Volunteer sports coaches as community assets? A realist review of the research evidence

Mark Griffiths, Kathleen Armour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
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It is widely believed that volunteer sports coaches, working in community sports clubs, can make a range of contributions to the social, physical and moral development of individuals, particularly young people. Although there is some existing research on volunteer sport coaches and their role in community engagement, the research base is fragmented and is limited, primarily, to the national contexts of North America and Australia. This paper reports the findings of a systematic analysis of the international research evidence that supports claims for a wider social role for volunteer sports coaches. The analysis suggests that the evidence base for such claims is weak, lacking robustness, rigor, and a clear theoretical foundation. If, therefore, there are growing expectations
about the individual and community benefits that volunteer sports coaches can deliver through sports activities, we argue that it is imperative to understand more about the needs, motivations, and priorities of this large volunteer workforce. This research adds new evidence-based critical insights to the issue of community sport as a form of social engagement, and the role of sports coaches as convenient community assets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-326
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Issue number3
Early online date14 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • volunteer sports coaches
  • realist review
  • community sport
  • social action


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