Dr Robert Townsend

Robert Townsend

Lecturer in Sport Coaching and Pedagogy

Qualifications: BSc (Hons), MSc, PhD

Personal Website:

About Robert

Prior to joining Te Huataki Waiora School of Health at the University of Waikato, I completed my PhD at Loughborough University researching coach learning and development in disability sport. My research interests include disability sport, coaching and coach education with broader interests in social theory and the use and advancement of qualitative methods. In particular, I am interested in critical analyses of the intersection of disability, sport and physical activity.

I am an ECB qualified cricket coach with extensive experience of coaching, until recently working in the England and Wales Cricket Board's disability performance pathway with the national learning disability squad. My current focus is in supporting and developing coaches within and across sport systems. Some examples of my applied work include the development of a disability coaching programme for Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club's community sport programme, and the design, delivery and evaluation of the inCoach workshop - a free, evidence-based coach education clinic for coaches working in disability sport. Most recently, I was invited to join the International Council for Coaching Excellence Para Coaching Working group with other leading academics to develop a strategy for Para sport coaching.

In addition, I regularly serve as a reviewer for a number of international journals such as Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, International Sport Coaching Journal, Sports Coaching Review, The Sociological Review, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, Sociology of Sport Journal, Sport in Society, Psychology of Sport and Exercise, and Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.

Papers Taught

Research Supervised

I am willing to consider the supervision of graduate and postgraduate students interested in working in the fields of sociology, pedagogy and disability studies with sport and sports coaching as the focus.

Research Interests

My research interests lie broadly within a framework of the sociology of sports coaching and the use of qualitative methodologies to understand sports coaching cultures. My theoretical lenses include critical disability studies and critical social theory, with an empirical focus on understanding, deconstructing and reconstructing sports coaching cultures.

Recent Publications

  • Cushion, C. J., & Townsend, R. C. (2018). Technology-enhanced learning in coaching: a review of literature. Educational Review, 1-19. doi:10.1080/00131911.2018.1457010

  • Townsend, R., Huntley, T., Cushion, C., & Fitzgerald, H. (2018). ‘It’s not about disability, I want to win as many medals as possible’: The social construction of disability in high-performance coaching. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. doi:10.1177/1012690218797526

  • Townsend, R. C., Cushion, C. J., & Smith, B. (2017). A social relational analysis of an impairment-specific mode of disability coach education. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10(3), 346-361. doi:10.1080/2159676X.2017.1407355

  • Townsend, R. C., Smith, B., & Cushion, C. J. (2015). Disability sports coaching: towards a critical understanding. Sports Coaching Review, 4(2), 80-98. doi:10.1080/21640629.2016.1157324

Find more research publications by Robert Townsend


Disabilities; Elite Athletes; Inclusive Education; Pedagogy; Professional Learning; Race and Gender in Sport; Social Issues in Sport; Sociology; Special Education; Sports

Coaching, Coach Education, Coach Development, Disability Sport, Qualitative Research, Social Theory

Contact Details

Name  Extn.  Username  Room  Department
Townsend, Mr Robert 9491 rtownsen TT.6.13 Te Huataki Waiora - School of Health

You can contact staff by:
  • Calling +64 7 838 4466  select option 1, then enter the extension
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension  e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123
  • Emailing
  • Using the campus map to locate their room