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Article Title

COACHES’ HEALTH AND WELL-BEING PERCEPTIONS: A QUALITATIVE, EXPLORATORY ANALYSIS

Abstract

Krista Kezbers1, Rachel Nichols1, Dana Thomas2 1University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center –Tulsa, School of Community Medicine, Tulsa, Oklahoma;3University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma

PURPOSE: Swim coaches, and more globally, sports coaches, are a unique occupational group. Little research has been done on direct determinants of health or health struggles of swim coaches. The purpose of this study was to explore the thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs related to health and well-being experienced within the context of the swim coaching occupation. METHODS: Swim coaches were recruited through e-mail and social media posts to participate in a 4-question online survey. Three demographic questions were asked as well as the following neutral, open-ended question, “What comes to mind when you think about the health and well-being of swim coaches?” Responses were analyzed via a three-person coding team using MAXQDA software and a rigorous, qualitative, exploratory data analysis procedure. Data were coded separately by each team member, all codes were merged into one document, and meetings were held to reconcile any remaining codes. Themes were created from the final code list and quotes were selected to best represent each theme. RESULTS: Two-hundred forty swim coaches (23-70 years old) answered the open-ended question. Many salient themes emerged from the data and final codes: 1) Beliefs, 2) Physical Coaching Environment, 3) Coaching Health/Fitness Spectrum, 4) Lifestyle Medicine Components, and 5) Work/Life Balance. Coaches mentioned their belief that they should be role models of good health for their athletes while also acknowledging it takes additional education to do so. Every component of Lifestyle Medicine was brought up: physical activity, nutrition, sleep, healthy relationships, stress, and substance use. Indoor air quality, outdoor sun exposure, pool deck surfaces, among other aspects of the physical coaching environment were said to have a negative effect on health. Coaches mentioned a wide spectrum of health experiences and a struggle to maintain balance between work demands and their personal life. CONCLUSIONS: Coaches have expressed a desire to learn ways to improve their health and well-being and are in need of health interventions and targeted programming. Prior to implementing interventions, a large-scale quantitative study should be conducted with coaches in various sports to determine levels and rates of occurrences of health and well-being metrics as well as lifestyle behaviors.

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