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How somatotype affects athletic performance in various sports

1. Describe the typical anatomical features of successful athletes in 3 different sports, and evaluate how the typical physical features of a somatotype might give an athlete an advantage over other competitors in this sport. Consideration should be given to occupational health and weight or non-weight bearing activities. To what degree do these anatomical features influence the athlete’s final performance? 

2. Describe how biomechanical knowledge can contribute to physical performance? Give one example where biomechanical factors contribute to improving an athlete’s performance. 

3. Describe how motor learning knowledge can contribute to physical performance? Give one example where motor learning factors contribute to improving an athlete’s performance. 

4. Describe Psychological Skills Training (PST) and evaluate how it can be utilised to improve an athlete’s performance. 

5. Describe the differences between an average adolescent athlete’s physical attributes and capacities and an average adult athlete’s physical attributes and capacities (either gender) with consideration to diversity.

1. One of the reasons behind success in athletics is body morphology. A lot of athletes have failed to show impressive performance despite getting the best training, owing to poor body anatomy. Physical features play a very significant role in the performance of an athlete. Therefore, as much as it might be said to be a natural attribute, a lot can still be done to ensure that an athlete posses a suitable anatomy for the kind of sporting activity to be engaged in (Santos del Rey, Alburquerque, Martin-Vallejo, Carretero, Blanco, Vazquez & Sanchez, 2016). Meaning, for an athlete to succeed, they need to have the right weight, power, limb length, speed, endurance, somatype, body fat, and flexibility in line with the sporting activity performed.

For a marathon runner to excel, these attributes are necessary: light body, high calf muscles, lean body, slim legs, small medium height, and mesomorph body structure. These are essential attributes because they can enable the athlete to have an ability to optimize their oxygen intake especially when performing strenuous aerobic activities. These attributes can also enable an athlete to develop strong muscles for the storage of glycogen and withstand any dehydration that might be experienced in the course of a marathon even. Mesomorphic anatomy can also play a significant role in empowering the athlete to obtain muscle strength with ease (Gréhaigne & Godbout, 2014). At the same time, it can allow the athlete to lose/gain weight or maintain a low body fat at all times.

To succeed as a weightlifter, one should be short in height, have short legs, wide hips, short arms, large shoulders, and possess an endomorphic body structure. This is the typical anatomic structure of an ideal weightlifter. It can enable the weightlifter to be effective in the sport and be able to have more twitch fibers and manage to withstand abrupt and continuous changes in the blood pressure. Endomorph anatomy is appropriate for a weightlifter because it equips them with large lung capacity and increased muscle mass for effective weight loss and weight gain whenever necessary (Piscitelli, Milanese & Zancanaro, 2014).  Such a body anatomy can make an athlete to be suitable for weightlifting because it is a powerful and energy consuming game that requires endomorphs.

How biomechanics knowledge can contribute to improving physical performance

On the other hand, a rugby player requires having an endomorph anatomy characterized by wide shoulders, large body mass, and a lot of body fat, wide hips, short lags and short arms.  These are essential attributes that can enable one to be a great rugby player. They are important because rugby is an energy-intensive game that requires strong players who have the right vision, height, weight, body fat, hips and arm size (Nicholls, Jones & Jenkins, 2013). For example, ability to gain and lose weight easily is appropriate for a rugby player. It can help in making adjustments whenever one feels it necessary to do so in response to the needs of the sporting activity.

2. Human biomechanics means a study of the effects of external and internal forces on the body of the human being. It is closely linked to Kinesiology that mainly specializes in the study of mechanical, psychological and physiological rules governing the movement of living things. Sports biomechanics, on the other hand, is a branch of biomechanics that exclusively deals in the analysis and study of sporting activities. This shows that sports biomechanics is a very important concept in athletics (Preatoni, Hamill, Harrison, Hayes, Van Emmerik, Wilson & Rodano, 2013). If applied in ethics, it can help in applying the principles of measurement, computer simulation and mathematical modeling in learning much about the athletic performance, as well as the functioning and structure of the biological systems.  

The knowledge of biomechanics is very important because it can greatly impact on physical exercises. Its relationship with sport is noticed when it recognizes sport as a fun, competitive, and organized activity which needs determination, ability, fair play, skills and strategy. If properly utilized, the knowledge can imminently contribute to the improvement of performance of athletes. The first major benefit of biomechanics in athletics is that it can equip an athlete with fundamental skills in making rational decisions. An athlete who has a sound knowledge of the body mechanics can be empowered to understand different aspects of athletics. Athletics is a complex sport that requires one to be seriously informed.

