An expert strength and conditioning coach's practical knowledge
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In attempting to precisely define the professional knowledge base for the strength and conditioning coaching profession and to gain a better understanding of strength and conditioning coaches’ work, the purpose of this study was to analyze and report the content of practical knowledge used by an expert strength and conditioning coach. The study followed a qualitative case study research design. The participating expert coach met the following requirements: minimum 10 years of coaching experience, head strength and conditioning coach position at collegiate level, coaching at an NCAA Division I institution, possessing CSCS or SCCC designation, and formal recognition on coaching achievement from a professional organization. Data collection included observation, interviewing, and document analysis. After performing a thorough data analysis, ten major knowledge categories emerged, which were separated into two main clusters. The participant possessed a form of practical knowledge that was foundational in his work to carry out strength and conditioning programs. Entitled as Foundational Practical Knowledge, this cluster contained six categories, such as knowledge of coaching strength and conditioning, facility and equipment, exercises and techniques, injuries, athletes, and planning. The second type of practical knowledge, named as Applied Practical Knowledge, was based on the knowledge categories of the Foundational Practical Knowledge cluster, and was mainly used in action. This knowledge cluster included knowledge of plan modification, supervision, coaching pedagogical strategies, and professional improvement. The findings of this study indicated that the examined expert strength and conditioning coach’s practical knowledge was just partly based on his Foundational Disciplinary Knowledge, which was attained from formal education. Major parts of his practical knowledge were obtained from experience, real-life practices, or other professionals. Other parts, such as categories in the Applied Practical Knowledge cluster, were pedagogy related knowledge types. It was recognized that formal coaching educational programs often do not focus on these inevitably important knowledge needs. The present study suggests including pedagogy courses in coaching educational programs and preparing prospective coaches for the pedagogical demands of this profession.