Shifting Perspectives: Transitioning from coach centred to athlete centred – Challenges faced by a coach and an athlete


  • Jenny McMahon University of Tasmania
  • Chris Zehntner University of Tasmania.


Coaching, athlete centred, transition, disciplinary power, athlete, coach


This paper outlines the voices of a practising coach and also athlete who

reveal their experiences as they transitioned from the coach centred approach to

the athlete centred approach within the Australian swimming culture. Using

narrative accounts, their stories of experience are presented. While the bene!ts

that the athlete centred approach to coaching can have for both athletes and

coaches have been detailed in numerous research investigations, not as much has

been done in relation to challenges faced by the coach and athlete as the

transition occurs from coach centred to athlete centred. Inherent challenges in

the transition phase from coach centred to athlete centred are important to

understand in order to assist coaches and athletes when such a transition occurs.

The athlete and coach in this study revealed a number of challenges. Firstly, the

extent to which dominant cultural ideologies had permeated their thinking and

doing was extensive even though both of them had self-‐determined the

transition. Other issues that arose included disciplinary power and a concern for

the approach being untested in terms of competitive performance. From these

!ndings, the authors make a number of suggestions to better support both

athletes and coaches during the transition from coach to athlete centred.


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