Positive Pedagogy for Sport Coaching: Athlete-centred coaching for individual sports (Paperback) book cover

Positive Pedagogy for Sport Coaching

Athlete-centred coaching for individual sports

By Richard Light

© 2017 – Routledge

168 pages

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The concept of positive pedagogy has transformed the way we understand learning and coaching in sport. Presenting examples of positive pedagogy in action, this book is the first to apply its basic principles to individual sports such as swimming, athletics, gymnastics and karate.

Using the game based approach (GBA) (an athlete-centred, inquiry-based method that involves game-like activities), this book demonstrates how positive pedagogy can be successfully employed across a range of sports and levels of performance, while also providing insight into coaches’ experiences of this approach. Divided into three sections that focus on the development, characteristics and applications of positive pedagogy, it fills a gap in coaching literature by extending the latest developments of GBA to activities beyond team sports. It pioneers a way of coaching that is both efficient in improving performance and effective in promoting positive experiences of learning across all ages and abilities.

Positive Pedagogy for Sport Coaching: Athlete-centred coaching for individual sports is invaluable reading for all sports coaching students as well as any practising coach or physical education teacher looking for inspiration.


'Positive Pedagogy for Sport Coaching presents a highly innovative approach to coaching individual sports. Professor Light effectively draws on a number of literatures, including contemporary learning theory, social theory and positive psychology, in the development and application of pedagogy for this athlete-centred approach. The book’s first two parts ground coaches in the lexicon of positive pedagogy, before providing examples of how it can be used across a range of sports in the final part. It is, in my view, a text that could have a significant impact on coaching practice.' - Professor David Lavallee, University of Stirling, UK

'Richard Light offers an intellectually powerful, persuasive and accessible introduction to a crucial body of ideas that connect learning, game sense and coaching practice under a socio-cultural umbrella, that will help people coaching and working in sport pedagogy rethink their assumptions about learning and coaching. This is an essential resource for anyone who wants to coach from an ‘athlete-centred’ perspective with clear theoretical and empirical support linked to practical ‘how to guidance’. There is comprehensive treatment of learning, questioning and designing coaching environments, that challenge many of the misunderstandings and pseudo-principles common in espoused constructivist approaches to coaching.' - Professor Chris Cushion, Loughborough University, UK

'Richard Light challenges the traditional narrow focus of direct instruction for coaching individual sport or the specific skills required in team sports. The book presents an innovative approach to coaching that is effective in increasing performance at any age or level through positive athlete experiences of practice that also contribute toward personal development and wellbeing. It has a sound theoretical base which is underpinned by a humanistic and holistic philosophy. Moreover, it is grounded in practice to demonstrate the effectiveness of an ongoing conversation between theory and practice. The ideas in this book will support the physical education teacher’s implementation of the strength based approach promoted in the new Australian national HPE curriculum.' - Professor Field Rickards, University of Melbourne, Australia

Table of Contents

Introduction Part I: The Development of Positive Pedagogy 1. Outline of Positive Pedagogy for Coaching and Teaching [with Stephen Harvey] 2. Making Sense of Learning 3. Making Learning Positive Part II: Pedagogical Features of Positive Pedagogy 4. Design and Management of Learning Experiences 5. Questioning for Learning [with Stephen Harvey] 6. An Inquiry-based Approach Part III: Applications Introduction to Part III 7. Developing Skill in Team Games 8. Swimming 9. Croquet [with Jenny Clarke] 10. Running 11. Javelin 12. Kayak Roll [with Chris North] 13. Rock Climbing [with Mohammad Shah Razak] 14. Gymnastics [with Bianca Couto de Aguiar] 15. Karate Concluding Thoughts

About the Author

Richard Light is Professor of Sport Pedagogy in the College of Education, Health and Human Development at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. A prominent figure in research on, and the development of, athlete-centred coaching, his work situates learning and coaching within social and cultural contexts to emphasize the subjective, affective and whole-person nature of experience and learning in sport. His work, which draws on contemporary learning theory, social theory and his experiences of coaching and teaching across a range of cultural settings, has developed into a distinctive approach to sport coaching pedagogy.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SPORTS & RECREATION / Coaching / General