Coach Awareness, Knowledge and Practice in Relation to Growth and Maturation, and Training Load in Competitive, Young Gymnasts

Tejal Sarika Patel, Alex McGregor, Louise Fawcett, Sheree Bekker, Sean Williams, Karen Williams, Sean Cumming

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Growth-related and overuse injuries are commonly reported in young gymnasts. Two risk factors of these injuries are growth and maturation, and training load. However, little is known regarding current coaching knowledge and practice in relation to these risk factors. To help understand current knowledge and practice, 44 coaches of competitive, young gymnasts, from 3 gymnastics disciplines (men’s artistic, women’s artistic, trampoline) took part in focus groups. The focus groups explored the awareness, experience and practice of coaches in relation to growth and maturation, training load and injury in competitive, young gymnasts. Data were analysed manually using an inductive thematic approach to identify core themes. The findings showed that coaches were aware of the physical changes and injuries that occur during the adolescent growth spurt. Both psychological changes and skill loss/confusion were also identified as challenges during this time. The knowledge and practice of monitoring growth and maturation, and training load did however differ between disciplines. Sports science and medicine practitioners were recognised as key stakeholders in helping manage and reduce the risk of injuries during growth. There appears to be gap between coach knowledge of growth and maturation, and training load, and practices such as monitoring training load and growth. Educating coaches and further research in these areas will aid coaches in reducing the risk of injuries in young, competitive gymnasts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-543
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
Issue number3
Early online date10 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021


  • Artistic gymnastics, injury, trampolining, youth sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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