Introduction The efficacy of knee injury-prevention exercise programs (IPEPs) for handball has been established, however their implementation in Danish youth handball is unknown. This study aimed to assess key IPEP implementation components in Danish youth handball, including coach and player attitudes, beliefs, and experiences.
Materials and methods 678 youth (14–18 years) handball players (372 boys, 307 girls) were surveyed about their use of IPEPs. A subgroup of players (n=473) and coaches (n=33) were subsequently surveyed about their attitudes and beliefs around IPEPs. Additionally, 5 coaches and 3 players were interviewed about their IPEP experiences.
Results Players reported performing some of the IPEP exercises (62%), however only 3% implemented the full IPEP. The majority performed these exercises once weekly (51%), while 17% did the exercises 3 times a week. Players recognize their high risk of injury (80% agree), and are willing to implement IPEPs if these reduce injury risk (84% agree) and enhance performance (88% agree). Coaches agreed that IPEPs are an important part of coach education (100%), and are the coach's responsibility to implement (87% agree). There is high agreement amongst players (73%) and coaches (87%) that coach motivation has a key influence on player motivation to participate in IPEPs. Qualitative interviews suggest that players and coaches felt that established IPEPs did not contain enough handball-specific exercises, and do not enhance performance.
Conclusion Danish youth handball players and coaches recognize the importance of IPEPs. They generally have positive attitudes towards injury prevention, however adherence to established IPEPs is low.
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