Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Conditioning Services in Elite Spanish Water Polo Clubs

Academic journal article Journal of Physical Education and Sport

Conditioning Services in Elite Spanish Water Polo Clubs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Traditionally, efforts to improve team sports performance often focus on technique and tactics at the expense of physical fitness (Stolen et al., 2005). However, physical conditioning can be effective for the improvement of speed in specific team sports skills (Gorostiaga et al., 1999; Newton et al., 1999; Gonzalez- Badillo et al., 2011). In addition, optimal physical preparation is necessary to delay fatigue during multiple sprint work (Glasiter, 2005; Spencer et al., 2005), prevent injuries (Wedderkopp et al., 1999; Caraffa et al., 1996), and maintain optimal levels of physical capacity during season (Bangsbo et al., 2006; Cardoso and Gonzalez- Badillo, 2006).

Current recognition of the importance of physical conditioning practices indicates that many teams have become aware of the need to hire the services of competent physical conditioning coaches (henceforth, PCCs) in an attempt to improve their training environment and contribute to the optimal development of the physical condition (Reverter-Masia et al., 2009) . In view of this, we hypothesized that one of the essential requirements that any PCC should meet was to be a degree holder in Sports Studies and Physical Education. In fact, specific sports training and playing experience probably required developing more specialised types of training. Like in all fields of knowledge, continuous scientific training through specialised courses, master's programmes and research in specialised journals are essential if the physical conditioning programmes are to be based on the practical application of scientific knowledge (Reverter-Masia et al., 2008).

In addition to the above, the importance of the training environment should not be underestimated, as it comprises several factors that were especially relevant in our research: (i) time needed to develop physical conditioning (availability of players and PCCs); (ii) access to essential and necessary training facilities, material and equipment (e.g. training facilities, strength and fitness evaluation equipment, recovery measures, etc.); (iii) travelling in optimal conditions; (iv) access to a multidisciplinary team of sports studies professionals which, besides fostering the players' maximum performance, enables a PCC to concentrate solely on his/her job; as a consequence of the above, (v) the PCC may feel appreciation for his/her work (Reverter-Masia et al., 2008).

Despite existing research on some aspects of conditioning practices and PCC profiles in National Baseball Leagues (Ebben et al., 2005; Sutherland and Wiley, 1997), American football (Ebben and Blackard, 2001; Sutherland and Wiley, 1997), basketball (Simenz et al., 2005; Sutherland and Wiley, 1997), ice hockey (Ebben et al., 2004; Sutherland and Wiley, 1997), handball, volleyball, indoor soccer, soccer and field hockey (Reverter-Masia et al., 2009), no studies focused on water polo teams. The purpose of this research was to determine the differences in physical conditioning coaches' profiles and training environments in male and female high-ranking Spanish water polo clubs.

Methods

Participants

The survey was conducted among those responsible for physical conditioning programmes of male and female teams who had participated in the National (Spanish) top division water polo league during the 2009/10 season. Twenty-two coaches out of the 24 approached agreed to collaborate in the study (Table I).

For this study, the teams were divided into "Group A" (henceforth, group A team), which included the highest performing teams of their respective leagues (> 50% percentile of the ranking), and "Group B" (henceforth, group B team), which included the remaining teams.

Survey

The survey was adapted for this application based on the Reverter-Masia et al. (2008) survey and focused on two lines of inquiry: (a) PCC profiles: academic level, assessed through their habit of reading specialised journals and their specific sports experience; (b) training environment: affiliation to a multidisciplinary team of Sports Studies professionals, duties performed by the PCC, his/her level of attendance to training sessions and competitions, work environment deficiencies, evaluation of the level of recognition that the PCC received for his/her job. …

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