coach or individual verbalising his or her thoughts during the delivery of a task, which is recorded. This method has been used previously to understand how people solve problems and attend to different types of information. Within sport it has been used to understand how an athlete makes decisions and more recently within coaching to help aid reflection. 


Inclusive martial arts coaching



Led by: Dr George Jennings

With: Simon Dodd, Lyn Jehu, Dr Loreozo Perdini, Kirsty Stewart and Gabriele Aimini 

The broad range of disciplines known as the “martial arts” provide a fertile ground for exploring coaching and pedagogy. From Japanese Judo to Indian Kalarippayattu, and from Italian socialist popular boxing (boxe popolare) and Mexican Xilam, these styles reflect and adapt to a range of cultures and philosophies in which we can theorise about teaching and learning. This seminar on “Inclusive Martial Arts Coaching” explores the Theory of Shared Cultivation outline by George Jennings (2010) to illustrate how martial arts can operate within inclusive, supportive and community-based pedagogies in which the individual students, the teachers, the school and the art themselves are continually cultivated over time. Using a range of international case studies from practitioner-researchers and experienced instructors based in the UK (Simon Dodd) and Italy (Lorenzo Pedrini), and those with years practising in Japan (Lyn Jehu) and Mexico (George Jennings), we offer empirical and experiential examples of how a theory can be tested and expanded using concepts local to specific pedagogical settings. 


Developing a multi-/inter-disciplinary framework to explore coaching practice and coach learning and development using critical realism




Led by: Dr Julian North

With: Bob Muir

In 2017, the seminar stream leader published a research monograph on the development of a multi-/inter-disciplinary framework to explore coaching practice using critical realism (North, 2017).  This was a very philosophical/‘academic’ work that attempted to provide secure foundations for a new approach to researching and exploring coaching practice, effective coaching, and coach learning and development.  However, in foregrounding this foundational work, the monograph conceals its very practically focused origins and subsequent application.

This seminar will attempt to do a number of things: (1) show how the development and  utilisation of a critical realist approach to sport coaching emerged from a very practical set of problems encountered by the first author in his role of Head of Research at Sports Coach UK (now UK Coaching) in the period 2003 to 2010 (2) highlight the extent of the practical work undertaken using critical realism in sport coaching (3) provide an overview of how critical realism has been used to explore coaching practice through an embedded relational emergent approach using a number of case study examples (4) provide an overview of how critical realism has been used underpin an approach to coach learning and development, building on the embedded, relational emergent approach, again using a number of case studies (5) show the links between a critical realist approach, and the evaluation methodology, realist evaluation, which has been used to assess a number of coach development and education interventions (6) offer some concluding remarks about where we are with a critical realist position, and where it might go to.

Concussion in sports coaching and physical education: Issues of attitudes, knowledge and informed consent


Led by: Dr Adam White

With: Dr Rachael Bullingham, John Batten and Professor Eric Anderson

The issue of contact rugby within schools’ physical education has garnered widespread media, social and academic attention over the last three-years. The Sport Collision Injury Collective have raised concerns about: (a) The high and serious risk of injury, (b) the lack of training and provision within the school context, (c) contact sport most-often being compulsory, thus lacking informed consent, (d) the lack of attention paid to the rights of the child.

In this seminar, four talks will attend to various issues surrounding the call to ban tackling in schools’ physical education, focusing on why contact rugby is a particularly dangerous activity for young people in its current form. First, based upon the data of over 100 primary schools, the progressive player-development pathway that is age grade rugby will be contested given that it is not adhered to in the school environment and that teachers are lacking training in how to deliver age-grade rugby. Second, utilising empirical evidence from c.30 physical education teachers, Dr Rachael Bullingham will argue that PE teachers are lacking both knowledge and training for both rugby and concussion. As such, alternative non-contact codes of the game should be utilised in the secondary PE curriculum. Third, based upon a sample size of 9% of secondary school students, evidence will be presented to show that rugby union is compulsory in most secondary schools, despite being identified as the highest-risk activity delivered in the PE curriculum. As such, Dr Adam White will argue that due to a lack of informed consent that the risks associated with contact rugby is unacceptable for children. Finally, Professor Eric Anderson will argue that as concussion can lead to structural damage to the brain, which is evident through an array of long-term neurodegenerative conditions, sports with high-rates of concussion that do not outline these risks should be categorised as child abuse.



Care in Coaching


Led by: Dr Colum Cronin

With: Dr Fieke Rongen

UK Sport have recently advocated for a more holistic and ’Gold Standard’ approach to care in sport (Grey-Thompson, 2017). This call has been precipitated by many high profile examples of abuse in sport across international contexts. Indeed, issues such as bullying, physical, sexual and verbal abuse are all too prevalent (Raakman, et al., 2010). Additionally, researchers are increasingly noticing that many athletes and coaches suffer from poor mental health care (Bentzen, et al., 2015; Gouttebarge, et al., 2017). Accordingly, how organisations care for those involved in sport is an essential topic for anyone working in sport.

