Reconceptualising professional learning through knowing-in-practice: a case study of a coaches high performance centre

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Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Department of Sport, Health Sciences and Social Work, Oxford Brookes


In response to learning development literature that is negative regarding the formal education coaches’ encounter, there has been a conceptual/practical shift towards recognising the coaching workplace as a legitimate site for professional knowledge development. Building upon contemporary studies of learning ‘in situ’, this paper draws upon the theory of practice architectures to provide an innovative language by which to capture the complexity of learning within this context. In doing so, the cultural-discursive, material-economic, and socio-political arrangements of practice are shown to either enable or constrain learning activities. Findings from a 10-month ethnographic study of a high-performance training centre (n= 9 coaches/support staff), highlighted the significant role the macro-structural features of sport, and the inherent ‘learning culture’, played in determining the learning valued within this context. This study draws attention to the challenges a transient coaching workforce, within a dynamic environment, presents to those attempting to foster learning in this context.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages22
JournalSports Coaching Review
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2018


  • workplace learning, knowing-in-practice, Sports coaching, practice architecture, CPD, professional development