Coaching, a Central Concept in Sport Sciences? Comparative and Differentiated Cultural Investigation into its Evolution and its Current and Future Application

By Jean-François Loudcher

The term and concept of coaching only arrived recently within the sporting field in France. If the former appeared during the 19th century with the meaning of driving a team of horses, the latter came into use in 1950-1960 in a form that was strongly influenced by other cultures, notably American. However, the acceptance of this concept of sports coaching has been largely influenced by the historical context. In particular, the institutional sports training which appeared in the interwar years in France was made up of knowledge and skills which not only limited its development, but also influenced its future uptake.
Thus the historical comparison of coaching in the United Kingdom and France leads us to reflect on the nature of this sports training. It allows us to clarify some of the reasons which help to understand the “delay” in the integration of this concept in France. The relationship with “science” in particular has been decisive for these training curricula; it allows us better to apprehend the importance given to a more pragmatic process, which is essential in sports coaching. It therefore requires a praxis that is hard to theorize because it touches many different fields (management, educational sciences, science of training). Certain epistemological difficulties can then be pointed out through a comparative historical and cultural approach. A new conception of the educational dimension of coaching then emerges. Ultimately, this process brings to light quite an original approach which could also be followed in sport sciences in order to question their specific character.


  • coaching
  • sports
  • physical education
  • training
  • management
  • sciences
  • training
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