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In the field of learning theories associated with coach education, there exists an understanding that the use of informal learning has a greater impact and importance on the development of coaching practice than that of formal coach education (10, 17, 21). Many National Governing Bodies (NGBs), sports providers, and sports clubs have increasingly turned to the use of mentoring as a learning and support strategy for their coaches. There is now much literature supporting the positive effects that mentoring programmes can have on those mentored (2, 8, 33). However, there is to date relatively little literature concerning the effect that the mentoring programmes may have on the mentors themselves.
This study presents data accrued from a collaborative mentoring project developed by the author and Active Sussex, one of the 45 County Sports Partnerships (CSP) in England that act as part of the Sport England delivery system. The key findings from the study are threefold and suggest that 1) formalised mentoring programmes can benefit both the mentee and mentor through shared experience and problem solving; 2) that developing communities of learning for the mentors helps support and contextualise problems with others in similar positions and facilitates time and space to maximise learning through social interaction; and 3) that working together not only helps the coaching practice of the mentors, but likewise can also help with an increase in their professional profile and differences in how external agencies viewed their practice and perceptions of them as ‘experts’ – because of their involvement in the scheme.