Factors Affecting Performance
There are many factors affecting performance; however, we are concerned with physical training factors.
Coaching requires knowledge of what fitness is along with the various categories of fitness, and, most importantly, how to develop training protocols that address each type of fitness to improve one’s ability to perform.
One must be physically prepared to perform at any level to withstand the rigors of an activity to improve performance and decrease the risk of injury.
Both Health-Related and Skill-Related Fitness make up the sports and activity continuum. Athletes must have a foundation of all categories of musculoskeletal strength as well as cardiovascular endurance to support the various skill-related fitness components related to a sport.
Those engaging in general fitness programs must also train all categories of strength (please note that cardiovascular fitness is considered a category of strength).
Before each season, coaches perform various performance tests to determine each trainee’s level in all categories of fitness. These tests determine the areas of weakness so each trainee may augment training to eliminate any area of weakness or deficit to improve performance as well as decrease the risk of injury.
Many tests are specific to the sport or activity the athlete is involved in; however, there are various tests every trainee must be evaluated in to identify deficits in basic movements first before embarking on a more specialized training regimen.
This begs the question “What if the trainee has no formal training in various fitness categories but is expected to be tested nevertheless?”
Testing various components of fitness, as well as the sport-specific tests, gives the coach an overall snapshot of the trainee’s level of physical preparedness.
The ability of anyone to perform efficiently, effectively, and safely in a given sport or activity may be described in terms of three related factors (Verkhoshansky and Siff, 2009):
- Work Capacity
- Fitness (various categories)
Work capacity refers to the general ability of the body as a machine to produce work of different intensities and duration using the appropriate energy systems of the body.
Fitness refers to the specific ability to use this work capacity to execute a given task under particular conditions as well as perform physical activities with vigor and energy.
In general terms, fitness may also be defined as the ability to cope with the demands of a specific task efficiently and safely (see previous definitions of physical activity and physical fitness).
Preparedness, unlike fitness, is not stable but varies with time. It comprises two components, one which is slow-changing and the other which is fast changing (Zatsiorsky and Kraemer, 2006), where the slow changing component is fitness, and the fast-changing component is exercise-induced fatigue (fitness-fatigue model) (Verkhoshansky and Siff, 2009; Zatsiorsky an Kraemer, 2006).
It has been stated that the while the concept of fitness seems to be intuitively obvious and well accepted, coaches and trainers should distinguish between fitness and preparedness.
The term physical fitness refers to the functional state of the slow-changing physiological components relating to motor activity (learning functional human movements as previously stated).
One’s fitness state does not vary significantly over any period up to as much as several days in length, but one’s ability to express fitness at any instant may be substantially affected positively or negatively by mental state, sickness, fatigue, sleepiness and other fairly transient factors.
This ability, or instantaneous preparedness, is defined at any given instant and varies from moment to moment.
The following diagram from Stone, Stone, and Sands (2007) details an overview of the stressors that may contribute to overall performance in both fitness and performance training.
Base preparation or simply, preparedness, is the resultant of the interaction of the body’s long-term fitness increase stimulated by training and the opposing short-term fatigue after-effects of training, excluding the effects of any other modifying factors such as exaggerated mental state or illness.
Training or conditioning is the process whereby the body and mind are prepared to reach a certain level or work capacity and fitness. This involves five inter-dependent processes which determine The Sports Preparation Process (Sports-Related Fitness):
- Physical Preparation
- Learning of motor skills
- Psychological preparation
- Physical and psychological restoration
- Appropriate nutrition
Classically, the first two processes (or levels of training) comprises a general phase (General Physical Preparation: GPP) and a specific phase (Special Physical Preparation: SPP – also called Special Strength Training), with various sub-phases (e.g. stabilization, intensification, recuperation, conversion or competitive phases) within, between, or after each of these phases.
This focuses on the general and some specific phases of preparation with special references to the upcoming special types of strength within all previously described categories of fitness. This is imperative to both activities of daily living and sports performance.
The diagram below is a pictorial representation of a model of physical preparation:
What binds all these fitness categories together to form the foundation of all physical fitness?
The answer is strength.
As previously stated, “strength is the maximal force that a muscle or muscle group can generate at a specified velocity and in a specified direction.” Earlier, we described forces and the properties of force indicating that force has direction and magnitude (how much force applied). This indicates that forces applied to an object have a specified amount (magnitude), speed (velocity), and direction of a force applied to an object.
The application of various amounts of force at different speeds indicates that multiple categories of strength exist. Knowing these different categories of strength enables coaches to apply and train these categories of strength appropriately.