Not performing any exercise could produce a negative impact on the body. In fact, it could causes obesity, hypertension, diabetes, back pain, poor joint mobility and psychosocial problems (Kiess W, Galler A.2001), Physical inactivity is one of the modern day challenge that the western society is facing (Chief Medical Officer , 2004). A clear example of this challenge is the issue that the United States is facing, as the rate of childhood obesity is predicted to reach 40% within the next 20 years and Type 2 diabetes is expected to affect 300 million people worldwide within the same time (Kopelman PG.
, 2000). It also has been found that exercise reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and some cancers (Batty D, Lee IM., 2004). Anything that refers to movement produced by skeletal muscles that results in energy expenditure it is classified as exercise. (Sallis JF, Owen N 1999).
In fact, according to the of health department individuals should exercise five times a week for 30 minutes, this because training for at least 30 minutes daily, helps the body to receive acute physical and mental benefits such as better respiration better overall fitness and smoother movements at the joints due to the high release of synovial fluid.
Exercise also helps the concentration, as it increases attention and decreases stress due the secretion of endorphins responsible for generating a state of good mood. In support of this according to the health department during the 30 minutes sessions people should aim to burn 200 calories or more, by exercising at a moderate intensity. Exercise have also chronic benefits especially on the musculoskeletal system, for example constantly exercising for two years can have effects especially on the musculoskeletal system, for example muscles and bones become stronger therefore, the chances to get injured decreases also, improves posture and helps to maintain or increase the flexibility. As previously mentioned, exercise can also affect the overall fitness as it boosts the immune system.
In order to counter the inactivity, the UK government has set a target to push at least the 70% of the population to make them exercise at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week by 2020. (Department of Culture Media and Sports Strategy Unit, 2002). At the moment only 37% of men and 24% of women currently meet this criteria (Allender S, Peto V, Scarborough P, et al., 2006). Papers show that sport and physical activity is not purely a social issue it also a political and health policy matter. Therefore it essential to find efficient ways to increase sport participation increased interest in physical activity is welcome, but the trend data hints that current interventions
In order to understand how sport played at different level can be beneficial it is important to understand what sport is. “Incorporated into the definition of ‘sport’ are all forms of physical activity that contribute to physical fitness, mental well-being and social interaction. These include: play; recreation; organized, casual or competitive sport; and indigenous sports or games.”
There are thoughts on why individuals that take part in sports at a competitive level or at a recreational level and the different barriers encountered within the volleyball teams at university. There are multiple reasons why individuals play volleyball at different levels. Players understand the importance of physical activities. There are plenty of universities that support and encourage students to take part in recreational sports activities during their time at university and often provide a wide range of sporting all levels and types of participant needs. Universities often encourage participation in other physical recreational activities by students who are not interested in sporting activities. For example, St Mary’s university explicitly endorse students who do not already regularly take part in physical exercise outside of university to participate in physical recreational activities by creating non- intimidating environment.
There are multiple reasons why individual decide to compete in sport rather than just have fun while practising. However, often people that decide to play at a recreational level are not seen as individuals capable to compete at high standards ignoring the fact that an individual could be exercising at a recreational level for other factors other than talent.
Often, competitive players are thought from young age that training hard and constantly will make the difference between winning or losing. Ignoring the fun aspect of it.
There are several external factors that differentiate a competitive volleyball player form a recreational one. One of these is the amount of support that a competitive player receives. In fact, a competitive player can count on the help from a sport psychologist in order to remain focus on gaining a positive outcome from a competition. According to researches the role of a sport psychologist is becoming an essential component within the life of an athlete. In fact, has been found that there is a high correlation between what a sport psychologist can offer and the multiple psychological effects that factors such as injuries, anxiety, depression and others may cause. (Thelwell, R. C., Wood, J., Harwood, C., Woolway, T., & van Raalte, J. L. 2018). These issues are known for having a negative impact on the athlete performance; for this reason, intervention is becoming increasingly relevant in order to ensure the maximum efficiency of an athlete. Therefore, having sport psychologist within the team especially at competitive level where the number of stressors and the risk of injuries are more elevated. (Ghildiyal, R. 2015).
It has also been recognised that everyone has different physiological and psychological responses to determined situation or stimuli. However, there are other in fact, being able to manage stress played a big role. The combine work between Sport psychologists and coaches is fundamental to release stress especially at high levels or when there is an important goal to achieve (Borkoles, E., Kaiseler, M., Evans, A., Ski, C. F., Thompson, D. R., & Polman, R. C. J. 2018). In fact, they both have the common goal to adopt a suitable method for athletes, according to their different personality and their different ways to respond to a situation. For instance, athletes with a low self-awareness can generally experience internal types of stress such as doubting their abilities. Moen, F., Wells, A., & Firing, K. (2016). Rather than athletes that can experience stress such as worrying about external factors. Therefore, having an expert capable to identify the origin of the problem in short term could make the difference between winning and losing a competition or an event. (Lundgren, L., Brorsson, S., Hilliges, M., Osvalder, A. et al. 2011).. The purpose of this study is to identify the reasons and the psychological aspects behind the selection of a particular level within a sport. Specifically, the study will look at why individuals choose to exercise at a recreational level rather than at a competitive level and vice-versa.