Unfortunately, examples of good care are not widely disseminated. Indeed, from a feminist sociological perspective care is often taken for granted and undervalued (Noddings, 2013). This is not to say that coaches do not care. Rather it is posited that when they do, it is rarely explicitly modelled or rewarded in a culture that is often hyper-competitive. For example, many coaches will have supportive conversations with athletes off the field of play in coffee shops, hotels and on transport to games (Cronin & Armour, 2018). These activities are largely hidden from view and thus, we do not have many accounts of how coaches and support staff care for athletes.

Accordingly, as part of this interactive seminar, delegates will be introduced to care theory and a range of case study examples of care in sport coaching. Dr Cronin will utilise examples from athletics and basketball while Dr Rongen will provide evidence from youth football. These examples will be analysed using care theory and will be of interest to both practitioners and researchers. Beyond this, the seminar will also involve delegates by critically questioning how coaches should exercise their duty of care. Specifically, delegates will explore how organisations should manage the tension between caring for athletes and caring about sport performance. In doing so, delegates will be able to analyse caring practices within their own contexts but also question the relevance of care theory within sport contexts.


Constraints-based methodologies in sports coaching


Led by: Dr Will Roberts

With: Professor Keith Davids, Martyn Rothwell and Daniel Newcombe

The seminar will examine the socio-cultural constraints which dominate existing, traditional forms of life in many high-performance sports organisations. These models often favour early specialisation and many hours spent in low-intensity, deliberate practice regimes which are not inherently enjoyable, nor particularly successful. There have been calls for these outdated systems to be replaced by new models of coaching, teaching and sport science support (Ross, Gupta & Sanders, 2018). The presentations in this stream suggest how implementing contemporary models of athlete development and preparation for performance could benefit from an ecological dynamics theoretical rationale, framed on athlete-environment interactions. In some high-performance sport organisations, this is challenging due to 'system capture', evidenced by the resistance to change in many practitioners, administrators, managers and even associated parents or care-givers (Rothwell, Davids & Stone, 2018).

This collaborative seminar stream begins with Professor Keith Davids outlining key tenets of Ecological Dynamics, the underpinning theoretical foundations for a Constraint-Led Approach. For the last 25 years, a constraints-based framework has helped to inform the way that sport scientists and coaches seek to understand performance, learning design, and the development of expertise and talent in sport. This seminar strand discusses some of the cultural and socio-historical constraints on the process of building learning environments in which a Constraints-Led Approach can be used (Renshaw, Davids, Newcombe & Roberts, 2019). With reflections from Martyn Rothwell on his work on models of coaching and talent development in sport, using Wittgenstein's (1953) concept of forms of life, and Danny Newcombe on his doctoral work relating to Environment Design Principles (EDP), this seminar brings a body of work together for delegates to explore the CLA in their practice. Will Roberts will contribute by facilitating the seminar strand as well as offering insights into player development in professional football, focussing on the role that a well-designed environment can play in the development and care for young players.


Challenging ableism: Implications for coaches of disabled athlete


Led by: Dr James Brighton   

With: Rebecca Foster and Alex Giles

There is a paucity of research that explores the experiences of coaches of disabled athletes. Resultantly, there is little guidance for coaches to draw upon to help reflect on and develop their practices. Furthermore, research that has addressed coaching disabled athletes has tended to focus on biomechanical and physiological functionality of the athlete without due consideration of how disability is understood or experienced and the influence this has on coach-athlete relationships. This seminar therefore seeks to explore how coaches of disabled athletes may critically reflect on the social knowledge that informs their practices.

Firstly, how disability is conceptualised is considered. Secondly, how these understandings construct tacit and ableist knowledge of disability that inform coaching practices amongst SCI injured and deaf athletes are questioned. Thirdly, the barriers facing disabled coaches are revealed. Finally, delegates will be presented some real world dilemmas that are aimed to facilitate critical reflection of coaching practices. In doing so, we appeal to delegates to collaboratively develop guidelines to develop more inclusive, informed, reciprocal and empowering approaches to coaching disabled athletes. 


Extended Seminar 

Contemporary Issues in Grassroots Football Coaching

This extended seminar explores the independent study projects of four Football Association staff completing their MSc Sports Coaching degrees at the University of Worcester.  The seminar covers a range of the most contemporary issues facing grassroots football coaches in the UK and we consider how the projects might influence the future of the industry.


Keith Webb

Regional Coach Development Manager, Football Association

The grassroots coach socialization: What influences the beliefs, behaviour and perspectives of the novice coach?



Jack Walton

Regional Coach Development Manager, Football Association

‘Adolescent males’ perceptions of competitive grassroots football



Darren Moss

Regional Coach Mentor Officer, Football Association

Rapport to reflection via relational interactions: Exploring the relational influence of coach mentors on grassroots mentees through the lens of Crossley (2010)



Kevin Green

Regional Coach Mentor Officer, Football Association

Exploring perceptions and experiences of CPD for grassroots football coaches