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COACHES’ AWARENESS AND PERCEIVED RESPONSIBILITIES TOWARDS ATHLETES’ PEAK PERFORMANCE IN NIGERIA

BY

 O.A. Moronkola; A.O. Ajala; F.R. Airebamen; C. U. Azubuike;  S.K. Odior and A. Jimmy

MONOGRAPH 2, 2022

Abstract

This study examined coaches’ awareness and responsibilities towards athletes’ peak performance in Nigeria. Participants included 141 coaches (N=141) who led athletes to the 2021 national youth competition. They completed the Coaches’ Awareness and Responsibilities Questionnaire (CARPQ) consisting of six (6) subscales. The CARPQ had a cronbach alpha of .95. The questionnaire was administered once. The result revealed that there was a high level of performance discipline (86.5%) among the participants. Also, coaches were found to have a high level of awareness of risk management routines (85.8%). There was a relatively high level of awareness of risk management routines: injury prevention; 83% (weighted mean=3.10), communication; 78.3% (weighted mean=2.96), nutritional measures; 75.1% (weighted mean=2.87) and goal setting; 83.4% (weighted mean=3.14). Proper and effective application of performance discipline and risk management routines will improve athletes’ efforts towards peak performance in their quest to attain podium level.

Keywords: Peak Performance, Performance Discipline, Risk Management Routines, Podium level   

 

INTRRODUCTION

The dream of any young athlete is to attain a peak level of performance, thereby becoming a podium athlete. Achieving this requires that the athlete is equipped with qualities like raw skills, determination to succeed, spirit of diligence, dedication and commitment among others. Most children and youth are in love with sports. Most have sports idols and dream of becoming just like him or her. Whether a child’s particular sport experience is rewarding depends exclusively on the people who are in charge of the programs are responsible for their skill acquisition and and continued interest in sports. Participation in sport has numerous benefits for young athletes, including improved skill development, fitness, and self-esteem. Nevertheless, sport is also known to be a stressful environment for some of its participants (Voight, 2002; Weinberg & Gould,  2007). Young athletes are fully socialized into sport by the coach. The coach is at the very hub of the sport activity. The coach is the architect, the definer, the creator, and the provider of each athlete’s experiences in sport. In this role, the coach can make or break the quality of each athlete’s experience. In youth sports, coaches are providing youngsters with their first introduction and earliest experiences with sport, with being a part of a team, with learning skills, rules, and strategies, and with the excitement, thrills and risks of athletic competition. The quality of these first sport experiences—literally, whether they are “make” or “break”—may have a profound influence and significant impact on the youngsters’ enjoyment and continued participation in sport, as well as their personal growth and development. Simply, these early experiences must be positive, exciting, interesting, encouraging, and enjoyable. For the youth sport coach to be well prepared to provide such an experience requires right intentions, strong commitments, and several key and important understandings (Lumpkin & Stokowski, 2011).

As youngsters enter into sports, what usually occupy their minds is the dream of achieving great feats and becoming world class athletes and earning big. They hope to do sports at the topmost level and gain the limelight, thereby becoming household names. Unfortunately, most of these young athletes abandon their dreams of attaining peak level of performance due to many factors like poverty, lack of exposure, limited access to standard equipment and facilities, and particularly, poor handling by coaches who are bereft of the experience and competence and are themselves in need of tutelage and updating in the trade (Wall & Cote, 2007). Undoubtedly, young athletes in Nigeria are in need of experienced and competent coaches who are knowledgeable enough to nurture them from cradle to stardom. Looking at the abundance of raw talents Nigeria is blessed with, it can succinctly be inferred that her performance in sports is below expectation. For a coach to be able to nurture young athletes to peak performance and stardom level, he must be able to display dynamism in his/her approach by consistently applying new methods in order to avoid stereotyped approach that can lead to the production of average athletes who will merely compete for the fun of it, having so little to show for their efforts.

Young athletes are fully socialized into sport by the coach. The coach is at the very hub of the sport activity. The coach is the architect, the definer, the creator, and the provider of each athlete’s experiences in sport. In this role, the coach can make or break the quality of each athlete’s experience. In youth sports, coaches are providing youngsters with their first introduction and earliest experiences with sport, with being a part of a team, with learning skills, rules, and strategies, and with the excitement, thrills and risks of athletic competition. The quality of these first sport experiences—literally, whether they are “make” or “break”—may have a profound influence and significant impact on the youngsters’ enjoyment and continued participation in sport, as well as their personal growth and development. Simply, these early experiences must be positive, exciting, interesting, encouraging, and enjoyable. For the youth sport coach to be well prepared to provide such an experience requires right intentions, strong commitments, and several key and important understandings (Lumpkin & Stokowski, 2011).

