Sport: Grounded in Science
Today, one can see that physical training for sport-performance has become very scientific. Coaches and athletes must have a thorough understanding of human movement, the biomechanics and the physiology involved and how these scientific concepts and factors apply specifically to sport-performance.
By studying the dimensions of the mechanics and the proper execution of a movement, one can come to realize the importance of the physical factors that are at play. These physical factors are all based on physical laws and principles of physics. Knowledge and understanding of these physical factors provide a scientific foundation for the training programs for sport-performance.
All coaches and athletes understand the importance of observing and evaluating sports skills and techniques to better evaluate athletic performance. There are two general ways to evaluate a sport skill or technique.(1)
Product (Results) Evaluation - which focuses on performance results and outcomes. For example; how much weight is lifted, how many baskets in a game, how fast a sprinter is, etc.. But measuring just the outcome of a sport doesn’t provide one with an understanding of how the skill or technique was performed.
Process (Factors) Evaluation - which focuses on the quality of the movements applied during the performance. For example; how the skills, techniques and body movements were carried out during a specific sport activity.
The two evaluations combined together are known as the Factors - Results Model of Analysis: The analyst identifies the result of the performance and then proceeds to list the factors that produced this result. All successful coaches and athletes know that the there is a fine balance between the two. Without knowing what the process looks like, one cannot duplicate the outcome successfully on a consistent basis. Also, one cannot perform a process without having an understanding of what the outcome is suppose to be.
Coach Vince Lombardi once stated; “One does not know if the last play that scored the touchdown was the correctly done play without knowing what all of the parts of the play consisted of and if they were performed in the right manner. You’ve got to know both the outcome and the process for repetitive success. You must have coordinated efficiency.”(2)
This is sometimes difficult, especially when a sport occurs very rapidly or when several parts are moving simultaneously. This is a major reason why the science of film, cinematography, and biomechanics has served coaches and athletes so well. The better coaches and athletes can observe, analyze and evaluate specific sports techniques; the better the advancement of the athletes’ performance. Providing proper coaching and training methods that are based upon what has been learned will increase the rate of improvement and success.
Movement is the key factor to take into consideration while observing and analyzing specific sports skills and techniques. Pattern, speed and force of a movement are important elements to all sport skills and techniques. During the observation and analysis of a sport skill and technique, one should attempt to understand the specific simplified forms of the performance, observe the moving body parts, separate the components and look at timing. Understanding the specific simplified forms of the performance is the basis for evaluation and analysis of the specific elements of the sport skills and techniques.
Because the parts of the body are linked together, movement of each individual part has an influence on all other body parts. One must observe the motion and direction of the body parts and locate the direction of applied forces. Balance and stability are specific elements that are important to the performance of all sports. One must observe the supporting parts of the body, and take into consideration the importance of where the center of gravity is at all times throughout a movement.
To understand the dynamics of a specific athletic movement or skilled technique and its relative application to sports training and athletic performance, one must be grounded in science.
Hay, J.G. & Reid, J.G. (1982). The Anatomical and Mechanical Bases of Human Motion. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc
O’brien, M. (1987). Vince: A Personal Biography of Vince Lombardi. New York: Quill / William Morrow.