Sun protection behaviour of junior cricketers and their coaches: an observational study

Dobbinson S, Doyle C, Effendi Y

CBRC Research Paper Series No. 14

The questions addressed by this study were:

  1. What is the overall status of sun protection behaviour among junior cricket players (under 14 years of age, male) and their coaches?
  2. Do teams with sun protection policies have better sun protection behaviour than teams without sun protection policies?

Observations of cricket players’ and their coaches’ sun protection behaviour were made during two consecutive weeks of cricket matches in mid-February 2000, during the peak of the Australian summer. In addition, coaches were interviewed about the provision for sun protection and policies at their cricket clubs.

Cricket matches were randomly selected from 116 scheduled 2 day matches: in total, 27 matches or 54 cricket teams were observed when sitting on the sidelines waiting to bat, and fielding, over two consecutive Saturday mornings of play. In the first week of observation a total of 280 players were observed while fielding and 288 players observed whilst batting or sitting on the sidelines waiting to bat. In the second week of play, 310 players were observed whilst fielding and 302 while batting or sitting on the sidelines waiting to bat. The sun protection behaviour of 108 coaches was also observed during the cricket matches. In addition, 32 coaches and 16 managers were interviewed about sun protection practices of the club.

Results indicated that there was limited use of shade by players and coaches. Fifty six percent of players did not have any shade available to them, and 80 percent of coaches did not have shade available. However, average total body cover was high, around 90% for players and 80% for coaches. Approximately two-thirds of players wore a peaked cap like a baseball or cricket helmet, leaving ears or neck exposed. Some players wore no hat at all (26% on sidelines, 17% fielding), while use of a broad-brimmed or legionnaire hat was relatively uncommon (7% on sidelines; 23% fielding). The most common leg covering worn by the players was full-length pants. The majority of players wore elbow length shirts. 97% of players did not wear sunglasses.

On average, coaches wore less clothing cover than players, but more coaches wore sunglasses. Of the coaches, 45% wore elbow length shirts. In contrast to junior cricket players, less protective styles of leg cover were commonly worn by the coaches.

Overall, approximately 50 percent or more of the clubs consistently endorsed the use of protective clothing. The exceptions were that the majority of clubs sold or provided baseball caps, whereas a very small proportion of clubs sold or provided legionnaire hats. Just under half of the clubs had hat-wearing regulations, and endorsed the hat-wearing regulations most of the time.

An overall score for SunSmart behaviour of clubs was composed by adding 'yes' responses to questions which reflected good sun protection practices. However, there was no correlation between total score on SunSmart questions and total body cover protection, partly due to the lack of variation in body cover by the players. There was a trend towards more players not wearing a hat in teams where there was no sun policy or no hat regulations. There was also a non-significant trend toward teams with higher percentages of the team wearing peaked caps among clubs that sold or provided baseball caps.

The following recommendations were made for cricket clubs as a result of this study:

  • encourage coaches to provide sun protective role models for junior players;
  • clubs should be encouraged to develop written sun protection policies with a view to improving standards for encouraging sun protection of members;
  • review of hat regulations, to include different types of hats;
  • provision or availability of broad brimmed or legionnaire style hats rather than peak caps, for both coaches and players;
  • promotion of the use of sunglasses by players as well as coaches.
Updated: 14 Jan, 2013