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Title: The application of behaviour analysis to the coaching of Academy football players : towards a technology of elite player development
Author: Holt, Jonathan Edward
ISNI:       0000 0004 2685 2746
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2009
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Many years of deliberate practice are required for the attainment of expertise (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer, 1993; Bloom, 1985), yet guidance for coaches responsible for the provision of practice to develop young sporting talent is sparse (Martindale, Collins & Daubney, 2005), The result is a coaching process directed by intuition and tradition rather than science informed by empirical findings (Williams & Hodges, 2005). This research examined the application of behaviour analysis, a science of behaviour to the coaching of boys at an English professional football club academy. Three single subject experiments were conducted (multiple baseline and alternating treatment designs) that assessed the effects of coaching interventions on the quality of practice, performance and learning of football technique and the potential for the frequent measurement of performance during coaching to guide this talent development process. Experiment 1 assessed the impact of a fluency building practice programme with self-monitoring and goal setting on the learning of non-dominant foot technique. Findings showed that practice with self-monitoring and charting made a noticeable improvement to passing frequency, which for some players generalised to the game with increased and improved non-dominant foot passing. Fluency practice had limited effect on non-dominant foot turns and no increase in aerial control in the game. It was hypothesised that the lack of a significant consequence for goal attainment limited the development of fluent turning and juggling technique and the lack of generalisation to the game. Experiment 2 compared the effects of goal setting alone, an individual contingency and a group contingency on learning football ‘juggling’ sequences and effort in practice. Results showed that the individual contingency (a signed player photograph) and the group contingency (extra game time) improved technical learning, the group contingency promoted greater effort in practice but goal setting alone did not promote significant learning or practice effort. Experiment 3 measured performance and learning in a group technical practice. Peer-assessed feedback, goal setting and a group contingency improved awareness, passing and first touch performance in practice which, for most players was maintained when the intervention was removed. Findings also showed that players were willing and able to assess their peers to collect accurate and reliable outcome data on performance to enhance the coaching process. Overall, the findings indicated that the coaching and measurement procedures provided valuable and reliable outcome data on all players and served to increase player performance and satisfaction during practice. Implications for the generation of performance standards for core practice tasks and the development of repeatable and measurable systems (a technology) of elite player identification, coaching and development were made.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available