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Language and sporting success explored in innovative workshop

workshopLinguistics experts from the University of Warwick met some of the UK’s top coach developers for a one-day workshop aimed at exploring language use in high-performance sports coaching and discussing ways to apply the latest research to real-life coaching situations.

The Sports Culture and Communication Research Collective, based in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, hosted the workshop to share some of their latest research insights into language use issues and dynamics in elite sports, and to hear from coach developers from UK Coaching, the national body working to develop the quality of coaching across the UK, about communications issues they encounter in their own disciplines.

Dr Kieran File, coordinator of the Sports Culture and Communication Research Collective, said: “We often think of sport as a physical activity and an activity that requires great deal of mental strength. This makes disciplines like physiology and psychology an obvious place for sports practitioners and advisors to turn.

“However, sport at any level is also a social activity - people need to come together and communicate with each other to achieve their sporting tasks. This requires language use and we study the language use choices that sports high performers make.

“We wanted to create a space for coach developers at UK Coaching to engage with our work and to see how a linguist can tackle social dynamic issues in high performance sporting contexts by looking at how people speak and interact with each other.

“Our goal is to now take these insights to practitioners so they can use them to help develop skill in this area.”

Five 45-minute sessions showcased the Collective’s research in the areas of leadership, transition, cohesion and relationship management in high performance sport. The day also include a round-table session to reflect on how research insights could be put into practice, and a tour of Warwick Sport's new Sport and Wellness Hub where the workshop was held.

tourAndy Bradshaw, Coaching Manager at UK Coaching, said: “We look at coaching behaviours on a day-to-day basis and language and linguistics comes into that, so we were really keen to explore this with Kieran and his colleagues.

“One of the things that UK Coaching does is to try and interpret research and make it more accessible for coaches. Engaging with this group will help us better unpick coach behaviour, go a little deeper, and be able to use this research in an applied way in supporting people to understand coaching practice more.

“Whether it’s cohesion or relationships or power, they’re all really important issues in coach development work and we’ll be looking for opportunities to apply some of this work.”

Reflecting on the day, Dr Stephanie Schnurr said: “The engagement we got from the coach developers who attended was fantastic. They jumped into the day, raised really interesting questions and drove the discussion in the workshops. They also shared their experiences working with coaches which helped us to identify new potential issues and contexts to explore. We think there is great potential to work with coach developers in the future.”

19 September 2019


The Sports Culture and Communication Research Collective, based in the Centre for Applied Linguistics, uses language data and to generate insights that help to better understand the issues high performance athletes, coaches and managers have with communication.

The Collective’s research contributes to theory about effective professional communication and building supportive team cultures, but is also used by professional athletes, coaches, managers and high performance sports programmes to help improve awareness and skills in these important areas.

Members involved in the workshop were: Dr Stephanie Schnurr, Solvejg Wolfers, Daniel Clayton, Anastasia Stavridou, and Dr Kieran File.










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