Coaching, Language and Meaning - 'Back to the Rough Ground' of Practical Action
This study is an investigation into matters concerning language, meaning, and understanding in sport coaching. Set in the context of an elite rugby union club, the research serves to reveal how common ways of describing, explaining, and instructing sport performance created confusions in language; that is, about the nature of meaning and the implications this had on perceived notions of player understanding. A principal argument, here, is that the coaches’ efforts towards attaining an ideal language – in which the ‘rules’ for the use of a given expression were often sought on absolute grounds – were not only fundamentally unrealistic but served to limit the criteria on which meaningful action was based. Drawing on the later writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the text offers to shed light on the assumptions that fuelled these problematic uses of language, as a means to remove the misunderstandings that caused them in the first place. The insights derived from the investigation are then extended to help clarify and offer ways forward for coaching scholarship and practice.
- School of Sport and Health Sciences