‘Always picking country over club’: a creative non-fiction story of an international coach–athlete–coach triad

O’Malley, Lorraine, Winter, Stacy and Holder, Tim (2017) ‘Always picking country over club’: a creative non-fiction story of an international coach–athlete–coach triad. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health . pp. 1-15. ISSN 2159-676X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2159676X.2017.1367716


This paper explores coaches and athlete experiences of being part of a triadic coach–athlete–coach relationship spanning across two sporting organisations, namely a women’s international rugby union and premiership club. An interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach and a creative non-fiction (CNF) story representation is utilised to appropriately capture this triads lived experiences. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each individual in the coach–athlete–coach triad. Interpretation of personal experiences occurred first at an individual level and then across the triad.
To show the complexity of the organisational impact evident from the interviews, a CNF story on the triad’s relational experience was developed. A contribution to sport psychology research is made on numerous levels. First, the impact of this exploration is in providing a ‘relational’ focus, showing and then telling the reader of complexities present, within a triadic relationship context. This paper provides an avenue for relational conception in sport psychology that captures the past, present and future interactions of those that occupy sporting relationships. Second, it provides this avenue by interpreting the lived experiences of all relational members, providing an insight into the contextual and organisational factors influencing this sporting relationship. Finally, this papers originality is evident in its approach and representation, combining IPA and CNF to move the theoretical focus beyond replicating the current relationship research in sport.

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