Think aloud: Developing a reflective mentor workforce in sport coaching

Amy Whitehead, Colum Cronin, Brendan Cropley, Zoe Knowles, Angus Ryrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: This study aimed to present novel insights into mentor education within sports coaching by exploring the use of Think Aloud (TA) as a tool to facilitate meaningful reflection within mentor practice. Methods: Using a
longitudinal, collaborative action research design, nine Football Association (FA) mentors took part in a 24-week TA intervention program designed to facilitate their reflective skills through the TA approach. Participants were interviewed
about their experiences of implementing TA post-intervention, with follow-up interviews and a focus group being conducted 12-14-weeks and 20-months post-intervention respectively to explore the retention and developmental
effects. All data were analyzed following an inductive content analysis approach. Results: Initially, the mentors reported perceived improvements to their ability to cope with the mentor role, more effective communication, and adaptations to their approach to mentoring as a result of implementing TA within their practice. At 12-14-weeks post-intervention, the mentors reported that their continued engagement in TA facilitated the deeper questioning of their practice, as well as improved confidence in the role, and further adaptations to their mentoring approach. At 20-months post-intervention, the mentors reported the ongoing adoption of TA, which was thought to have improved their communication and confidence, resulting in them promoting the use of TA to other mentors and coaches. Conclusion: The findings provide support for the use of TA as a mechanism to improve awareness and the development of mentor behaviors. Consequently, our research offers a significant contribution to current knowledge and practice by highlighting the potential of TA to provide transformational, personal and situated learning experiences for mentors.
We therefore encourage future sport coaching mentor programs to adopt TA within their mentor training.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusSubmitted - 31 Mar 2020


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