Sport may be divided into two broad categories; individual or team sports. The division comes from personal characteristics which inform the choices we make, venues, affordability, upbringing and familial or social influences, and sometimes simply what we are successful at.
Body composition plays a key role in many of these factors, hence it is important to choose your parents carefully to ensure your genetic makeup matches your sporting choices.
Few people of black African origin swim in elite international competition. Their body composition with heavier bone and muscle structures makes them less buoyant than whites. Few persist in overcoming initial difficulties with technique, and many coaches do not appreciate the impact of these minor differences.
Shorter people rotate faster. When coached well, in a supportive environment that pressures them into elite competition their physical height advantage permits them to out-perform taller people. It is no accident that world champion gymnasts, dancers, acrobats and divers often are shorter in stature.
These same athletes suffer a physical disadvantage in AFL, volleyball, swimming, basketball or netball, and even tennis, where a longer axis of rotation is an advantage, or height requires less effort, allowing tall players to appear effortless in maintaining skill during a long contest.
Physical characteristics are easily measured. This makes them easy to modify. Performance can be enhanced by optimising physical advantage. In a world where we learn academically, rather than by experience and movement as our body was designed to do, there is great advantage that can be derived by physically optimising skills.
Coaches, sports scientists and a host of ancillary professionals are employed to ensure individuals or teams perform at their best possible at all times. For some this means using a whole season to arrive as a fit, injury-free athlete or team at the start of the finals or championship. The smallest error or miscalculation over the course of a season often robs the -˜best’ athlete or team of the gold medal or grand final.
The less measurable psychological aspect to sport is gradually being understood, as players, teams and coaches try to come to terms with how the best team on paper did not win the final. This will be explored in next week’s column.
While biting your nails waiting eagerly for its printing, get off that chair, and Get out to Play: Team Sydney sports clubs for you to participate in: teamsydney.org.au