Disability sports coaching: towards a critical understanding

Brett Smith, Robert Townsend, Christopher J. Cushion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
421 Downloads (Pure)


The growing work that addresses coaching disabled athletes has thus far failed to engage with the field of disability studies, and as a result misses a crucial opportunity to develop a critical understanding of coach learning and practice in disability sport. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to bridge the gap between coaching and disability studies and to review critically the current literature in coaching, in order to problematise some of the assumptions that underpin disability coaching research. Disability studies, and in particular the models of disability, are an important first step in a critical understanding in disability sport coaching. The models of disability provide a lens through which researchers, coach educators and coaches can question how they learn to coach disabled athletes, interrogate knowledge about impairment and disability, and critically evaluate coaching practice. In connecting with disability studies, we hope to help coaches and researchers make sense of how they position disability, and appreciate how coaching knowledge and practice are produced in context. In turn, we feel that such critical understandings have the potential to develop nuanced and sophisticated ways of thinking about, and developing, disability sports coaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-98
JournalSports Coaching Review
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


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