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Res Q Exerc Sport. 2013 Jun;84(2):263-72.

Do coaches orchestrate? The working practices of elite Portuguese coaches.

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  • 1Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cyncoed Campus, Cyncoed Road, Cardiff, CF23 6XD, United Kingdom.



Although the concept of orchestration has resonated well with coaches and students of coaching, it remains quite an immature theorization lacking empirical evidence. Consequently, the purpose of this study was to explore the practice of expert Portuguese coaches from the perspective of orchestration. The specific objectives related to examining if and how coaches manipulate contexts and relationships toward desired ends, if and how they steer and/or stage-manage events, and precisely what informs their actions.


Data were gathered through a series of semi-structured interviews with 5 top-level Portuguese coaches from a variety of sports. The coaches were selected through purposive sampling. The interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim so that an accurate record of the data gathered was obtained. The data were subject to both inductive and deductive examination through a process of thematic analysis.


The categorical themes resulting from the process of data analysis included (a) the need amongst the coaches "for stakeholder buy-in," (b) "generating an illusion of empowerment" among both staff and athletes to ensure compliance, (c) "scaffolding the context to create a controlled instability" and (d) "detailed noticing to inform action."


The coaches featured in this study were found to carefully and strategically consider their actions and behaviors; particularly concerning the generation of others' compliance and respect. Consequently, in giving further credence to the notions of power, social obligation, and the flexible scaffolding of learning, the findings support the notion that the concept of orchestration deserves further exploration and development in order to better understand the coach's role.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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