Basis of Sports Training

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Basis of Sports Training

f-swimming4All activities which are part of human behavior were subject to a long-term development. Let us take throwing, which is regarded a basic motor activity, as an example. In the deep past, throwing was necessary for feeding and defense. At present, throwing has lost its importance as one of the above mentioned activities but it is involved in different sports to a great extent (e.g. athletics, handball, baseball, etc.). The task of a prehistoric hunter was to hit the target precisely to get food. The aim of a present-day athlete is to throw the javelin as far as possible. The result of the activity in both examples can be considered a performance. Performance is understood as an extent to which motor task is accomplished. With the prehistoric hunter, performance is evaluated dichotomically: hitting the target or missing and it is not restricted by any rules. In the case of the athlete, performance is evaluated following rules of the sports discipline which were set in advance, it is expressed by the length of the throw and is understood as a sports performance. An ability to achieve a given performance repeatedly is referred to as efficiency.

The aim of sports training is to achieve maximum individual or team efficiency in a selected sports discipline limited by rules.

Reaching maximum efficiency in any activity is not possible over a day. Efficiency is conditioned by several interrelated areas. Sports training focuses on reaching maximum efficiency in motor abilities connected to a certain sports discipline. Supposed performance depends on motor ability and motor skill which are closely related to the sports discipline. Motor abilities can be described as relatively stable sets of inner genetic presuppositions needed to carry out locomotive activities. They include force, speed, endurance, coordination and flexibility. Motor abilities are manifested on the outside by sports skills. Sports skills are presuppositions needed for implementing performance in a selected sports discipline which is limited by rules. Such presuppositions are gained through motor learning. It, however, would not be possible to implement sports skills or develop locomotive abilities without motivation. Motivation is understood as an inner incentive to carry out certain activity. The final area needed for performance implementation is represented by tactical skills. Tactics means conducting a sports competition in a purposeful way.

The contents of sports training consists of individual key areas which are called components of sports training:

Physical component is generally focused on developing motor abilities.
Technical component focuses on acquiring sports skills through motor learning.
Tactical component focuses on acquiring and further development of different ways to conduct sports contest on a purposeful basis.
Psychological component is focused on improving the athlete's personality.

Example: Component of physical fitness means motor abilities which are a condition for maximum jump height. What is crucial in this matter is quick force. In volleyball, technical component is an acquired skill of offensive hit. Tactical component is represented by choosing direction and force of hit which depends on game situation analysis. Psychological component is manifested on the outside by the player's reliance on him/herself to solve game situation successfully.

Sports training is understood as a process of systematic development of each component in dependence on the duration of preparation which leads to achieving maximum efficiency in senior age within the selected sports discipline.

Characteristics of Sports Training Components

Physical Component

Physical component is primarily oriented towards systematic development of motor abilities and their manifestation through sports skills in a selected sports discipline. Among the most important areas of motor abilities are the following:

Force abilities
Endurance abilities
Speed abilities
Coordinative abilities

Basic differentiation of motor abilities is not sufficient to describe the manifestation of individual abilities within the specific sports discipline. Physical requirements on the athlete during physical training are primarily related to the selected sports discipline. Some sports require carrying out motor activity with a high (e.g., 400-m run) or low (e.g., marathon run) intensity during the whole course of motor task. Other sports, like soccer or basketball require the athlete to carry out different types of motor activity ranging from static positions to running with maximum speed, often accompanied by change of direction; and all that with a different intensity. Requirements of individual sports disciplines are related to physical capacity of the athlete and can be divided into following categories:

The ability to develop a high power output in single action during competition such as kicking in soccer an jumping in basketball (force).
The ability to perform prolonged exercise (endurance).
The ability to sprint (speed).
The ability to exercise at high intensity which are the basis on acceleration, maximum velocity and multidirectional change of movement (agility).

Specific features of individual categories will be discussed below.

Well-designed training programs are based on applying five principles during each stage of sports preparation. There are three basic principles: specificity, size of adaptation stimulus and progression.


Sports preparation in a specific sport is characterized by specificity. The athlete improves his or her performance in specific activities which are the content of a specific sports discipline. For instance, take-off in attack strike in volleyball is characteristic for taking off from both feet, therefore while training quick force, specific exercise must be utilized which support the respective type of take-off.

Size of adaptation stimulus

Applying optimum and adaptation stimulus means applying smaller size during sports preparation than the one which the athlete is used to. However well the training program may be designed, without applying optimum adaptation stimulus, it restricts the ability of the athlete to improve. Subliminal stimulus does not lead to desirable progressive changes in performance.

An example of applying this principle can be increasing the size during exercise within force training (increasing the number of sessions per week, adding drills or exercises or sets, perferring complex exercises to simple ones, shortening rest periods between sets or exercises or any other combination of the above examples).


If systematic training is to lead to ever greater improvement, its volume and intensity must continuously increase. If the principle of progressive increase is applied properly, it lead to cummulative training effect (an example of this can be gradual increase in intensity of sports preparation by increasing the number of weekly trainins, increasing repetitions within each exercise, change of type or difficulty of exercise).

Technical component

Technical training focuses on acquiring, keeping and transferring motor skills. Generally, from the point of view of sports training, motor skills are divided into two groups:

Fundamental skills are based on natural ontogenetic development of a human. It includes gait, run, jump, climbing, basic overarm throwing, etc.

