Concussion Knowledge and Communication Behaviors of Collegiate Wrestling Coaches

Health Commun. 2017 Aug;32(8):963-969. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2016.1196417. Epub 2016 Jul 27.


Sport coaches can play an important role in shaping a team's approach to concussion safety through their communication with team members. However, across all sports, there is limited knowledge about factors that make coaches more or less likely to engage in safety-supportive communication. The objectives of this study were to assess the concussion-related knowledge and attitudes of wrestling coaches, as well as the extent to which they engage in autonomy-supportive coaching practices, and to determine how these factors are related to communication with athletes in support of concussion safety. Data were collected through an online survey of head coaches of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) wrestling teams (n = 89, 40.5% response rate). On average, coaches answered five out of a possible nine knowledge questions correctly and were significantly more likely to think it was acceptable for an athlete to continue playing after sustaining a concussion during a national qualifying competition as compared to during an early-season competition. Engaging in autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors was the coach factor explaining the largest percentage of variability in communication. Findings suggest that while knowledge deficits and attitudes about the acceptability of continued play while symptomatic during more consequential competitive matches should be addressed in educational programming for collegiate wrestling coaches, these changes alone may not be a sufficient for adequately increasing concussion safety communication. Targeting more distal factors such as autonomy-supportive approaches to coaching may hold promise for intervention design and should be explored in future prospective research.

MeSH terms

  • Athletes / psychology
  • Brain Concussion / diagnosis
  • Brain Concussion / prevention & control*
  • Brain Concussion / therapy*
  • Health Communication*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mentoring / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Universities
  • Wrestling