Exploring Variation in Recreation Activity Leaders’ Experiences of Leading


  • Donna E. Little
  • Michael N. Watkins


activity leaders, leading, skill instruction, educating for understanding, facilitating change, phenomenography


Recreation activity leaders are the front line providers of leisure experiences for a vast range of participants and activities. This article reports on the meanings activity leaders attach to their experiences of leading in the recreation field. Interviews conducted with 40 activity leaders from the fields of coaching, community recreation, fitness and outdoor recreation revealed three qualitatively different yet inter-related ways of experiencing leading: a) leading is skill instruction, b) leading is educating for understanding and c) leading is facilitating change. The results suggest that activity leader experiences can be ordered on a continuum of progressively more complex approaches to understanding leading, which reflect variation in leader awareness. Based on these findings it is suggested that leader’s approach to leading is dependent, not only on previously established influences of situation and personality, but also on their capacity to experience more complex ways of leading. Implications of these findings indicate that leisure providers need to use caution when gauging recreation activity leaders’ capacities as years of experience, age and qualification may not be sufficiently indicative of performance. In addition, it is suggested that employers need to be aware of a potential recreation leader’s understanding, role capability and interpretation of leading before appointing or allocating tasks.?





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