Physical conditioning for football: an analysis of professional coaches' knowledge, understanding and practical application
University of Wales Institute, Cardiff
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This study examines the theoretical knowledge and understanding and the practical application of physical conditioning of Premier League and Championship fitness coaches in relation to four pertinent areas. The focus of the current study was first to establish the scientific knowledge and understanding of physical conditioning, and second to investigate the practical application of this knowledge in a football environment. The key areas examined were a) the coach's ability to analyse and subsequently employ information relating to the demands of the game, b) the coach's knowledge, understanding and practical application of fitness testing and monitoring, c) the coach's knowledge, understanding and practical application of various methods of training to development fitness, and d) the coach's knowledge, understanding and practical application of periodisation. Fifteen fitness coaches completed a questionnaire, ten of these agreed to undertake a telephone interview using a semi-structured technique. Nine subjects were male and one female. Five coaches were employed at a Premier League club and the remaining five were employed at a Championship club. Inductive content analysis was adopted to analyse the findings, resulting in second, third and fourth order themes for each significant area. Specifically, these coaches demonstrated no difference in their theoretical knowledge and understanding of the four salient elements, although differences were evident between the levels in their practical applications. Premier League coaches demonstrated greater knowledge and understanding of high technology equipment and the subsequent use of the information, whereas Championship coaches illustrated knowledge and understanding of low technology equipment. Premier League coaches applied adapted fitness tests and illustrated the ability to question the protocol of each test, while Championship coaches applied standard tests. Premier League and Championship coaches practically applied the theory of fitness development differently, primarily determined by the facilities available. These coaches also identified that periodisation does occur although, Premier League coaches focus on individual training while Championship coaches work in squad group environments. Subsequent research studies are recommended to identify how this knowledge, understanding and practical application differs between sports and between the levels of different sports.
MSc Sports Coaching
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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