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- PublicationFrequency of Self-Reported Concussion Amongst Professional and Semi-Professional Footballers in Ireland During the 2014 Season: a Cross-Sectional StudyBackground: This paper examines the occupational risk of concussion amongst professional and semi-professional footballers in Ireland during the 2014 League of Ireland season. As part of a broader nationally representative study examining occupational safety and health (OSH) awareness amongst professional footballers, this empirical quantitative study, utilising a convenience sample is the first and largest investigation of the frequency of, and attitudes towards, concussion and concussion reporting amongst Irish senior professional and semi-professional footballers. Methods: A census survey using an anonymous questionnaire was provided to available League of Ireland clubs between March and May 2015. Permission to access players was provided by the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland. This convenience sample was determined by club availability in relation to match fixtures. Participation by the footballers was voluntary. At the time, there were 250 professional and semi-professional players within the League available to participate. Results: A total of 149 footballers participated in the study. Sixty percent of the participants were employed on a semi-professional basis and the majority of all participants were aged between 18 and 30. 15.7% of the participants reported having received a concussion in the 2014 season with semi-professional players having a noticeably higher (though not significant) reporting rate. Analysis indicated that there was a significant association between playing position and concussion reporting with defenders having the greater odds of reporting a concussion than other playing positions. Professional and semi-professional footballers have a relatively equal risk of receiving a concussion. Conclusion: This research is the first major investigation of the self-reported frequency of, and attitudes towards, concussion amongst Irish senior professional and semi-professional footballers. The results have important implications for coaches, clinicians, parents, players and national governing bodies. Further research is needed to ascertain whether professional footballers perceive concussion as an occupational risk, and whether they appreciate that accepting such risks can have long-term implications for health.
Scopus© Citations 4 329
- PublicationPerformance Management: A Systematic Review of Processes in Elite Sport and Other Performance DomainsPerformance management is integral for high-performing organizations and teams. The purpose of this review was to synthesize evidence on performance management across elite sport and other performance-focused domains (business, performing arts, high-risk professions). A systematic search and screening strategy was undertaken. Twenty studies satisfied the inclusion criteria. Thematic synthesis enabled the identification of key components of performance management. Similarities and differences between elite sport and other domains are identified across the following themes: strategic performance management, operational performance management, individual performance management, and leadership of the performance team. Implications for practitioners in elite sport are also considered across these themes.
Scopus© Citations 17 1496
- PublicationConsidering Occupational Safety Awareness in Elite Rugby: A Game of Near-MissesRugby players often experience risk exposure that has potentially very serious long-term health implications. Safety and risk awareness in rugby has thus become crucial especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic. This study aimed to advance understanding of safety awareness within elite rugby by exploring relationships between players, their behaviors, and the role stakeholders play in support and management. This study explored safety awareness in the context of elite rugby by utilizing document analysis, and an ethnographic approach incorporating observation, and semi-structured interviews. Participants were from rugby teams in Ireland. Observations occurred between August 2017 and May 2018, focusing on training sessions and competitive games. Data gathered were analyzed by thematic analysis using software NVivo. The findings identified three key themes: first, the risk to rugby players long-term health consequences tended to be underestimated; second, risk may be aggregated by players’ risk-taking behavior as a result of social exposure from stakeholders; third, safety practices in rugby, such as injury reporting, need to become more proactive rather than reactive. The dilemma that rugby players who prioritize their performance have to compromise their health-and-wellbeing can be ameliorated by safety culture cultivation, initiating with an encouragement of open communication on safety concerns.
- PublicationAn Exploration of Performance Management Processes used within Olympic Sport ProgrammesThe organizational environment and role delivery of support personnel have been identified as increasingly important to elite athletes’ preparation for, and performance at, pinnacle competitions. As a result, performance management has been identified as a salient research topic within the field of organizational sport psychology. The purpose of this study was to identify the performance management processes used within Olympic sport programmes and explore how these processes interact in an organizational context. Thirteen participants working in senior positions within Olympic sport organizations (e.g., national performance director) across a range of countries were interviewed. Thematic analysis identified performance management processes existing across strategic, operational, and individual levels in Olympic sport programmes. The findings also suggested that these socially dynamic processes are interrelated and influenced by the delivery of the performance leader’s role. A preliminary conceptual framework was developed to highlight these processes and illustrate their interrelated nature. Overall, the findings advance our knowledge and understanding of performance management as an organizational concept within elite sport. Practical implications are provided for sport psychology practitioners to assess and optimize how performance management processes are used within elite sport programmes.
