Professional Judgement and Decision Making in Elite Golf Coaching: Exploring and applying key principles’

Adams, Daniel (2019) Professional Judgement and Decision Making in Elite Golf Coaching: Exploring and applying key principles’. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Although the professional training programme for golf coaches in the UK provides education and support in a number of areas, Professional Judgement and Decision Making (PJDM) has been largely overlooked to date. The implication of the
lack of training or support in PJDM is that coaches have to rely primarily on a trial and error approach for improving the decision-making skills that are extremely important to their golfers; especially those who are competing for their professional
livelihoods. To further my own practice and generate insight for others, this thesis aimed to provide: a) a broad overview of the nature and parameters of PJDM in golf coaching, b) insight on the PJDM of elite-level golf coaches in home-based coaching sessions, and c) a tool that could support the application of PJDM principles in a tournament support context. To achieve this, a survey was firstly designed around specific PJDM principles (e.g., issue conceptualisation, nature of the goal, nature of the relationship, evaluation of effectiveness) and then completed by golf coaches across multiple performance levels (e.g., club, county, national/international and tour level). Results revealed that, to effectively deliver their intentions for impact, coaches need to: 1) recognise and manage their players’ tendency towards a short term outlook; 2) recognise and manage their players’ relative power in the coaching relationship, and 3) continually framework against the players’ longer term objectives to sell the message. As such, an observation and interview-based study was then undertaken to identify how coaches might effectively deliver their session intentions in the face of the challenges that were discovered following the survey. From the analysis, it was found that coaches worked to achieve their intentions by delivering: 1) chronic effects (i.e., coherent planning, coherent conversations and coherent expectations); 2) acute effects (i.e., intellectual insight and kinaesthetic insight); and 3) emotion-focused regulatory effects (i.e. encouraging the moment and disrupting the moment). Finally, it was also found that coaches used time and space as a supporting mechanism when naturalistic decisions were required to be made. Reflecting the fact that many elite players receive much coaching support on the road, and my own interest in tour level golf, my focus in the final part of the thesis shifted to how chronic, acute and regulatory effects could be delivered in the unique environment of tournament golf through a ‘tournament support planner’. This self-designed planner was subsequently developed and validated within an action-research study. Overall, this thesis has presented an insight into the broad nature and parameters of golf coach PJDM, identified specific principles that help elite golf coaches to successfully land their decisions with players, and provide a tournament support planner to assist in successfully landing coaching decisions at tournaments. This thesis is a meaningful catalyst for the awareness and future development of golf
coach PJDM; a critical but significantly underdeveloped area of my own and others’ golf coaching.

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