Coaches play a major role in encouraging and ensuring that participants of their teams adopt appropriate safety practices. However, the extent to which the coaches undertake this role will depend upon their attitudes about injury prevention, their perceptions of what the other coaches usually do and their own beliefs about how much control they have in delivering such programmes. Fifty-one junior netball coaches were surveyed about incorporating the teaching of correct (safe) landing technique during their delivery of training sessions to junior players. Overall, >94% of coaches had strongly positive attitudes towards teaching correct landing technique and >80% had strongly positive perceptions of their own control over delivering such programmes. Coaches’ ratings of social norms relating to what others think about teaching safe landing were more positive (>94%) than those relating to what others actually do (63–74%). In conclusion, the junior coaches were generally receptive towards delivering safe landing training programmes in the training sessions they led. Future coach education could include role modelling by prominent coaches so that more community-level coaches are aware that this is a behaviour that many coaches can, and do, engage in.
- Injury Prevention
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Coaches play a major role in delivering safety interventions to players, especially for junior participants.1–5 In many sports, coaches determine what specific activities (eg, conditioning programmes) players should undertake during training to reduce their risk of injury.5 ,6 This requires them to plan their coaching strategies to ensure that they deliver safety programmes and techniques to their players.
Most studies of coaches’ delivery of safety measures are limited because they only focus on their attitudes.7 Therefore, there is very little published information about the broader range of coach behavioural determinants that could impact on their willingness to deliver safety programmes to their players. For example, behavioural change theories such as the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) have identified social norm influences (eg, perceptions about what others think and do) and perceived behavioural control (eg, how much control they have over their behaviour) as important behavioural determinants.8
This paper describes coaches’ attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control in relation to their delivering safety programmes to the junior teams they lead. The specific application is to coaches’ teaching of ‘correct landing technique to netball players during every training session’ (or CLT) to reduce the latter's risk of lower limb injury.
Sixty-one club-nominated junior coaches from two netball associations in Victoria, Australia were invited to participate. The study was approved by the University of Ballarat Human Ethics Committee and all coaches gave their informed consent before participating.
A 12-item (seven-point bipolar scale) self-report questionnaire based on the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) was developed to assess coach attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control9 in relation to their teaching CLT. The questionnaire was completed before the first game of the season.
Fifty-one coaches (84% response rate) completed the questionnaire. Most had positive attitudes towards teaching CLT and none responded negatively to any attitude item (table 1). The majority responded positively to the subjective norm items (table 1). There was more variability for items concerned with other coaches’ actual teaching practices than with what other coaches thought about teaching CLT. No coach was ‘extremely’ negative about any statement.
The majority of coaches had strongly positive perceived behavioural control (table 1). There was more variability in relation to their perceived control over being able to teach CLT than in their perceived capability to teach it.
Coach-led programmes designed to teach CLT to players have the potential to decrease lower limb injury risk in netballers and other sports.2 However, the success of interventions incorporating such training programmes depends on coaches incorporating them into their regular training session delivery plans.2 ,6 Even though players are the intended end beneficiaries of such programmes, the attitudes and beliefs of coaches influence whether or not such programmes are delivered to players in the first place.1 ,10
Overall, coaches had consistently strong positive attitudes towards teaching CLT to their junior players. This suggests that (a) they would be receptive towards receiving specific education about how to deliver such programmes, and (b) such education would not need to have a heavy focus on explaining why safe landing technique training in junior netball is important. This is in contrast to a survey of junior rugby union coaches that identified a clear need for further education about the mechanisms and early management of injury.3
The coaches held strong positive beliefs that other coaches would support the need to teach players about CLT, but they were not sure that many of their contemporaries actually did so. This suggests that coach education programmes should include coach role models, perhaps through illustrative examples and case studies, as social pressure (eg, peer role models) could influence coaches’ intentions to deliver such programmes themselves.
While coaches had positive perceptions of the control they have over teaching CLT, they were less convinced of their capability to do so. This suggests that education programmes need to better equip coaches with the skills to deliver such programmes confidently to their junior players. This conclusion was also reached from coach responses to an education programme to enhance safety in youth ice hockey in Canada.4
There are some limitations to this study. First, the sample size was relatively small and it is not known how representative of other junior netball coaches the surveyed sample was. Second, it did not collect information about other factors that could influence coaches’ views (eg, experiences with injured athletes, previous engagement in delivering safety programmes, etc).
In conclusion, when coaches operate with a high degree of autonomy, their delivery of safety programmes may depend on what they think other coaches are doing in relation to such programmes. Strategies to increase coach willingness to deliver safety training programmes should include opportunities for communication between coaches about what they are/are not doing (eg, engaging high profile coaches to act as positive role models in coach education sessions). Although sporting bodies could place expectations on coaches to deliver safety programmes in their training sessions, coaches’ actual actions may depend on how competent they believe they are to do so. Coach education that provides the skills/strategies necessary to implement these programmes, including how to generate and maintain player motivation, could assist with this.
The study would not have been possible without the active involvement of clubs and coaches from the two netball associations. We thank Smartplay Victoria, Netball Victoria, Netball Australia and Sport and Recreation Victoria for their contributions to the project through the Project Steering Committee. The Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP) is one of the International Research Centres for Prevention of Injury and Protection of Athlete Health supported by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Contributors CFF was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Principal Research Fellowship (ID: 565900). All authors contributed to the drafting of the manuscript, provided critical comment on its content and were members of the research team overseeing the project. Authors CFF, LO, NS and AD were named investigators on the initial funding application and conceived the study. Authors PEW and MR were appointed as research staff to conduct the project. The study data collection phase was conducted when all authors were employed at the University of Ballarat. Write-up of the paper occurred when three authors (PEW, AD and CFF) were subsequently employed at Monash University.
Funding Injury Prevention Community Grants Program of the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.
Competing interests None.
Ethics approval University of Ballarat Ethics Committee.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.
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