Scopus© Citations 4 79
- PublicationEvaluating safety and risk awareness in contact sports: development of a quantitative survey for elite rugbyIntroduction: Considerable media attention has recently focused on an increased number of professional athletes that experience forced retirement due to severe injuries. Despite the highly completive, physical nature and tolerance of risk in contact sports, no Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) awareness-related measurement instrument exists in professional sports. As part of a wider project, this study aimed to develop a survey instrument to evaluate risk and safety awareness in sports, taking elite rugby (union) as an example. Methods: Based on the identified conceptual framework incorporating theories from the OSH discipline, the survey has been updated for three rounds according to the feedback from a multidisciplinary team of experts before the pilot test. The pilot test data (n=46, response rate 76.7%) were imported to SPSS for analysis and validation. The survey's key themes included health outlook, tackle behavior, awareness of risk acceptance, reasons for risk-taking, and safety consideration for other players. Results: Overall, the survey has a high internal consistency (Cronbach's α= 0.742). Some sections of the survey require a further factor analysis, such as awareness of risk acceptance during the competition (Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin Measure of Sampling Adequacy - KMO <0.767, p<0.001) and reasons for risk-taking (KMO<0.604, p=0.003). Some sections require a larger sample size for further validation, such as safety consideration for other players (KMO<0.481, p<0.001). Conclusion: This is the first survey that evaluates players' safety and risk awareness in rugby drawing upon OSH concepts. Such a survey has the potential to improve athletes' health and wellbeing by customized educational intervention, which could point the way forward for its application in a wider range of sport settings internationally.
- PublicationProtecting the Health and Wellbeing of Rugby Players and Support Staff from an Occupational Safety and Health Perspective during Return to Play in A Global PandemicBackground: The contact nature of rugby with intensive physical interaction often exposes its players to a high risk of injury and illness. Compliance with prescribed safety guidelines when returning to play during the COVID-19 pandemic is important for both rugby players and their support staff ’s health and wellbeing. Methods: This paper explores health and hygiene awareness in a rugby context and provides insights on practical return-to-play (RTP) solutions during the COVID-19 crisis. This study was conducted through interviews with 15 senior rugby support staff employed in elite rugby. A thematic analysis was adopted emphasising the need for a consideration of hygiene and social distancing practices arising from COVID-19. Results: Players are exposed to the risk of trauma resulting in skin abrasions and lacerations etc. which may aggregate the risk of infectious diseases. A level of micromanagement practices that builds on the current situation are essential, considering rugby players in a high level of fitness condition and at a relatively young age can be overly confident with their ability to deal with the risk of illness. Player awareness such as symptom reporting and RTP after unwellness is required for ensuring their health and wellbeing and of their fellow players as well as support staff during the back to field process. Conclusions: Returning to rugby practice and competition will require a level of micromanagement and player safety awareness education to achieve the goal of optimally protecting the players from potential illness and/or spreading it to fellow players and support staff.
- PublicationOccupational safety and concussion injury awareness of Irish professional and semi-professional footballersIn recent years, there has been a growth in research examining concussion and injury risk in football, with national football associations and leagues in countries such as the Netherlands and Italy undertaking much needed research. Studies of high-school, university-level and professional football players also now exist in the recent literature. However, the significance of parameters such as player age and professional occupational status remains unclear. Moreover, despite a growth in studies examining concussion-reporting rates and practices with professional rugby players in Ireland, studies examining the occupational risks associated with injury and concussion in particular amongst Irish semi-professional and professional footballers are lacking. Finally, research examining personal safety awareness and attitudes towards safety management amongst professional athletes has been limited. In response, the purpose of this study was to investigate safety awareness and concussion-reporting frequencies of a cohort of Irish professional footballers.
- PublicationAttitudes to and awareness of Safety and Risk among Professional and Semi-Professional Footballers in Ireland: A Cross-Sectional StudyThis paper examines the attitudes towards safety and risk among professional and semi-professional footballers during the 2014 League of Ireland season. As part of a broader nationally-representative study examining occupational safety and health and concussion injury awareness among professional footballers, this study is the first and largest investigation of its kind in Ireland. A census survey using an anonymous questionnaire was provided to all clubs that were available in the League of Ireland clubs between March and May 2015. Permission to access players was provided by the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland. Participation was voluntary. At the time, there were 250 professional and semi-professional players within the League available to participate of which 149 footballers participated voluntarily and anonymously. Sixty per cent of the participants were employed on a semi-professional basis, and the majority of all participants were aged between 18 and 30. Analysis indicated that there were few significant associations betweenplayers’ professional status and attitudes towards issues relating to safety management and risk taking. Players in general have an unacceptable level (<20%) of awareness concerning their clubs safety programs. The results have implications for stakeholders responsible for management of safety and risk in professional football clubs.