Staffordshire University logo
STORE - Staffordshire Online Repository

‘Coach, or female coach? And does it matter?’: An autoethnography of playing the gendered game over a twenty-year elite swim coaching career

Graham, Louise C and Blackett, Alexander David (2021) ‘Coach, or female coach? And does it matter?’: An autoethnography of playing the gendered game over a twenty-year elite swim coaching career. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. pp. 1-16. ISSN 2159-676X

Swim coach autoethnography - accepted.pdf - AUTHOR'S ACCEPTED Version (default)
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or description

Women are under-represented in high-performance head coach positions throughout global sport. To shed light on why this under-representation exists within UK swimming, an autoethnographic account of the first author’s experiences as a woman who competed and coached in high-performance swimming over a thirty-year career is presented. Critical reflexive conversations with the second author, coupled with sourcing artefacts such as memories, photographs and emails inspired four evocative personal stories that chart the voyage of: 1) a child entering and aspiring in the sport, 2) the transition from a retired female athlete to novice coach; 3) progression in becoming an international coach, and; 4) reaching the pinnacle of a coaching career and then beginning a coach tutor role. Accounts of how gender as a relation of power was exercised and navigated during the inauguration and progression as a woman who coached in a patriarchal profession are offered. In the pursuit of winning Olympic medals, an unrecognised double bind was revealed to have been negotiated throughout the entirety of the coach development pathway whereby masculine ideals were uncritically reproduced within the cultural landscape of elite UK swimming. Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital, field and doxa offer analytical insight for how masculine norms were socially reproduced. This double bind is argued as having and continuing to impede women coaches’ progression towards achieving equality within high-performance settings like UK swimming. The study highlights the value of acknowledging socio-cultural factors in coach education to address gender imbalances at an elite level.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health on 27 August 2021, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bourdieu; capital; evocative; women coach; double bind
Faculty: School of Life Sciences and Education > Sport and Exercise
Depositing User: Alexander BLACKETT
Date Deposited: 03 Sep 2021 15:16
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2023 01:38
Related URLs:

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

DisabledGo Staffordshire University is a recognised   Investor in People. Sustain Staffs
Legal | Freedom of Information | Site Map | Job Vacancies
Staffordshire University, College Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 2DE t: +44 (0)1782 294000