An alternative view of reflective practice: accepting the problem or problematising the norms?

Cushion (2016) proposed the need for coaches and researchers to problematise reflective practice (RP) and to question the underlying beliefs about RP that are frequently taken-for-granted. The author argues that instead of challenging values, beliefs and assumptions, RP may in fact reinforce them. As RP is an activity that utilises cognitive engagement with current coaching perspectives, Cushion (2016) suggests the practitioner may interact with current perspectives in a non-critical manner and subsequently reinforce coaching norms established within the dominant coaching discourse. These discourses are established ways of thinking about coaching and are often normalised vicariously by other coaches and professional bodies. Coaching is therefore socially normalised through the dominant coaching discourses and influenced by individual and collective ideologies.

RP was problematised as a form of surveillance that normalises coach behaviour and practices rather than challenging them. Consequently, there is a need to encourage criticality by problematising current practices and exploring other perspectives. It is essential that coaches are taught to explicitly question their own perspective, biases, values, assumptions and beliefs. This will ensure that current professional practices are challenged and developed rather than normalised and reinforced. By encouraging collective reflection, the dominant coaching discourses may be further reinforced vicariously and through individual surveillance that normalises a coach’s practices through the act of confession. A degree of challenge to individual perspectives may occur during collective reflection. However, the outcome will remain influenced by the individual, group and society ideology alongside the dominant coaching discourse.




Cushion, C. J. (2016). Reflection and reflective practice discourses in coaching: a critical analysis. Sport, education and society, 1-13.