Scientific aspects of coaching
SCIENTIFIC ASPECTS OF COACHING
Biomechanics is the study of science concerned with the internal and external forces acting on human body, and the effects produced by these forces. If the coach pays close attention to the biomechanics in sprinting, it does not only reduce the chances of overuse injuries but it also will improve the athletes' technique on setting off till the end of the race. In terms of technique the coach looks closely on how the athlete is positioned, such as how they would start the race. To maximise the efficiency of the technique the coach will start working on how the athlete will set off the blocks. Bontrager.K 1998 states that an efficient position for an athlete is one that enables the sprinter to produce more power to the given muscular effort and produce more power without working any muscle groups excessively, as this may lead to injuries to muscle groups such as bicep femoris, semitendinosus or even the rectus femoris.
The 1st law of inertia states that when a sprinter is on the starting position they're stationary so they're in absence of any force and will maintain this velocity unless added on by an external force. Being on this position the athlete has to be positioned correctly so that he/she will push out of the blocks quickly and comfortably, because at the sprint start it is important to produce a great explosive power generating high velocity in the block and acceleration stages (Mero.A et al 1992). In a starting position the Sprinter has to align the head and neck with the shoulders, arms should be perpendicular to the ground with the fingers spread so that the weight of the shoulders and the head is distributed between the fingers. The front leg on the blocks should be the strongest leg as it drives off the block and it has a 90 degree angle between the knee and the ground so that it gives maximum power speed ratio. On the “get set” command, the athlete has to lift their backside leaning forward distributing the weight on the shoulders with most of the weight held up between the index and middle finger knuckle. This will produce a good amount of displacement of the centre of gravity and the sprinter will push off the blocks easily as there won't be much force acting against them (Tellez T 2007)e
The coach might then take video evidence of an athlete setting off the block the compare it with the correct technique on a model of another video then point out the mistakes that the athlete is making to enhance the athlete's performance.
Amateur or elite, the psychological barriers always have an effect on ones performance hence the coach has to come up with different methods so that those barriers can work in favour of the participating athlete. To enhance the performance the coach has to appropriately skill the athlete (Hull.C, 1943) so that their drive to compete is aroused. To “psych up” the athlete a coach can use different methods such as self talk.
Positive self talk is a form of confidence building whereby one start believing in their abilities (“I can execute this skill perfectly”) to achieve a certain goal, this can be supported by a study that was done by (Weinberg 1988) where he suggests that positive self talk can reduces anxiety and build one's self confidence. When the athlete has got enough self confidence they must try to maintain that before, during and after the competition. To be able to do that the athlete needs concentration.
Concentration is the mental quality to focus on a certain task. The Australian Institution of Sport states that concentration is one of the most important skills an athlete can possess. So a coach has to make sure hi/her athlete stay concentrated all the time, and they can do this by applying different varieties of training and pick ones that the athlete produces the minimal amount of time to run the track, and also the athlete has to be comfortable with that training. To keep the athlete motivated, the coach has to plan difficult goal setting for the athlete as it has been proven by (Locke E.A 1968) that difficult goal setting enhances a performance (Latham G.P 1970). The world record fastest man in the world Usain Bolt also supported this theory on an interview with Chris Daley on a jamiacans.com website.
Psychology in sport has proven to be an important factor to be applied by a coach as it does not only contribute to maximizing the opportunities of winning the competition but with the correct mentality it beaks the barriers that affect ones performance, and this was first demonstrated by Roger Banister after a perception that running a mile less than four minutes was physically impossible.
At an elite level in terms of nutritional requirements of the event, it is (Oberstein S, 2009) essential that the coach reflects the mistakes taken by the athlete on his or her nutrition. Nutrition is mainly used to influence muscle hypertrophy as sprint training is centred on developing lean body mass competent enough to generate maximal power to carry the athlete as rapid as possible. (Louise B 2007) states that certain sports foods such as sport drinks, sport bars, liquid meals, gel and other supplements such as creatine and caffeine are more likely to improve the performance of sprinters as the assist in meeting the needs of carbohydrate, fluid, or protein and as a result in better performance and also quickly recover in such a session. There are no exact amounts of how much an athlete has to consume, so the coach has to measure the right amounts to meet his/her athletes individual needs so that there is no excess fat, or muscle that does not contribute in generating power and strength during the exercise. Elite sprinter on average have at least eleven sessions per week all year round, so the coach has to pay close attention on the athletes' nutrition so that the athlete wouldn't unintentionally consume more or less nutrition than what is required for them to be at an optimum speed as all these factors have an influence on how the athlete performs. A study by (Walker, I 2001) on the effects of caffeine found out that caffeine can have a positive effect on the sprinters as it can only enhance a performance for a short period of time (30 seconds) which enables it to contribute to maximizing the optimum sprint of an athlete (Graham TE 1998), therefore a can recommend it to his/her athlete so that the maximize the possibilities of winning the competition.
Nutrition has proved to play such a big role in enhancing to an extent where it needs to be pinpointed for it to work for an athlete or else it will work against you (Louise burke 2007).
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