Pre-Event Education Programs for Athletes Who Compete in Wheelchairs

By Mangus, Brent C.; Busser, James A. | Palaestra, Summer 1994 | Go to article overview
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Pre-Event Education Programs for Athletes Who Compete in Wheelchairs

Mangus, Brent C., Busser, James A., Palaestra

Results of a study conducted at a major wheelchair athletic event suggested that athletes who compete in wheelchairs are missing recent information regarding necessary training practices for sports (Hedrick, Morse, & Figoni, 1988). The study also noted that information sources typically selected by these athletes did not contain the most recent scientific advances in training.

Different athletes who compete in wheelchairs look to information from a variety of resources. Although many resources selected are the same, there is a great deal of difference in order of preference in which they are selected by athletes. As pointed out be Hedrick and colleagues, training information sources for the men's open wheelchair class were prioritized as athletes, cycling magazines, Sports 'N Spokes, running magazines, conferences/workshops, coaching manuals, and scientific journals. Similarly, women athletes in the open wheelchair class prioritized their information sources as athletes, coaches, Sports 'N Spokes, conferences/workshops, running magazines, cycling magazines, scientific journals, and coaching manuals. When accessing written information, the athlete with quadriplegia initially turns to running magazines, followed by Sports 'N Spokes, talking to athletes, questioning coaches, reading cycling magazines, referring to coaching manuals, attending conferences/workshops, and finally, reading scientific journals.

Interestingly, use of the reliable sources of information (i.e., scientific journals) was the lowest in priority for all athletes looking for training information. This suggests need to supplement reliable training information to the athlete competing in a wheelchair. Therefore, it is suggested that a systematic pre-event education program designed to enhance disseminating information to these athletes be implemented. Improving an athlete's training knowledge should make positive contributions to performances of athletes who compete in wheelchairs.

Many sport competitions for able-bodied athletes incorporate pre-event education programs designed to inform athletes of recent advances in their sports. Pre-event education programs which include training, conditioning, nutrition, injury, and other information that athletes in wheelchairs may use have recently begun to emerge (e.g,. the Kaiser Roll in Minneapolis). Included among various accepted methods of disseminating information to an individual or group are various educational efforts. One forum for presenting such information is in conjunction with competitions themselves. Having a pre-event education program at major athletic events for athletes who compete in wheelchairs could be a part of an event director's planning.

The purpose of this article is to present the Educational Program Planning Process (EPPP) to event directors and other individuals involved in athletic competitions for athletes in wheelchairs to enable them to conduct pre-event education programs. Such programs will help present the latest information pertinent to such matters as training techniques, biomechanics, nutrition, sport injuries, physiology, ergogenic aids, and other input which could be utilized by athletes.


Planning Process

The EPPP is depicted in Figure 1 and consists of four stages: (a) needs assessment, (b) goals and objectives, (c) program organization, and (d) program evaluation. The feedback loop represents continuous use of relevant information to shape the education program during the planning process. In addition, feedback is utilized for future program development. The remainder of this article presents each stage in program planning along with an example of a sport injury education program to highlight the planning process.


Needs Assessment

Planning education programs is a process which begins with an assessment of participant needs (Edginton, Compton & Hanson, 1980; Carpenter & Howe, 1985; Russell, 1982).

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Pre-Event Education Programs for Athletes Who Compete in Wheelchairs


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