Developing learners’ life skills through sport: Perceptions of coaches
AbstractNumerous advantages associated with participation in sporting activities, which include higher grades at school, lower risk-taking behaviours such as substance abuse and healthier psychological profiles, have been identified. Sport coaches are regarded as the most influential individuals in facilitating outcomes such as fair play, respect for others, cooperating and decision-making in learners. In addition, the values and philosophies that coaches hold impact on the values and life skills that learners learn from participating in sporting activities. While it is encouraging that there is growing emphasis on developing life skills through participation in sports and increased research on the role of coaches in designing sports programmes, there is a paucity of research that focuses on personal and social issues that coaches face when trying to develop life skills in learners. The study examined strategies high school coaches use to develop life skills in learners, as well as the social factors that influence or hinder learners‟ development of life skills. A qualitative research methodology using a narrative approach was adopted. A sample of eight high school coaches participated in the study. The study demonstrated that coaches did not employ direct strategies to develop life skills as such, but that it is rather a by-product of coaching sporting activities. It was further noted that perceived negative social challenges actually render positive results in developing life skills, while, what are being perceived as positive attributes, may result in unintended negative consequences to learners and teams. Based on the findings of the research, it is recommended that sport coaches involve learners more actively in the strategic issues of the team development while also spending more time with learners on an individual basis off the field.
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