Dr Darren Watts

MSST, BSc (Hons), FHEA, PGCE, MSc, PhD

  • University Teacher in Sport Coaching and Sport Pedagogy

Darren completed a BSc in Sport Sciences at Brunel University (first-class honours & graduate award for sporting and academic excellence) in 2001. He was awarded a full scholarship towards a master's (MSc) degree in Sports Coaching at Brunel University (2003). Subsequently, he obtained a Post Graduate Certification in Education (PGCE) from the University of Buckingham (2008).

He has twenty years of vocational experience in different sports and contexts, including 'Head of Sport' roles in three schools. This experience has included: participation, development, performance, and disability coaching contexts, as well as classroom teaching experience in primary (PHSE lead), secondary (PHSE), and FE (sport sciences) settings. He has also been a mentor for newly qualified teachers and coaches.

Darren started his university teacher role at Loughborough University in 2013. He has devised and delivered undergraduate and postgraduate coaching modules and been a programme director for the MSc in Sport Coaching. In 2020, he completed his PhD (‘Exploring professional coach educators in the United Kingdom: experiences, roles and realities’) under the supervision of Professor Christopher Cushion and Professor Lorraine Cale. Darren is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Darren is a qualified coach in several sports. He has twice been awarded ‘University Sports Coach of the Year’ at two British Universities, and has conducted coach education workshops and worked in the USA. He has first team coaching experience in our men’s and women’s football programmes.  He continues to undertake coaching and talent development visits in several sports and countries. He also has professional football playing and coaching experience and currently coaches on a voluntary basis within the community. Darren has a keen interest in sports injuries and rehabilitation, and has been a Member of the Society of Sports Therapists for over ten years.

  • Qualitative research methods
  • Coach education
  • Biography, coach learning, and professional development
  • Professional educators
  • Journal Reviewer: Sport, Education & Society and Sports Coaching Review
  • Coach mentoring (Loughborough University graduates)
  • Member of The Society of Sports Therapists (MSST)
  • Advisory roles in tertiary education (sporting provision)

Featured publications

  • Watts, D. W., Cushion, C. J., & Cale, L. (2023). Exploring professional coach educators’ realities, challenges and workplace relationships. Sport, Education and Society 28(3), 313-325. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2021.2019696
  • Watts, D. W., Cushion, C. J., & Cale, L. (2022). Exploring professional coach educators’ journeys and perceptions and understandings of learning. Sport, Education and Society27(5), 632–646. DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2021.1887115
  • Watts, D. W. (2020). Exploring professional coach educators in the United Kingdom: experiences, roles and realities (Doctoral dissertation, Loughborough University)
  • Watts, D. W. & Cushion, C. J. (2016). Coaching journeys: longitudinal experiences from professional football in Great Britain. Sports Coaching Review. DOI: 10.1080/21640629.2016.1238135

Conference Presentations

  • June 2018: 6th Annual Conference on Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise (QRSE). The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. Coach Educator Symposium: An Insight to the Coach Educator: Coach Educators’ Learning Journeys.
  • July 2017: The International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE), 11th Global Coach Conference, Liverpool. An Insight to the Coach Educator: Coach Educators’ Understanding of Learning
  • June 2016: AIESEP International Conference. Blazing New Trails: Future Directions for Sport Pedagogy and Physical Activity. Laramie, Wyoming, USA. Coaching journeys: longitudinal experiences from professional football in Great Britain
  • 2016: Understanding Professional Educators: An examination of coach educators and coach education. Loughborough University PGR Conference
  • 2015: National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention (NSCAA) Philadelphia, USA. Coach Learning and Coach Education – A Longitudinal Perspective