Through biomechanics, an athlete can get to learn about many things. For example, biomechanics can give an athlete an opportunity to master different training cues that apply to each game. As a result of this, an athlete can get to know why certain activities occur or should be done. This can be helpful because it expands their knowledge and enables them to analyse the situation before making a reasonable conclusion on how to perform and improve on the acquired skills. It can benefit athletes participating in all games such as marathon, football or basketball. In each of these disciplines, an athlete needs to acquire and develop certain skills to succeed. However, without sports biomechanics, no athlete can manage to do so.    

How motor learning knowledge can contribute to physical performance

Apart from benefiting the athletes, biomechanical knowledge can help the coaches and PE teachers to learn much about athletics. Given the complex nature of coaching, it is recommended for each coach to master biomechanical skills such as movement, motion analysis, electromyography, levers, agility, simulation, gait, speed, and balance. These are important biomechanical skills that can give an insight on exactly what kind of training to give an athlete so as to improve their performance (Fleisig, Laughlin, Aune, Cain, Dugas & Andrews, 2016). Performance improvement is a key element of athletics that can be attained if athletes are trained by coaches who are well-versed with knowledge on muscle performance and mental training capabilities. For example, a coach who uses biomechanical knowledge can offer appropriate training on the marathon runners on important skills such as the adjustment and maintenance of emotions. Similar knowledge can help in providing better training equipments and preventing the athletes from injuries that might be experienced due to poor athletic skills. 

3. Motor learning refers to the study of the activities that are performed with the aim of improving and acquiring skills. Human being is a creature that learns from the immediate surroundings, acquires new knowledge and makes efforts to refine the same. Motor learning is an important process that can yield fruitful results if applied in sports coaching. Coaches can rely on motor learning to learn much about the complex changes that occur in the athletes’ mental system as a result of the changes of experiences in the central nervous system (Logan, Robinso, Wilson & Lucas, 2012). From this introduction, it can be evident that motor learning is a very important activity that should be carried out in athletics. It can help in improving the performance of athletics in many ways.

First and foremost, motor learning can play a significant role in imparting the coaches and Physical Education (PE) teaches on the athletes’ skills. By having a deeper understanding of the motor skills of the athletes, the coach can be empowered to make accurate guess on the most appropriate strategies to apply in the training of the athletes. A proper knowledge of training methodologies is important because it can help in coming up with individual based training methods to address the needs of each athlete (Davids, Araújo, Hristovski, Passos & Chow, 2012). An informed coach can make important decision on what skills to offer to the athlete because of the strong connections between the motor skills and sports training strategies.

Using Psychological Skills Training to improve performance in athletics

The other reason why motor learning is important is that it can help in enhancing the performance of the athlete. By learning about the sophisticated motor skills, an athlete can get to know about the strengths and inefficiencies. This can be a major milestone in the identification of the most appropriate measure to take to improve the performance (Tamminen & Holt, 2012). Motor learning provides scientific information that the athletes require to convert into real practice. For this reason, it is recommended that all athletes and coaches should be equipped with motor knowledge. Each sporting activity has got its own uniqueness. Therefore, to address this, it is important to acquire a basic scientific knowledge whenever necessary. This can be a better way of improving performance in whichever athletic competition one engages in.

One area in which the knowledge of motor skills can be applicable is rugby. For one to excel in this game, one requires to acquire certain motor skills. Those who possess the right motor skill can move To make it a success, motor learning should be done by following the right procedure. Meaning, the learning should undergo the cognitive, associative and autonomous stages. During the cognitive stage, one should outline the overall comprehension of the skill by setting up the objectives and start learning about it in a well organized manner. In the associated stage, the athlete needs to develop and refine the learnt skills as time goes by. This can mainly be achieved if the athlete gets used to the stimuli and learn to appropriately respond to it (Davids, Araújo, Hristovski, Passos & Chow, 2012). During the last stage, the athlete automates the learnt motor skill. Meaning, response is automatically elicited once the stimuli are detected. This is the stage when a rugby player now learns how to perfect the game by improving skills as he familiarizes with the game. Nevertheless, the entire process should be flexible in response to individual needs.

4. Psychological Skills Training (PST) refers to a consistent and systematic mental practice skill.  PST is a designed to suit individual needs depending on the sport and psychological needs for each person. There are different PSY methods that can be applied in athletics. If properly applied, PST methods can help an athlete to acquire psychological skills such as concentration, and confidence. These are some of the most important psychological skills that can enable an athlete to excel.

Differences between adolescent and adult athlete physical attributes and capacities

It is recommended that sports psychologists should always be ready to apply the principles of PST in the training of athletes. There are a large number of benefits that can accrue to an athlete who undergoes PST. Its most important benefit is that PST can help in improving the performance of an athlete. When athlete an athlete is properly trained, an athlete can get to learn important psychological skills that can help them to succeed in athletics. PST equips athletes with emotional skills that can prepare them to overcome challenges faced as well as prepare them to be emotionally-strong (Goyal, Singh, Sibinga, Gould, Rowland-Seymour, Sharma & Ranasinghe, 2014). Over the years, many athletes have been failing to perform well as a result of emotional distress. However, all these can be eliminated if an athlete successfully undergoes PST to learn much about self-confidence, stress and anxiety control. Psychological factors should not be neglected because they can make a well-trained athlete to demonstrate dismal performance. 

