Social inclusion through sport? Pedagogical perspectives of Dutch youth sport coaches

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The impact of organized youth sport on youth development depends on various conditions in the pedagogical climate, such as how sport is delivered by youth sport coaches. While this is broadly acknowledged and provides a basis to improve youth sport and its developmental outcomes, little is known about the pedagogical perspectives of youth coaches on their practice. This study uses semi-structured interviews with 32 youth sport coaches in diverse youth sport contexts in the Netherlands. Reflexive data analysis is employed to garner insights into coaches’ role perceptions, coaching goals, and underlying values. The findings show that while youth coaches focus on sport-centered activities, many foreground non-sport dimensions such as life mentoring and working towards social inclusion as critical elements of their work, reflected in five pedagogically-oriented goals: discipline, autonomy, resilience, social abilities, and aspirations. Underlying these goals are pedagogical values such as building and maintaining caring relationships with participants. These goals and values echo scientific literature on pedagogical sport climate conditions (e.g. positive youth development), and challenge notions of youth sport as a performance-oriented and uncaring setting. The results contribute to existing knowledge about youth coaches’ pedagogical orientations, and inform the development of strategies to stimulate positive sport practices and developmental outcomes for participants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-158
JournalSport, Education and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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