Examining the roles and consequent decision-making processes of high-level strength and conditioning coaches

Paul Downes*, Dave Collins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research into sports coaches has identified the valuable role they play concerning social support provided to athletes together with their contribution to social and cultural interactions within both the participation and performance domains. The purpose of the present study was to qualitatively extract and examine the knowledge and on-task cognitions of high-level coaches (HLCs) within strength and conditioning (S and C). Applied cognitive task analysis (ACTA) was used to examine ten HLCs, each purposefully sampled to reflect over eight years of work in full time environments. The analysis of responses demonstrated HLCs engage in a pattern of innovative and diverse thinking, together with adaptability and multilevel planning, designed to promote an inclusive approach from performers, coaches and management. Commonality was demonstrated within the decision making of HLCs during the design of training programs. Communication was another important consideration when connecting with athletes, observing athletes, speaking to the head coach and integrating their approach with others. A confident, flexible approach to adapting to situational demands was evident and supported by the ability to recall and select from a wide range of previously learnt and tested strategies. Evidence is offered for the importance of interpersonal and social factors in HLCs’ relationships with athletes and coaches. The incorporation of strategies to support versatile, dynamic decision making within future S and C coach development materials will support more impactful performances by coaches at all stages of the coaching process.

Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2021


  • ACTA
  • connections
  • contextual coaching
  • psychosocial


Dive into the research topics of 'Examining the roles and consequent decision-making processes of high-level strength and conditioning coaches'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this