Michel Foucault’s Influence On Knowledge And Power In Sports Coaching

Table of Contents

Power and Knowledge

Power, Foucault & Coach – Athlete Partnership

Power, Foucault & Gender

Knowledge and Discourse

Beliefs or doctrines that are shared by a social group or that form the basis of an economic or political system


This assignment will explore and discuss Michael Foucault. The goal is to learn more about him and his impact on knowledge and coaching. This assignment will also discuss knowledge and influence and gender/feminism in coaching.

Michel Foucault was an French philosopher, historian and literacy critic. Foucault focuses primarily on the relationship of power to knowledge. Foucault didn’t address sport directly, but his theories put it in perspective. His focus on power and knowledge makes his theories relevant to coach and athlete development. Power is not only accepted and valued because it doesn’t say no to us but it also produces pleasures, forms of knowledge, and discourses. It is more than just a negative instance that focuses on repression. He means that power is most effective when it is not being exploited. It helps us to see that ‘power’ doesn’t only exist through denigrating, but also other forms of being and pleasure.

Foucault, Power and the Coach-Athlete Relationship. Foucault defined power as a relation. This means that actions taken by one person can guide or direct others’ actions. Foucault didn’t see power as something that could be done from the top, but as a series or relationships where people interact with each other. Foucault suggests that a coach can effectively dictate to an athlete in a hierarchy-like manner. This is different from the relationship where both the coach and athlete support one another equally. Markula & Pringle (2006) gave a clear understanding of Foucault’s views and how power impacts coaching. Although the coach might have strategies to direct an athlete’s behavior, such as by keeping them on the sidelines, the athlete can still decide how to respond and whether or not they want to continue coaching. The actions taken by an athlete can have a reciprocal effect on the coach’s. The coach might be influenced by the actions of the athlete telling him or her that they are considering quitting. Although the relationship between coach and athlete may not be balanced, it is possible to view them as being within a particular power relation.

Foucault looked at the disciplinary strategies that were used to develop and train athletes. This shows that Foucault analyzed the different coaching strategies and methods of coaches. Sport sciences are a key component of discipline power in sport. Shogan (1999), for instance, discussed how Foucault’s descriptions of techniques for disciplinary power read as a guide for coaches. This highlighted the fact that coaching can be used to guide and discipline athletes today. This type power, which focuses on control and discipline, was used during an exercise which Foucault (1979), referred to as “by means o surveillance”.

Markula & Pringle (2006) have explained Foucault (1972)’s description of disciplinary powers. They state that they are almost identical and that this is how coaches attempt to regulate and control their athletes. Coaches create a plan to help their athlete succeed. This includes different training activities and rigid training schedules. This is a good coaching technique that can be used many times to improve the coach’s ability to develop the athlete. Shogan (1999), described modern discipline as “both a control exercise and a subject matter”.

Power, Foucault, GenderFoucault have had a huge impact on many people, personalities, and characters. But, feminist theorists have widely criticized and developed Foucault’s work. Foucault has been extensively studied and discussed by feminists. But, Foucault seemed to have never received the attention he deserved in terms of feminism or any gender issues. It seems that the book is biased towards females, would create gender issues, and Foucault’s focus on body investment, which it does, would be a sign of power prejudice. But, it’s gender-neutral. It fails to recognize the role of gender in power play has been widely criticized. He was accused of “glossing” over different genders and of not examining the gendered aspects of various disciplinary techniques.

Bartky (1998) claims that he is “blind”. This has reached the point that the gender of the person who is disciplining them determines what techniques and how severe they are allowed to use. Bartky (1998) then asks “Where is a description of the disciplinary processes that engender women’s docile bodies, bodies more docile that the bodies of men?” It implies that there’s no strong evidence to suggest that women are less capable than men of using the same coaching strategies. Bartky’s research is valuable for female coaches in a coaching context. It gives them the opportunity to believe they are equal to their male counterparts. She said that “Women, as men, are subjected many of the disciplinary practices Foucault has described.” He doesn’t see the particular feminine aspects of certain disciplines.” This indicates that while a gender-neutral study has empowerment qualities it fails to recognize the biological and physical differences between men and women.

This example shows that Foucault studies sports coaching. Men coach women most often, but it is not the other way around due to the dominant image of men. Foucault could therefore be seen using his feminist beliefs to promote equality, as though women are equal and not separate but still equal.

Knowledge and Discourse Knowledge is essential and must be considered before power. Knowledge, which is tied to power assumes authority and has the ability make truth. This is the principle that knowledge is power. Coaches who have this knowledge have a lot power. All of this knowledge, once it is applied, then has the effects on coaches.

Martini (2015) claims that knowledge once used as a means of regulating others entails regulation, constraint, and discipline. Foucault (1977), a continuation of this statement, states that “there are no power relations without the correlative knowledge field, nor any know which does not presuppose or constitute simultaneously, power relationships.” Foucault stated that his goal in life was to discover how humans learn about themselves. Foucault considered knowledge discourse and ideological to be a way for athletes and coaches to learn.

IdeologyIn Foucault’s works, ‘discourse’ was a significant link and concept to knowledge. The Marxist-derived term ideology’ also has the same meaning of ‘discourse’. Ideologies have two sides: they are abstract and general. They must be applicable in many different situations. The “racist ideology” is a general way we view race. These general ideas can be applied by individual members to specific situations and consequently in concrete discourses. Teun A. Van Dijk (2013) says that this may lead to a gap between abstract, general ideologies and how people produce, understand, or engage in social practices.

DiscourseAccording Pringle (2007) “Discourse refers to a relatively consistent set ideas that people use for social life and to make sense of their lives.” This can be put in context by saying that discourse is “unwritten rules”, which means it can guide and help social practices, produce and understand (. Sport discourse is an important factor. There are many benefits to discourses, such as the ability to build character and improve health. Pringle added that although these factors are often overlooked, they can lead to a lot of untrues. There are however many instances where this is not true. This means that discourses may act indistinctly and can be difficult for people to comprehend. It’s important to recognize that the discourse that creates the “truth” rugby is a man’s game does not mean that it’s better for women who wish to participate.


  • reubenyoung

    Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.



Reuben Young is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been teaching in the United States for over 10 years, and has written extensively on educational topics. He is also a member of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and has been honored with several awards.

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