Nevertheless, to enjoy the benefits of PST, the training should be properly utilized. The first thing to do is to ensure than an appropriate training method is adopted. When necessary, the sports psychologist should ensure that the entire PST should be introduced to the athletes during the off season, at least 3 days per week with each session lasting for around 10 minutes (Tamminen & Holt, 2012). When doing this, the coach needs to discuss about it with the athletes, assess the metal skills of the athletes, identify appropriate psychological skills for the athlete, design the schedule and then evaluate its success. 

One of the measures to take during PST is to consider during PST training is to ensure that it is done following the right procedure. Basically, PST is not an incident, but a process organized into three main phases: educational, acquisition and practice phases. During the education phase, time is created to learn, develop and refine important psychological skills that an athlete requires for guidance on day-to-day basis. Acquisition is the second phase that involves the laying out of strategies to be adopted while training an athlete (Camiré & Trudel, 2014). To be effective, the acquisition process should be tailored towards fulfilling needs for each individual athlete. In the third phase, the acquired psychological skills should be transferred into practice. This can be achieved by making these skills automatic.

The other important aspect of PST is goal setting. Just like any other activity, PST should be an objective initiative undertaken for a purpose of accomplishing desired goals. The coach should assist the athlete to set realist, achievable and time-bound goals that can help in the acquisition of mental and psychological skills that are required to improve the performance of the athlete (Glynn, Gilbert & Lewis, 2013). For the goals to be fruitful, they should seek to address all the issues affecting the athlete’s psychology. This is the only way the training can lead to the overall improvement of the performance, boosting of self-confidence, coping skills, management of stress, enhancement of concentration, and development of a positive attitude towards the game.  

5. Indeed, the phrase ‘children are not mini adults’ is quite applicable in sports coaching. All professional coaches, physical educators and exercise scientists need to know that children and adults have a lot of differences in their physical capabilities and attributes. Unlike adults, children are immature because they are still undergoing the growth and development process. Children have not developed muscles and body weight to enable them performs certain intensive athletic activities as compared to their elderly counterparts. This justifies why children cannot perform like adult athletes who have fully undergone the physical and mental development (Price & Weiss, 2013). For a coach to effectively train adults and younger athletes, a coach requires to design different trainings for each of them.

When coaching children and adolescent athletes, the coach should adopt an individual approach. Meaning, all the training activities should be tailored towards fulfilling individual needs. The conditions of young athlete means that each of them have special needs, capabilities, weaknesses, strengths, attitudes and interests that are unique to every one of them. Therefore, to meet these needs, the coach should ensure that a flexible training design is adopted to address all the needs. The coach must understand the variations in the growth and development of girls and boys and address it as expected (Allan & Côté, 2016). So, the coach should always be keen on scheduling meetings with each individual young athlete to engage in a discussion, monitor progress, set goals and agree on major issues of concern. However, this strategy is not necessary for the adult athletes who are mature enough and can be trained without necessarily individualizing the entire process. 

The training for the young athletes should focus on athleticism. This simply implies that the coaches responsible for training young athletes should not focus on wins. Instead, they should prioritize the provision of long-term skills aimed at encouraging the athletes to develop interests in athletics, practice and nurture their skills as they grow up. It can help in making athletics to be enjoyable for the adolescents who are still preparing to be elite athletes as they grow up Saville & Bray, 2016). This differs from the adult athletes whose training should be focused on immediate wins. Unlike the adults, young athletes should be nurtured on the principles of athleticism because they still need to learn important skills such as endurance, flexibility, speed, strength and technique.  

The training of the adult athletes should assume a different approach from that of the adults. Although the training should be tailored towards satisfying the needs of the male and female athletes, the athlete should not fail to consider important factors such as sport movement, sport strength and sport balance. These are the major pillars that should be put into account when delivering coaching to young athletes. They help in accounting for important skills like agility, muscular strength, transitional balance, coordination, explosive power, speed, multidirectional, deceleration, multi-joint strength, neuromuscular pathways, external reaction, explosive power, internal reactivity, acceleration, recovery efficiency, and stability (Gaudreau, Morinville, Gareau, Verner-Filion, Green-Demers & Franche, 2016). The designing of a training program that capture these pillars is not only essential in improving athleticism, but also useful in enhancing fitness, and motivates athletes to actively participate in sporting activity.


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