This study involved 6 individuals of which 3 play for the main volleyball team at a competitive level for the university, and 3 play at recreational level for the second volleyball team of university. The participants will be recruited from the volleyball team at St Mary’ s university Of age between 18 and 40, from both gender the included participants are going to be St Mary’s University students. In this way the will also eligible of the study as they will be over 18. Complying with the purpose of the study. The study will have a qualitative approach as it follows a relativist disposition; therefore, the epistemological approach was to collect information through experience. participants accepted to take part the semi-structured interviews within the university campus and in the private rooms in the library. Interviews were recorded and then transcribed. All transcripts were deeply analysed in order to find feelings and emotions and the effects that they have regarding the topic.
As previously mentioned the research followed a qualitative methodology as the aim of the study was to gain an understanding of the underlying opinions and provide an insight into barriers of participation of sport at different level. This methodology was used to explore thoughts and emotions within both, competitive and recreational volleyball at university. The utilised method in a qualitative data collection placed the main focus upon semi-structured interviews. In fact, if a research psychological research uses a quantitative approach, there would be a lack of responsiveness due to the fact that a quantitative does not have the ability to interpret feelings and emotions.
Therefore, a qualitative approach is required which is sensitive to the contextual, social, economic and cultural factors which influence participation in physical activity (Holm K, Li S, Spector N, et al. 2001) Qualitative methods offer this in-depth insight into individuals’ experiences and perceptions of the motives and barriers to participation in sport and physical activity (Thomas JR, Nelson JK, Silverman SJ., 2005) and are recognized as increasingly important in developing the evidence base for public health . Although qualitative research is a blanket term for a wide range of approaches, this type of research typically aims to understand the meaning of individual experience within social context. The data for qualitative studies often comes from
repeated interviews or focus groups, are generally more in-depth and have fewer participants than quantitative research. Additionally, the inductive nature of qualitative research allows for theory to emerge from the lived experiences of research participants rather than the pre-determined hypotheses testing of quantitative approaches.
According to Thomas and Nelson (1996) describe qualitative methods as an innovative and powerful tool in sport and physical activity qualitative research. Often the methods used in a qualitative data collection place the attention on a sequence of semi-structured interviews and second interviews. In this research only the semi-structured method was applied. An intake interview is made up by of open end questions, allowing communication and conversation to flow, permitting the athlete to open up on previous experiences, Unconsciously taking lead of the interview, allowing flexibility throughout discussion. This is a good method as the client is less under pressure, and more comfortable to open up, providing the psychologist with a more in depth insight of the areas of development. There are various characteristics that steer an effective interview, such as, location, relaxed environment, confidentiality, and timing between questions and when to ask certain things, showing interest will allow client to become more comfortable, amongst others. Interviews allow clients the opportunity to express themselves in their own words, openly and detailed, however there is a common drift of conversation to topics not of interest to the discussion, therefore certain questions are asked to pull the conversation back on track.
In regard to ethical considerations, all participants were provided with Information sheets defining the purpose and aim of the study. A signed form consent will be given prior to the study. Every participant will have the right to be anonymous during and after the study. All data collected during the study will be protected in line with the Data Protection Act (1998) guidelines. The number of people that are able to access the data will be t restricted to supervisor and myself. The data will be stored in a computer whit a protected password. Lastly participants have the right to complain to the supervisor at any point during the study. Subjects were informed of the research that was taking place and were aware of what personal information would be used, prior to the beginning of the study. Other elements such as; how long the interview would last, potential psychological and social outcomes, and the right to withdraw at any time, were offered.
From the study emerged that body shape, pressure from society and weight management were few of the reasons for the participation in physical activities. A number of studies (Cockburn C, Clarke G.,2002) reported pressure to conform to popular ideals of beauty as important reasons for girls being physically active (Flintoff A, Scraton S.,2001).
Marxism played a fundamental role in order to shape the western society and how women are viewed in sports. The last two decades have been extremely important for women in order to achieve a respected role within sport (Carter, J. A., Masi de Casanova, E., Maume, D. J., 2015), especially due to the fact that the modern-day society it is considered a patriarchal society woman have difficulties to be treated fairly. This is also since within society there is the strong belief that sports where contact is allowed should only be practised by men. (Scott & Marshall, 2009).
