Elite coaching and the technocratic engineer: Thanking the boys at Microsoft!

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The primary purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth understanding of the manner in which surveillance technologies have become readily appropriated and utilised by elite Rugby Union coaches. It is conceded that positions adopted by populist writings commonly categorise the act of coaching as an educational activity that harnesses holistic intentions. Through reflecting upon semi-structured interviews with players located at an Aviva Premiership Rugby Union Club, we provide insight into an elite sporting institution that more accurately depicts coaching as a technocratic activity. The resultant analysis is critical in its review of surveillance mechanisms embedded in institutional practice, extending to the sports coaching setting, which explicate sinister rather than pastoral motives to enforce a disciplinary power that enhances the quantification
of athletic performance. The article concludes by emphasising the impact of such practices upon establishing a sense of trust and the construction of self autonomous to the sporting domain. We argue that the emerging and steadfast acceptance of technology in the elite coaching environment is threatening to circumvent the learning potential of players by merely viewing
them as functionaries. In adopting this position, we tentatively suggest that future research seeking to inform the practice of coaching and coach education should continue to pursue this critical dialogue to question whether, and to what extent, an overreliance on technology is becoming perceived as the ‘gold standard’ of professional practice amongst the coaching fraternity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSport, Education and Society
Early online date22 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Coaching
  • Pedagogy
  • Discipline
  • Power
  • Technology
  • Surveillance


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