Coaching placements and incidental learning - how reflection and experiential learning can help bridge the industry skills gap

Philippe Michel Crisp


In the fields of sports coaching and higher education, there are significant implications related to the delivery and effectiveness of work-based learning (WBL), learning styles and occupational competency. Alongside this, similar claims are made throughout the academic and policy literature in both fields about the effectiveness and necessity of improving issues of skill development and employability (see SkillsActive, 2010a; SkillsActive, 2010b; Taylor and Garratt, 2010; Pegg et al., 2012). This paper therefore examines, in the context of the sports coaching industry’s relevant skills gaps, the learning experiences of a level five cohort who undertook supported coaching placements as part of a placement module. Using two focus groups (N=15 and N=13 respectively) the findings demonstrate that it is not only preferential, from the students’ perspective, to engage in WBL but that the coaching placements also helped the students meet many of the wider professional sector’s identified skills gaps. The findings also indicated that it is the student-coaches’ learning through incidental learning (unintentional, yet through the planned placements) that most significantly determined their professional competency.


Formative learning; Employability; Sports Coaching; Experiential Learning; Professionalism; Incidental Learning.

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ISSN: 1759-667X