An investigation into factors associated with low performance in sprints by male Kenya athletes in international competitions
This study was carried out to investigate the factors that are associated with low performance in sprints by male Kenyan athletes in international competitions. The investigated variables were the applied knowledge by Kenya coaches in the science of coaching and conditioning in sprints, preparation of sprinters before targeted international competitions, training methods, training facilities and equipment, tapping and development of sprints talents at the crucial stages of human development, and selection of national team to represent the nation in international competitions. Target population in this study was required to have comprehensive understanding of the athletics performance in order to provide observations based on their practical experiences, extended observation and reflections of the previous performances. Forty (40) coaches, and eighty (80) elite athletes constituted the sample in this study. A combined methodological approach was used to sample these respondents, (Warwick, 1983, pg.275-277). Stratified, quota, purposive and snowball methods of sampling were used in this study (Babbie, 1975,pp.202-203). The research instruments in this study were, the questionnaires, interviews and participant observations. Coaches and athletes filled the questionnares and participated in the interviews. The direct observations method used in the visited facility sites and residential training venues selected for the national team, to verify training facilities and equipment. The data collected was presented according to investigated variables and observed frequencies were presented in raw data form. Three descriptive models were used together with the observed frequencies, to draw conclusion in this study. The three models used are; (a) Sprints talents development model, (Dick, 1980,and Gleeson, 1986). (b) Weight training regiments model, (Gallon, 1986). (c) Pyramid of training model, (Steben and Bell, 1978). The design adopted by this study was ex post factor research design. The findings of the study were that; (i) Main factors that have contributed to poor performance in sprints are poor coaching methods and lack of exposure of sprinters in elite competitions. (ii) Other factors are faulty sprints training methods, under utility of available relevant facilities and equipment, and tapping of sprints talents. However, the study noted that selection of athletes and coaches in the national team is on merit. It was also noted that training conditions, motivation and career had significant influence on the athlete’s success in international competitions. Based on findings of this study, the following recommendations are suggested. (a) Potential talents in sprints should be accorded opportunities for overseas exposure in training, coaching and elite competitions like their middle and long distance runners. (b) Kenya coaches should be exposed to modern training and coaching methods in sprints. (c) Public training facilities should be equipped with adequate and diversified weight training and performance analysis equipment. (d) Educational institutions in Kenya and particularly the universities should review physical Education curriculum and orient it towards tapping and developing athletic talents in this country.