Marx believes that capitalists are the ones who get to decide what is allowed. (Thorpe, H., Toffoletti, K., & Bruce, T., 2001). The male gender is the one who dictates rules within the sport industry. This finds confirmation since women needed to emerge by creating a movement, feminism. (Hughes & Coakley, 1991) Feminism has been a strong element in the modern-day society. In fact, in the modern society there is what is called the third wave of feminism. Which is based on reinforcing the equality between genders by ensuring a respectable role for women within society. (Thorpe, H., Toffoletti, K., & Bruce, T., 2001).
“So would you say though you started to exercise because of your parents. No not at all because of society is very focused on health and fitness nowadays. So you didn’t do it for yourself. I did it because of society but also for myself as well. So good. There is pressure from society nowadays to be healthy.” – Sara.
Another factor that emerged from the interviews was the fact that most of the subjects come from different countries and regardless of their level of volleyball they kept playing it even once the move was completed. As they strongly believe that volleyball helped them to maintain participation (Coakley J, White A.,1992). For girls, having peers to share their active time with was important, and the general level of the country can have a huge influence in determine the choice of playing at a recreational level or competitive level.
“When did you move to London in September. How did you find it. I really liked it . Yeah. OK. How do you feel when you restarted playing volleyball. How do you feel. Well I think about the level in this country. I feel like I’m I’m not the worst player on the team which I like to think. I wouldn’t say it was the worst since Switzerland. I wasn’t one of the better ones. Here I think I’m more average so I like that and I feel more of what’s it called. Confidence in my playing skills.” – Katia.
Another factor that was possible to identify through the interview was how individuals decided to play volleyball at a recreational level not because of a lack of talent but solely for a lack of time.
“Yeah. So obviously the the the main thing is that I can’t commit to it handlebar sense. I want to and I tried to. Like for example if you see all the people we have two training sessions on early morning Tuesday morning and Thursday evening it’s all the people then there for socializing. I always had something to do either work or I was studying but because obviously I have nothing to do with Thursday early morning. Apart from sleeping I always meant to do early mornings because I went there to play. That was the time that I could actually just you know be engaged do it and I didn’t go for the for socializing.”
However, as I previously mentioned in order to exploit women in sport, media is often used. Through media it is possible to influence a large quantity of people. (Hughes & Coakley, 1991). According to Weber, J. D., & Carini, R. M. (2013), media covered 4.9 more to women sports. Media uses motivational adverts such as “this woman can”, in order to encourage women to participate in sport and to inform society that having women competing in sport should not be considered as wrong. This goes in support of the previously mentioned Marxism as media are the one in power and decide what should be accepted as normality. (Hughes & Coakley, 1991). In fact, within the sporting environment women are often sexualised, therefore exploited to increase audience especially in sporting events where the majority are men. This find support in this quotation “The reclamation of signs of femininity as empowering” (Cocca, 2014, p. 98). This quotation has the purpose to communicate the extreme need to unite groups within society that have different beliefs in regards of how women should be treated. This feminist concept which was originally created with social purposes, could be projected into the sport environment as according to Maguire, J. (2014) sport is the reflection of the society that we are living in.
In support of this Molnar and Kelly (2013) identified three main factors that has a major impact on culture within the Western societies. In fact, according to these beliefs women cannot participating due to biological, aesthetic and sociological factors. Scientific studies revealed that generally there is a discrepancy in physical attributes between men and women, which show that women are less powerful and not strong as men. These physiological differences are due to a gender dimorphism caused by the combination of metabolism and hormones responsible for the muscle growth, testosterone for men and oestrogen for women. (Zymbal, V., Janz, K. F., & Baptista, F. 2017; 2016).
The fact that biologically women are weaker than men reinforced the belief that women were not suitable for sports. In Fact, in case of injuries women are not expected to carry on playing, because of this social belief that women are weak and fragile. (Miles, S. 2014). These could generate alienation from the sport played by the woman, because those in power in this case media separate the athlete from the individual. (Thorpe, H., Toffoletti, K., & Bruce, T., 2001).
The enjoyment and social networks offered by sport and physical activity are very important factors for participating at a recreational level for many different groups of people aged between 18 and 27 years. motivated by the health benefits of running and the increased status afforded to them by non-exercisers who saw them as fit and healthy.
Strengths and Limitations
By using semi-structured interviews, it was easier to elaborate thoughts and theories. Therefore, a better understand of the topic was gained. However,
By using a limited number of participants (6), this study cannot be a representation of attitudes and perceptions of university female volleyball players, and also the fact that the interviewed subjects were only females did not help to analyse males points of view.
The fact that only the players from the volleyball players from the university team contributed to this research, influenced findings and it made them less reliable as other universities around England may have differing or contradictory arguments.
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