A1 Journal article (refereed)
Hobby, career or vocation? Meanings in sports coaching and their implications for recruitment and retention of coaches (2022)

Ronkainen, N. J., Ryba, T. V., McDougall, M., Tod, D., & Tikkanen, O. (2022). Hobby, career or vocation? Meanings in sports coaching and their implications for recruitment and retention of coaches. Managing Sport and Leisure, 27(4), 381-396. https://doi.org/10.1080/23750472.2020.1803108

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsRonkainen, Noora J.; Ryba, Tatiana V.; McDougall, Michael; Tod, David; Tikkanen, Olli

Journal or seriesManaging Sport and Leisure



Publication year2022

Publication date06/08/2020


Issue number4

Pages range381-396


Publication countryUnited Kingdom

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/71404

Publication is parallel publishedhttp://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13403/


Rationale/Purpose: Traditional European sports clubs are facing increasing pressures to professionalise their services, while also encountering difficulties in the recruitment and retention of the coaching workforce. We used the concept of meaningful work to explore why coaching is worthwhile to coaches and how they have responded to the changes in the structural and narrative context of their work.

Methodology: Drawing on narrative inquiry, we explored the various meanings and justifications that athletics (track and field) coaches assign to coaching in Finland and England. Twenty-three coaches (8 women, 15 men) aged 22–86 participated in narrative interviews that were analysed using thematic narrative analysis.

Findings: The younger coaches mainly constructed coaching as a hobby and more often placed value on personal benefits, whereas many older coaches described coaching as a vocation/calling and emphasised causes that transcend the self (e.g. tradition, duty and leaving a legacy).

Practical implications: Understanding the diverse ways in which coaching is meaningful is vital for supporting the recruitment and retention of the coaching workforce in sport clubs.

Research contribution: The study extends understandings of meaningful work in coaching and how coaching is shaped by the broader structural and ideological contexts of the work.

Keywordscoachingcoaches (occupations)voluntarinessvocation (calling)careercareer developmentprofessional developmentmeaningfulnessidentity (mental objects)narrative analysis

Free keywordsvolunteerism; meaningful work; coach identity; career development; narrative

Contributing organizations

Related research datasets

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

Preliminary JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-03-04 at 21:05