Community sports play an important role in maintaining sporting participation across all ages, from childhood to adulthood. Maintaining participation for females, however, can be a challenge. Injuries can negatively impact sporting participation, both in the short and long term. Thus, reducing the risk of injuries in community sports is essential. While there are developed injury prevention programs available, the uptake of such programs in community sports can be limited. Here, we outline how a female community sport in Ireland, namely, the Camogie Association, has developed and implemented an evidence-based strategy to improve the uptake of an injury prevention program nationally across all ages of their membership. We use the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance) sports setting matrix as a guiding tool for evaluating this strategy. Varying settings and levels were targeted in this six-step implementation sequence, including the national sporting organisation, regional sporting organisations, alongside the individual coaches and players. The main outcomes of the strategy were that the Camogie Association formally adopted the developed injury prevention program (the Camogie Injury Prevention Program) and the adapted age appropriate programs from 8 years of age and upward. The Camogie Association also embedded this program within their coaching training course. The developed education workshop successfully improved coaches’ attitudes and perceived ability to implement the Camogie Injury Prevention Program. The majority (72.5%) of coaches, 4 weeks after conducting the workshop, had implemented the program, and 95% felt the program could be maintained over multiple seasons. This program may provide guidance to similar national or regional sporting bodies that want to embed injury prevention programs within their respective governing body and maximise the implementation of an injury prevention program by their coaches and players.
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Siobhán O’Connor, Wesley O’Brien, and Peter Lacey
Wesley O’Brien, Irene Hogan, and Tara Coppinger
This paper examines Irish volunteer coaches’ experiences of the content and delivery of the “Gaelic4Teens” coach education initiative, and further seeks to evaluate if participants coaching behavior changed as a result. The Gaelic4Teens program aims to help coaches better understand the female teenage participant through enhancing the coach–athlete relationship, which in turn, seeks to help retain young females in the sport. Qualitative data were gathered over a 16-week period from August to November 2020 and comprised of pre and post online focus groups with eight (three females and five males) volunteer coaches; one from each of the eight rural community sport settings (n = 8) in Ireland. Findings revealed that the coach education program had a meaningful impact on coaches’ abilities to competently work with female adolescents. Specifically, the Gaelic4Teens program is effective as a blended learning coach education program that encouraged a coaching environment that empowered the female athletes. Further analysis, with additional stakeholder input, is warranted to ascertain its long-term effectiveness.
Wesley O’Brien, Michael J. Duncan, Orlagh Farmer, and Diarmuid Lester
Recent research has shown that post-primary Irish youth are insufficiently active and fail to reach a level of proficiency across basic fundamental movement skills. The purpose of the current research was to gather cross-sectional data on adolescent youth, differentiated by gender, specifically to inform the development of a targeted movement-oriented intervention. Data were collected on adolescents (N = 219; mean age : 14.45 ± 0.96 years), within two, mixed-gender schools. Data collection included actual and perceived movement measurements comprised of fundamental movement skills, the functional movement screen, perceived movement confidence, and perceived functional confidence. Overall, levels of actual mastery within fundamental and functional movement were low, with significant gender differences observed. Adolescent males scored higher in the overall fundamental movement skill domain (male mean score = 70.87 ± 7.05; female mean score = 65.53 ± 7.13), yet lower within the functional movement screen (male mean score = 13.58 ± 2.59), in comparison to their female counterparts (female mean score = 14.70 ± 2.16). There were high levels of perceived confidence reported within fundamental and functional movement scales. Future intervention strategies should combat the low levels of actual movement skill proficiency, while identifying the reasons for higher perceived movement confidence within adolescents.
Christina Duff, Johann Issartel, Wesley O’ Brien, and Sarahjane Belton
The aim of this study was to quantify levels of physical activity (PA) and fundamental movement skills (FMS) of children aged 3 to 5 years in Irish preschool services during care hours, and investigate the relationship between these two variables. Data were collected from 141 children (50.3% boys, age M = 3.9 ± 0.5 years) across 9 preschool services. Measurements included PA via accelerometry, and proficiency in four FMS (run, vertical jump, throw and catch). The recommended guideline of 15 minutes of PA per hour (min PA/hour) was met by 35% of children (M = 13.6 min PA/hour). Significant differences in mean PA per hour were found by gender, with boys (14.2 min PA/hour) more active than girls (13.0 min PA/ hour), and age, with younger children (14.2 min PA/hour) more active than older (12.6 minutes PA/hour). Percentage of children proficient in the run was high (88.4%), but low across the other skills (4.9%–18.5%). Significant differences were identified by gender for vertical jump with girls scoring higher than boys. No significant relationship was found between FMS and total PA. Low levels of PA and FMS proficiency highlight need for intervention in early years settings to ensure children develop skills to participate in PA.
Christina Duff, Johann Issartel, Wesley O’ Brien, and Sarahjane Belton
The Kids Active program was developed with the aim of increasing physical activity (PA) and fundamental movement skill (FMS) levels of children in preschool services in Ireland through training educators to encourage active play opportunities. In this study, the impact of a six-week pilot program on educator confidence, as well as children’s PA levels and FMS proficiency, is evaluated. Educators’ (n = 32) confidence to teach PA was measured through questionnaire, while data (anthropometric data, PA via accelerometry, and proficiency in four FMS; run, vertical jump, overhand throw, and catch) were collected from 141 children in five intervention and four control services. Educators in the intervention group achieved significantly higher confidence scores at post-intervention testing in comparison to the control group. No significant differences between control and intervention groups were found for children’s PA across the three-hour period. Children in the intervention group significantly increased scores in the overhand throw. Small positive changes in educator confidence to teach PA and in children’s performance of the skill of overhand throw indicate potential effects of the Kids Active intervention that warrant further investigation of efficacy over longer periods of time.
