From Knowledge to Action: Quality Participation and Coaching Effectiveness in Disability Sport
Limited research attends to the quality of participation in sport for persons with disabilities (i.e., disability sport), or the role of coaches in shaping the quality of athletes’ disability sport experiences. To address these knowledge gaps, this dissertation examined quality participation and coaching effectiveness in disability sport. Guided by the Knowledge to Action framework, the knowledge created in Manuscripts 1-3 contributed to the development of a learning tool for disability sport coaches in Manuscript 4. Manuscript 1 (Chapter 3) explored the meanings that athletes with physical disabilities attribute to their participation in disability sport over time. Two-part life history interviews were conducted with 21 athletes with a physical disability and narratively analyzed. Five distinct narrative types were identified, representing differential developmental trajectories and meanings of participation in disability sport. Manuscript 2 (Chapter 4) examined athletes’ perceptions of effective disability sport coaching throughout development. A subset of the data collected for Manuscript 1 focused on athletes’ experiences with disability sport coaches. These data were separated and thematically analyzed. Two overarching themes reflected patterns in coaches’ knowledge, beliefs, and behaviours related to (a) positive and negative experiences in disability sport, and (b) the context. Manuscript 3 (Chapter 5) investigated how effective (i.e., model) disability sport coaches shape successful programs for athletes with disabilities. A collective case study of six disability sport programs was performed, including document review, mobile interviews, and semi-structured interviews with coaches and athletes. Cases were independently analyzed and compared. The beliefs and vision of each coach corresponded to the implementation of core values that translated into quality experiences for athletes across four layered themes. Manuscript 4 (Chapter 6) produced an evidence-informed learning tool for disability sport coaches. The findings of Manuscripts 1-3 were synthesized alongside other relevant sources of knowledge to identify target behaviours and behavioural determinants. Following stakeholder review, an ethnographic creative nonfiction was crafted to demonstrate and provide information about coach behaviours that facilitate quality experiences for athletes with a disability. Overall, this dissertation contributes toward deepening our understanding of athlete development, quality participation, and coaching effectiveness in disability sport. These findings may be used by researchers and practitioners to create, deliver, and promote quality programs for athletes with a disability.