An investigation of the practice activities and coaching behaviors of professional top-level youth soccer coaches


Corresponding author: Mark Partington, BSc (Hons), MSc, PGCE, Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP, UK. Tel: +44 169 5584880, Email:


The aim of this study was to investigate the coaching behaviors of elite English youth soccer coaches in different practice settings and gain insight into the coaches’ cognitive processes underpinning these behaviors. The practice setting was split into two types of activities, “training form” and “playing form,” and behavioral data were collected using a modified version of the Coach Analysis and Intervention System. Interpretive interview data were triangulated with the behavioral data to ensure that both the “what” and the “why” of the coaches’ behavior and practice were considered. The results showed the coaches using more “training form” activities than “playing form,” and using high levels of prescriptive instruction, regardless of practice type, in contrast to a stated desire to “developing the whole player,” creating “decision makers,” and being a “facilitator of knowledge creation.” The interviews revealed that the coaches had a low self-awareness about their behavior, with an epistemological gap identified between understanding and practice, with statements of intent not being matched by knowledge and action.