Perceptions of sport science relevance and application among South African coaches and athletes

  • Zarko Krkeljas
  • Raymund A. Tate
  • Nicol J. Vermeulen
  • Elmarie Terblanche
Keywords: Perceptions, Sport science, Coaches, Athletes, South Africa


The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of South African coaches and athletes of the relevance and usefulness of sport science on coaching methods and athletes’ performances. Twenty-two coaches (6 rugby; 3 cricket; 5 football; 3 hockey; 5 netball) and twenty-six athletes (5 rugby; 6 cricket; 6 football; 6 hockey; 3 netball) completed a questionnaire evaluating their knowledge, understanding, and the perceived usefulness of sport science. Almost 82% of coaches and 88% of athletes found sport science either “useful” or “very useful” in athletic training and performance. Coaches and athletes demonstrated similar views in areas of sport performance. Athletes considered scientific results/process less useful than coaches to their mental preparation or improving skills and processes. The common barriers to integration of sport science with practice were cost, language used in scientific literature and communication between sport scientists and coaches, as well as relevance of research topics. While the usefulness of sport science was acknowledged by both coaches and athletes, future coach development programmes should emphasise access to and correct use of sport science information. Sport science research should address the needs of the local sport and coaching community to ensure successful knowledge transfer.

Keywords: Perceptions; Sport science; Coaches; Athletes; South Africa


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 0379-9069