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The Coaching chain: Reflections of disabled athletes and coaches

This report presents the findings from interviews with 15 disabled athletes from different levels of sport from participation to elite. The research wanted to examine the experiences of participation in sport, the challenges disabled participants face and explore the key factors and circumstances that facilitate participation in sport.

Some of the key message to emerge from the interviews include:

  • Disabled people have a range of options in relation to the settings in which they experience sports coaching. These contexts can change overtime.
  • Disabled people are aware of some coaches lack of confidence and reluctance in relation to working with disabled athletes. Therefore coaches need to recognise this is being noticed by the disabled athletes.
  • Coaches may need a combination of sports specific technical knowledge and/or a good understanding of their athletes to effectively support them when supporting.
  • Disabled athletes value opportunities to share their knowledge about themselves with their coaches.
  • Open minded, willing and resourceful coaches were seen valuable coaches.
  • Personality was seen as an important feature of a good coach.
  • Athletes who had competed at a higher level had more informed opinions about what makes a good coach.

The research was carried out by Hayley Fitzgerald at Leeds Metropolitan University.

Find out more about coaching for disabled people