Hershfeldt, Pell, Sechrest, & Bradshaw (2012) believed that peak performance in sports simply means the ability of an athlete to perform maximally and achieve success. It is a full demonstration of motor and skills performance to the maximum which often results in success. Hornby (2004) defined peak performance as the point when somebody is best and most successful in performing a task. Athletes and coaches always think they must only practice longer and harder to attain this peak performance. They are reluctant to include psychological tools in their training and performance in quest for excellence which Wuest & Bucher (2006) noted as the Olympic motto of “Swifter, higher and stronger”. In other words athletes are constantly experimenting with new ways to enhance their performance. This is only achieved when young athletes are handled by coaches who are well equipped and experienced in nurturing them to the level of fully displaying great skills that will earn them success during competitions. A good coach is positive, enthusiastic, supportive, trusting, focused, goal-oriented, knowledgeable, observant, respectful, patient and a clear communicator.

Another area that is of utmost importance for coaches of youth sports is risk management. To provide reasonably safe education and sport programs that limit injuries is an important goal for organizers of sports programmes (especially the ones that involve the youth) and school principals/headmasters (Gray, 1995).  Principals/headmasters and leaders of sport programs do this through managing the risks of injury and the resulting legal and financial impacts of injuries to the school or organization. According to Spengler (2009) risk management is “a course of action designed to reduce the risk (probability or likelihood) of injury and loss to sport participants, spectators, employees, management and organizations”.  The process of risk management includes recognition of the risks, analysis of the risks and action taken). Identifying the likelihood that a problem with the facility, equipment or way the sport activity is conducted could lead to injuries is the first step of recognizing the risk.  After the risk has been identified, analysis of the potential frequency and severity of the risks helps coaches, educators, and administrators to be able to determine the best approach to take to deal with the risk.  The development of a plan of action through policies and procedures is the final step before implementing the plan (Spengler, 2009). Implementing the plan includes communicating the plan, providing training for employees, and managing the plan (Ammon, 2007). 

According to Ben, Ugwanyi & Ugwu (2016), quoting Hornby (2004) peak performance is the point when somebody is best and most successful in performing a task. Most sportsmen, including athletes and coaches are always of the opinion that they must only practice longer and harder to attain peak performance. Incorporating psychological tools into their training and performance in quest for excellence has always been the last option for them even though Wuest and Bucher (2006) saw it as the Olympic motto of “Swifter, higher and stronger”. In other words athletes are constantly experimenting with new ways to enhance their performance. Ikulayo (1990) also opined that psychological factors which must be considered for peak performance in sports include; personal factors, motivational factors and mental factors. To achieve excellence in sporting events, positive interaction of all these factors is necessary so that actors may reach a harmonious state of readiness, physically, mentally and emotionally. This could be done by developing the strategies which will prepare the athlete to enter the competition with the “proper mindset”. For instance a long distance athlete may never think to enter a long distance race without spending time to physically prepare the body to meet the conditioning demands of a race. Yet, athletes want psychological skills. He or she would need to help him or herself achieve the best physical performance to excel in the competition.  As the science of sport performance evolves, it becomes increasingly important to integrate the mental and physical aspect of performance. Traditionally, no attention has been given to the cognitive aspects of performance. Coaches and athletes have devoted most of their attention to the physical components of performance. 

 

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PODIUM SUCCESS AND SUSTAINABLE SPORTS DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA: A TRIPOD OF PSYCHOLOGICAL INTERVENTIONS

INAUGURAL LECTURE DELIVERED AT THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR SPORTS

on Wednesday, 20th April, 2022

By

Dr. ADENIYI  JIMMY

NCE, B.Ed. (Zaria), M.Ed. (Lagos), Ph.D(Ojo)

Director, Department of Coaching and Training, National Institute for Sports, Surulere, Lagos, Nigeria

NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR SPORTS, SURULERE, LAGOS

 

In lecturing, I found the opportunity to express my passion in teaching  Sports Psychology here at NIS, and where my services may be needed as Adjunct lecturer. Along my years  of service, I developed sympathy for individuals and athletes who have deficiencies in actualizing their potentials at competitive levels. A great deal of researches are now being conducted on the inability of athletes to achieve podium success in their fields of sport endeavour and these researches have helped in the growth and development of the Sports Psychology discipline. It has also helped practitioners to modify interventional approaches with athletes, coaches, and administrators.

I choose to deliver this inaugural lecture titled “Podium Success and Sustainable Sports Development in Nigeria: A Tripod of Psychological Interventions for a number of reasons. First, this title is a pointer to my research efforts since joining the institute and to the contributions I have made through Sports Psychology, being a panacea to optimal sports performance of athletes towards national development. Secondly, some inadequacies are still being noticed as hinderances to achieving podium success at competition levels and these require urgent psychological interventions. Furthermore, it is my fervent belief that the place of the sports psychologists in individual athlete’s performance is yet to be fully  harnessed for fruitful results.

            These informed my research focus and choice of the inaugural lecture topic.

Preamble

The main body of this inaugural lecture is structured into six parts, these are:

  1. Sports: Origin and concept
  2. Contributions of Sports Psychologists to Sports development
  3. Predictors of Sports Development
  4. Sports Development Efforts in Nigeria
  5. Link between Podium Success and Sports Development
  6. Psychological Interventions and Sports Performance.