Applied Improvisation in the Sport Management Curriculum


  • Mandy Barefoot Louisiana State University
  • J. Michael Martinez Louisiana State University
  • Hannah Sensenbrenner Morrow Louisiana State University



applied improvisation, engaged learning, sport management curriculum development, sport management education, constructivist learning


Despite the incorporation of a range of engaged learning strategies within sport management education, many sport industry employers still perceive sport management graduates as lacking the soft skills needed to be successful in such a dynamic industry (Keiper et al., 2019).  The authors suggest applied improvisation (improv) as a pedagogical tool to address this skills gap.  “Applied improv” describes the application of improvisation principles outside of the theatre setting (Dudeck & McClure, 2018). Applied improv in the classroom has been presented as an emerging learner-centered approach to instruction (Skinner et al., 2022) that has the potential to meet classroom objectives while simultaneously developing students’ communication and soft skills. Many proponents of applied improv in the classroom environment tout its ability to facilitate communication and collaboration while building participant confidence, especially in human services disciplines (e.g., Chan, 2021; Gao et al., 2019; Hoffmann-Longtin et al., 2018). Using constructivism as a theoretical lens, this commentary explores the existing body of applied improvisation literature to provide recommendations for pedagogical applications within the sport management curriculum to address the employability skills gap of entry-level sport employees. The application of the current review will assist sport management educators in developing curricula and coursework while providing a foundation for future empirical studies on the efficacy and outcomes of applied improv within the sport management curriculum.

Author Biographies

Mandy Barefoot, Louisiana State University

Mandy Barefoot is a doctoral candidate in sport management in the School of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include strategic human resources development, the employee experience, and related dimensions of organizational behavior in sport organizations.

J. Michael Martinez, Louisiana State University

J. Michael Martinez, PhD, is an associate professor of sport management and director of online programs in the School of Kinesiology at Louisiana State University. His research interests focus on the human resource management function of sport organizations, specifically focusing on work experiences of employees within sport.

Hannah Sensenbrenner Morrow, Louisiana State University

Hannah Sensenbrenner Morrow is a doctoral candidate in the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development at Louisiana State University. Her research interests focus on exploring the transformative potential of applied improvisation, improv comedy, and theater-based experiential learning methodologies to revolutionize leadership and organizational training and development strategies.


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