Factors Affecting Sporting Performance

Several factors affect our sporting performances, some of which are ‘natural’ factors, and some of which we cause.
An example of a natural factor is our gender. We do not choose to be male or female and therefore it is something that occurs naturally.
An example of a factor caused by ourselves is our diet- what we eat and drink. We can decide what we want to eat be it healthy or not healthy, the decision is ours.

Age is a natural factor affecting performance.
When you are very young, your bones and muscles are still growing and because your bones are still growing they are a lot softer than a fully-grown adults are. This helps young children to be very flexible and very supple, which in turn affects their performance. But being fully-grown in some sports is better than young and supple. Because adults are fully-grown, they are a lot stronger than a child is. All the muscles are developed properly and so in a sport such as cycling it would be an advantage to be a fully-grown adult than a developing child, whereas in gymnastics it would be an advantage to be very supple because of the certain exercises involved.
Our gender affects our performance a great deal.
A mans frame is generally wider and taller than a woman’s is.
Women after they reach puberty develop wider hips which hinders their running ability, whereas a man develops larger muscles due to the increased level of testosterone in their bodies.
Women generally have muscles smaller than a mans, so men have a head start already in any power sports such as weightlifting or sprinting which require a lot of physical strength.
The size of your internal organs affects performance, in that if you have for example larger than average lungs, you can inhale an awful lot of air which contains oxygen, and so more oxygen can be sent to the muscles to keep them going for longer.
Similarly if you have a healthy heart, it can pump the blood to your muscles quicker. And contained in the red blood cells is the oxygen that your muscles need to keep working.
Having a healthy heart and large lungs can be a great advantage in an endurance sports event such as rowing or cross-country running.
The use of drugs, banned substances, cigarettes and alcohol all effect the way in which we perform in sports.
Drugs affect our performance in a positive way. They make us more alert, bulk up muscles and improve strength, increase speed and stamina, and get lots of oxygen to our muscles.
Apart from cheating by taking drugs, they ruin our internal organs such as the liver and kidneys. In some cases drugs ruin your fertility because of the effect they have on the body.
Cigarettes affect the way the heart and lungs work. The lung capacity of a smoker is considerably less than a non-smoker. Because the lung capacity is less than normal, this means that less oxygen enters the body and less oxygen goes into the red blood cells which are supposed to take oxygen to the muscles. Because of the lack of oxygen in the muscles, they can’t work as well as usual. And if the muscles aren’t working properly you can’t play any sport well.
Alcohol slows down reaction time and de-hydrates the body.
If your reactions are slowed down in a fast game such as squash, it is likely that you will lose because you have to be alert at all times and if alcohol is present in the body, your performance will be affected.
Your diet is very important if you want to stay fit and healthy.
If a professional athlete changed their diet to one with sweet and fatty foods it would affect their performance, because too much sugar and fat in the body is unhealthy and it makes you gain extra weight to carry around when you are in action.
If the diet you currently have has too many bad things in it, it can start to strain your heart.
If you have a very well balanced diet, which is full of fresh fruit and vegetables it keeps your body healthy and full of energy.
Also, if your diet lacks a certain amount of sugar, you can have low energy levels which makes your body work slower and not up to speed.
It is good to take certain vitamin supplements to make sure that your body is totally up to scratch and eating plenty of foods with iron and different minerals.
Illness is quite a major factor in your sporting performance.
If you have just started to recover from flu or a bad virus, your body will be very weak from fighting off the virus because lots of your energy is taken up by getting better, so if you went down to a football pitch and tried to play 90 minutes of football the chances are that your performance will be very poor because your muscles will be tired, you won’t be very alert and you will be fatigued and lethargic.
An athlete who is clear from illness is far more likely to give a very good performance because they are fully fit, alert, and not tired.
The environment makes a difference in most outdoor sports.
Athletes who train at high altitude have an advantage, because there is a higher level of oxygen in the air and so more oxygen gets into the blood and to the muscles so they can keep going for longer in for example a marathon run or rowing.
A high level of pollution in the air also means that there is difference in oxygen level, but instead of being higher like in high altitude, it is lower due to the impurities in the air. If there is less oxygen, less can be brought into the body, and so the muscles don’t receive the necessary oxygen, so they can’t work as well.
The weather also makes a difference in performance outdoors.
During a sprint race, if there is a wind blowing towards the athletes, it will be harder for them to run at a world record pace, because they have to work harder to run into an opposing force.
Heat affects sprinters as well, if it is too cold, their muscles sometimes are not warm enough, so they could get injured or pull a muscle.
If it is warm or even hot when they are running, their bodies and muscles will already be warm and ready to go, so when they are running, their muscles will be working at their best.
Your lifestyle is a very important to keeping fit and healthy.
A good active lifestyle will result in a healthy body.
If you do plenty of exercise and eat healthily you can train for a sport easier, and your body has already set the foundations to keeping fit and keeping up with training.
If you get little exercise and stay indoors most of the day, your body will be used to not doing anything too energetic, so if you suddenly go out and do an intense training session the chances are that your body will not be able to cope.

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