Conceptualization and operationalization of variables
Poor communication between young athletes and coaches leads to longer recovery times and increased levels of frustration amongst athletes regarding their prognosis.
Independent Variable: Effective and ineffective communication between coaches and young athletes.
Conceptualization: Sports injuries are a serious concern. There has been a rise in the rate of youth sports injuries in recent decades, an increase partially attributed to a corresponding rise in youth specialization at an early age and year ’round participation in the same type of competitive sports activity, versus varying sports (Merkel & Molony 2013). In some sports, there are also grave concerns about the risk of permanent injury on every level of competition, as manifested in concerns about head trauma amongst football players, making it all the more critical to reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring when young (Lopate 2013). Overuse injuries are common many popular youth sports: “Preteens training at regional centers or with high school and club teams in sports such as gymnastics may train more than 20 hours per week” (Caine et al. 2006). Overtraining has also been linked to psychological burnout and plateauing at the sport (Kristiansen et al. 2012).
Sports such as “football, baseball, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball, judo, weightlifting, soccer, rugby, tennis, cricket, and long-distance running” have been criticized because of the sport-specific strain they put on particular areas of the body at the expense of others (Caine et al. 2006). “The main regions of physical injuries are the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and knee” (Caine et al. 2006). But identifying potentially serious injuries requires both a vigilant athlete and a vigilant player who know how to differentiate between serious and non-serious injuries. There may be reluctance amongst players to report problems for fear of seeming weak; a lack of knowledge amongst youth and coaches about the symptoms of non-apparent injuries like concussions, and fear of getting less ‘play time.’ “From a systems theory perspective, communication must be understood as a three-part selection process, composed of information, utterance, and understanding & #8230; symbolically generalized communications are additional mechanisms that operate alongside language” (Borggrefe & Cachay 2013). This study hypothesizes that a lack of effective communication between athletes and coaches can result in more severe injuries due to ignoring player’s physical needs. This also leads to higher rates of frustration and burnout in young athletes.
Operationalization: “The Youth Sports Behavior Assessment System (YSBAS) contains nine behavioral categories describing behaviors commonly seen during youth sports. The developmental process of YSBAS and the observer-training program are detailed. Twenty-eight undergraduates were trained to observe both parents and coaches during youth sports games. These observers attained a mean interrater reliability coefficient of.93 (range = .79 to .98)” (Apache 2006). Behaviors include positive reinforcement; mistake reinforcement (encouraging mistake avoidance through encouraging words and encouraging players to not be concerned about errors); positive technical instruction; mistake technical instruction; punishment; control; general encouragements; negative comments to players; negative comments to other coaches and/or referees (Apache 2006).
The study will hypothesize that positive reinforcement behaviors identified as facilitating communication such as positive reinforcement; mistake reinforcement; positive technical instruction; mistake technical instruction; and general encouragement will be associated with improved communication and lesser risk of injury vs. punishment; control; negative comments to players; and negative comments to others which inhibit free and open communication.
II. Dependent Variables: Rates of injury and measures of athlete frustration.
Conceptualization: Although injuries are endemic to all sports, this study will suggest that poor communication between coaches and athletes yields relatively longer recovery periods, due to the fact that severe injuries remain untreated for so long and/or overtraining is not appropriately flagged. As a result, players experience greater frustration and negative emotions about their prospects for recovery.
Operationalization: Recovery time of study participants from the injuries reported will be compared with average recovery times from the injury nation-wide, based upon the player’s age and gender. Also, player’s levels of frustration with their injury will be measured using the Emotional Response of Athletes to Injury Questionnaire (ERAIQ). The scale asks athletes to rate emotions that result from an injury such as anger, fear, and depression from 1-10. “ERAIQ was initially developed from clinical interviews and is a psychosocial assessment for injured athletes. Although the ERAIQ does not have established psychometric properties, it has been published in various formats and frequently used to conduct assessments of injured athletes,” including the Mayo Clinic (Klenk 2006: 10-11).
Apache, R.R. (2006). The behavioral assessment of parents and coaches at youth sports:
Validity and reliability. Physical Educator, 63(3), 126-133.
Borggrefe, C., & Cachay, K. (2013). Communicative challenges of coaches in an elite-level sports system: Theoretical reflections on successful coaching strategies. EJSS: European Journal for Sport and Society, 10(1), 7-29.
Caine, D. (et al. 2006). Physical injuries in children’s and youth sports:
Reasons for concern? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40:749-760.
Klenk, C. (2006). Psychological response to injury, recovery, and social support. URI. Retrieved:
Kristiansen, E. (et al. 2012). Coaching communication issues with elite female athletes: two
Norwegian case studies. Scandinavian Journal of Sports Medicine, 22(6):e156-67.
Lopate, L. (2013). Concussions in the NFL. NPR. Retrieved:
Merkel, D. & Molony, J. (2013). Medical sports injuries in the youth athlete: Emergency management. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 7(2): 242 — 251. Retrieved: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325640/
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