Knowledge, attitudes and practices of plyometrics among high school sports coaches in Harare province Zimbabwe.
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Strength and conditioning is an important component of athletic success. However, in an African context, strength and conditioning practices are often overlooked. For coaches to effectively implement strength and conditioning programmes, and plyometric training in particular, with their athletes they must address several important training factors which implies that they should be knowledgeable in the implementation of the program. A coach may hold a positive attitude about plyometric training, but if the understanding of the fundamentals of how it functions and improves performance then consistency in the program is not pronounced or translated into strength and conditioning practices. The purpose of this study was to systematically review the role of concurrent strength and endurance training in endurance running and to examine the knowledge, attitudes and practices of plyometrics among high school sports coaches in Harare Province, Zimbabwe. The study design comprised: i) a systematic review of professional peer-reviewed journal publications in the literature using Pubmed, Medline, Science Direct, Ebscohost, Biomed, CINAHL, Embase and Google Scholar as search engines; and ii) a questionnaire-based KNAP descriptive survey among males and female high school coaches (n=100) from 45 schools in the Harare province of Zimbabwe. Results from the systematic review showed that concurrent strength training and endurance running improves the running endurance of endurance runners, without impacting on their VO2max and LT. Combined core strength training and running had contradictory findings regarding the benefits for enhanced running performance. The use of strength training as a protective measure against musculoskeletal running injuries has shown to be a worthwhile intervention. The results from the survey indicated that high school coaches in Harare Province of Zimbabwe, are typically between 30 to 39 yrs of age, with between 5 and 15 years of coaching experience and are mostly male. Slightly more than half (54%) of the coaches let their athletes perform plyometrics. While almost all of the coaches (95%; p≤0.0001) have previously participated competitively themselves, very few (11%; p≤0.0001) have previously done plyometrics themselves and the majority (94%; p≤0.0001) have not had any formal training in plyometrics. With the exception of coaches with training in sport science, who scored an average of 65% for a 20 item knowledge test on plyometrics, generally the coaches have very poor knowledge with regards to plyometric strength training exercise. Although male coaches knowledge was better than that of females and those with 5-15 years of experience had better knowledge than those with more than 15 years of experience, overall the coaches only managed to score an average of 35% for the same a 20 item knowledge test on plyometrics, and accordingly there is a resistance to the practice of using plyometrics more often in the training of their athletes.