Sarahjane Belton, Wesley O’Brien, Eric E. Wickel, and Johann Issartel
The primary purpose of this study was to investigate patterns of noncompliance in an adolescent field based accelerometer study. A further purpose was to investigate the effect of a cost efficient strategy (SMS reminder message) on the compliance of adolescents
The research carried out in 2010 involved 117 second level students (12.41 ± .53 yrs) from 4 schools in a rural Irish town. The Actigraph accelerometer data were processed over 7 days to determine compliance level.
Students were more likely to remove their monitor in the evening period than at any other time, however if students removed their monitor after school it remained unworn for a significantly longer duration than in any other time period. Students who received a SMS message were significantly more likely (P = .008) to wear their monitor in the morning than those that did not.
Sending an SMS message each morning is effective for improving the number of students wearing monitors to school. The after school period is a critical period for nonwear time and should be targeted in future studies wishing to improve compliance.
Kwok Ng, Sean Healy, Wesley O’Brien, Lauren Rodriguez, Marie Murphy, and Angela Carlin
For the first time, data on children and adolescents with disabilities in Ireland are reported based on the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance Para Report Card methodology. The most recent data from the last 10 years were used in the grading process (A+ to F), and indicators with insufficient data were graded as incomplete. Of the 10 indicators from the Global Matrix Para Report Cards, grades were assigned to Overall Physical Activity (F), Organized Sport (D), Active Transport (D−), Sedentary Behaviors (D−), Family & Peers (C), School (C−), Community & Environment (B−), and Government (B). Irish disability sport organizations were invited to assess the research-led audit and provided commentary around the final grading. The contextual discussion of the grades is presented through the lens of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with the purpose being to provide direction for the reduction of physical activity disparities among children with disabilities.
Zeinab Khodaverdi, Abbas Bahram, Hassan Khalaji, Anoshirvan Kazemnejad, Farhad Ghadiri, and Wesley O’Brien
This paper aimed to investigate different dimensions of motor competence (MC) by using four commonly administered MC assessment tools (Test of Gross Motor Development-3, Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-2 Short Form, Körperkoordinationtest Für Kinder, and Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2) in a sample of 184 girls (M age = 8.61 years; SD = 1.21 years). This is the first study of its kind to shed light on different dimensions of MC, identifying them through rigorous and robust statistical analysis. The Delphi method was used to select the dimensions of MC. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to assess whether the dimensions loaded onto the same construct (i.e., MC). Face and content validity identified three dimensions of MC: fundamental motor skills, gross motor coordination, and motor abilities. Confirmatory factor analysis indicated an adequate fit for the final MC model with three dimensions. In this model, fundamental motor skills, gross motor coordination, and motor abilities loaded on the MC construct. The data reported present a revised definition of holistic MC, which comprises the level of motor abilities (physical proficiency and perceptual motor abilities) as well as gross motor coordination and fundamental motor skills proficiency, which underlie the performance of a wide range of tasks, including fine and gross motor activities in daily life.
Wesley O’Brien, Tara Coppinger, Irene Hogan, Sarahjane Belton, Marie H. Murphy, Cormac Powell, and Catherine Woods
Background: The current study was the largest physical activity (PA) surveillance assessment of youth undertaken in Ireland in recent years. The purpose of this research was to assess the impact of social support, while controlling for age and screen time, on PA and sport participation, across a representative sample of Irish female youth. Methods: A total of 3503 children (mean age: 13.54 [2.05] y) across the island of Ireland participated. Participants completed a previously validated electronic questionnaire while supervised in a classroom setting, which investigated their (1) levels of PA; (2) screen time; (3) community sport participation; and (4) social support (friend, family, and teacher) to be physically active/partake in sport. Results: There were significant differences, with medium and large effect sizes, for social support from friends and family across types of sports participation. Specifically, girls who participated in the most popular team sports, when compared with the most popular individual sports, reported higher social support scores for friends and family structures. Conclusions: Findings from this study confirm the contributing influence of friends and family as sport and PA support networks for girls. Interventions should consider the importance of culturally relevant team sports for PA engagement in female youth.
Gavin Breslin, Tandy Haughey, Wesley O’Brien, Laura Caulfield, Alexa Robertson, and Martin Lawlor
The present study had three aims, to determine: (a) whether providing a curriculum-based mental health awareness program to athletes increased knowledge of mental health and intentions to offer support; (b) whether the program increased resilience and well-being compared to a control group; and (c) the feasibility of the program. A total of 100 participants (M age = 20.78; SD = 2.91; male = 59) either attended the program or were part of a control group. Participants completed questionnaires pre-, post-, and 3-months post-intervention, although there was a low participant return rate for the 3-month follow-up (n = 15). Participants were invited to take part in a focus group to explore program relevance. Knowledge of mental health and intentions to offer support increased for the intervention group, compared to the control. The program with some modification could be integrated into university sport courses to promote mental health awareness.