The perceived knowledge of the menstruation cycle and adjustment of swimming sets by swimming coaches based on menstrual-related issues
Background: Menstruation is the recurring discharge of the endometrial lining of the uterus as menstrual blood and tissue. The menstruation cycle affects most adolescent females and, although largely overlooked, affects women participating in sports.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether coaches were aware of their swimmers’ menstrual cycles and whether coaches considered this information when adjusting training sets.
Methods: Within the case study, a partial mixed-method, sequential dominant status approach was used. Data were collected in the form of questionnaires, focus group discussions, and one-on-one interviews. Coaches’ awareness of their female swimmers’ menstrual cycles was based more on observation than communication from the swimmer.
Results: Coaches explained that training is adjusted based on their observations, but whether this is being done correctly during the menstrual cycle requires more research. Swimmers and coaches alike seem to have minimal knowledge of menstruation, its effects on training, and how to adapt to, or overcome, those effects during training or competition.
Conclusion: In future, this knowledge could ensure the longevity of female swimmers in the sport. Understanding whether coaches and swimmers recognise the effect of the menstrual cycle within training and competition provides a more inclusive approach to ensure athlete longevity after puberty. This approach is grounded in creating an understanding between the swimmer and coach about the effect of menstruation during training and competition. It ensures an extended and more successful participation which may also assist in dealing with the ‘taboo’ surrounding menstruation and the female athlete.
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