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PE and Sports Coach at the Top of His Game

Posted: 28th April 2020

Programme Leader of PE and Sports Coaching at the University Centre Doncaster is at the top of his game after receiving his PhD.

Pete Holmes (48), based in The Hub at Doncaster College and University Centre, completed his PhD investigating elite coach development in professional rugby league through Leeds Beckett University in 2018.

A PhD is a postgraduate doctoral degree, awarded to students who complete an original thesis offering a significant new contribution to knowledge in their subject. PhD qualifications are available in all subjects and are normally the highest level of academic degree a person can achieve.

Pete was inspired to take his studies one-step higher after enjoying the research aspect of his MSc in sport science a number of years ago. Having a sport background in rugby league and an academic interest in coaching, he decided to combine these for the focus of his PhD research. Pete also works as a Senior Coach Developer with the Rugby Football League (RFL) supporting local coaches in their development.

To ensure his research had real value, Pete approached the RFL at the start of the project to discuss potential research ideas to ensure it would bring value to the sport. The study looked at the lifelong development of six Head Coaches in Super League, including some well-known coaches, identifying a vast array of factors that helped to shape them as coaches. Pete found that coaches all have their individual way of coaching and Pete’s study was driven by the desire to unpick how coaches became the type of coach they were. From this research, Pete had his first journal publication from the Sport, Education & Society journal, a respected sport sociology-based journal, alongside his two world leading supervisors, Professor Richard Light and Professor Andrew Sparkes.

One of the coaches involved in Pete’s study, Richard Agar (Head Coach at Leeds Rhinos) said, “I’ve always been keen to take up any opportunity that comes my way to develop myself as a person and as a coach, so when Pete asked if I’d be involved, it was a no-brainer really. The discussions we had helped me to understand why I coach the way I do and how each of the experiences I’ve had in my life have all played their part in shaping me as a coach. I’d encourage all coaches of all sports to get involved in research like this – as well as aiding the research, there’s plenty coaches can get out of it as well.”

Pete said, “I worked with various Super League & international rugby coaches for my study, some of whom have won Super League Championships & Challenge Cups in Wembley cup finals. It was a fantastic experience.”

Pete believes this qualification has helped his teaching role in various ways including; understanding and supporting students through the highs and lows of their studies, drawing on elements of research methods to aid students, helping students to see the real-world value of research in the world of sport & coaching and also developing links for students in terms of work experience and research opportunities within professional rugby.

Pete continued, “It was a really long and tough journey with many ups and downs. It opened various doors for me, I learnt so much and it has grown my desire to continue researching and publishing findings. My graduation day was amazing – sharing it with family and my children was fantastic. I would encourage existing undergraduate students to base their dissertations on subjects that really interest them and recent graduates to explore the research routes available to them in their professional careers.”

 Anyone looking to study PE and Sports Coaching at Doncaster University Centre can visit this page for more information https://www.don.ac.uk/universitycentre/undergraduate/