Sports skills are based on contents of a specific sports discipline. In volleyball, the content of skills is for instance setting, reception, block, service etc. The aim of developing these skills is acquiring high level of automatization . These skills accompany the athlete during the whole period of his sports carrer regardless of the perforamnce level he or she is at. The athlete keeps such skills for the whole of his sports career regardless of performance level. Acquiring these skills should be in compliance with long-term conception of sports training . According to this conception, training of a specific sports discipline must contain another large group of motor skills which do not form its contents but are important for reaching other aims of sports training. For example, they include gymnastic or athletic skills which are important for recovery, compensation and versatile development of an athlete.

Movement skills can be classified according to three basic motor behavior criteria.

General versus Special Skills

General agility tasks targets the development of one or more basic coordinative abilities, whereas special tasks unify them in a skill specific manner. For example, standing on one foot represents an example of a general skill which develops static balance. On the other hand, standing on one foot on a balancing bar can be a part of a gymnastic set where it represents a special skill.

Closed versus Open Skills

Closed agility skills have programmed assignments and predictable or stable environments. An example of a closed skill can be gymnastic routine or set in figure skating.

Open skill have nonprogrammed assignments and unpredictable or unstable environments. The context changes during performance, and the training objective is to rapidly respond and adapt to new or unforeseen stimuli and situation. An example of a open skill can be situation in games when a defense player must respond to unforeseen movement of the opponent.

Continuous versus Discrete versus Serial Skills

Continuous tasks have no identifiable start or finish. An example can be skills of cyclic character (cycling, skating, rowing)

Discrete tasks have a definite start and finish. An example can be skills of acyclic character (throw, jump).

Serial tasks are composed of discrete skills performed in sequence, with successful execution of each subtask determining the overall outcome. An example can be skills of a combined cyclic and acyclic character (javelin throwing, long jump).

Tactical component

Tactical component of sports training focuses on different ways to conduct sports competition towards victory. Key terms of this component are strategy and tactics.

Strategy means a plan which was created beforehand and is based on experience with a purposeful conduct of sports competition that has proved to lead to an expected result in a specific competition.

Tactics means practical execution of strategy in a specific race situation. Practical execution is based mainly on acquired possible solutions of specific race situation. Progress of acquiring possible solutions of race situations must be in compliance with the duration of sports training within the selected long-term conception of sports training.

Almost every volleyball team has some weakness which can be used as advantage for the opposing team. Let us suppose that the line-up of some anonymous team includes a player who is not so good at receiving of first hit on their half. At present, reception is a necessary basis of a good quality game in volleyball. Let us further imagine that this team has got a very good setter. Strategy is then based on the fact that it is necessary to aim service at this player in the course of game and attempt to lead own offense over such part of the net that is defended by a player of a lower height. Tactics is then based on practical solution of game situation when service is aimed in such a way so that the receive spiker view of the ball is made difficult. In such a situation he would have to make as long movement as possible towards the place of reception; offence is conducted according to the position of a specific defense player, etc. Another example of strategy could be summarized as follows: The basis of own good quality game is to make opponents argue with one another. Tactics is then to choose one of the opponents who is a bit choleric a talk to him at the right moment.

Psychological component

Psychological component focuses on positive influence on the athlete's personality as far as fair play is concerned in dependence on the length of sports training with the aim to achieve maximum efficiency in senior age.

There are no two exactly identical people in the world. Everyone is an original who acts as an individual on the outside. Personality of each individual is characterized by a number of factors. Among them, there are the following:

Temperament which is manifested on the outside through emotions and is related to the dynamics of mental processes. In practice, four basic types of temperament are distinguished: sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic, and melancholic.

Motivation is understood as an incentive which supports some kind of behavior and is decisive in the kind and intensity of a person's acting. Acting can be described as an acitivity carried out to follow a clear-cut aim. Motivation is closely related to activation level. Activation level can be described as the level to which organism is activated. Relationship between activation level and sports performance has been proved to exist. The curve of dependence is in the shape of inverted U. The interpretation is that both very high and very low activation level is of a negative influence on sports performance.

Qualities of an individual are innate and can be divided into two positive (devotion, persistence) and two negative (dependence, selfishness) categories. Qualities of an individual are characterized with four dimensions: direction, intensity, scope and duration.

Attitudes are – as opposed to qualities – acquired and they are repeatedly manifested in given situations. Attitudes originate from echoing, maturing, rationality or on the basis of emotional reactions. All of the above factors make a unity which is referred to as character of an individual.

An example of temperament manifestation in sports can be a response of two different volleyball players to a game situation in which the referee makes an unintentional discriminating mistake against one of the teams. Each volleyball player knows that referees never change their statements. A phlegmatic player who does not get emotional easily and does not manifest his or her emotions much on the outside, will not comment on the referee's mistake much, rather he or she will get ready for the rest of the game. A choleric player, who gets emotional easily and manifests his or her emotions on the outside, will comment on the situation violently and will request a change of the referee's decision.

During my career as a coach, I encountered many cases of insufficient or, on the other hand, exaggerated motivation. Neither of these leads to a good performance in competition. It is necessary to keep activation level at an optimum level. It is upon the coach's feeling and experience to know how much motivation his trainees need to reach maximum sports performance. The following rule holds true: "neither too much, nor too little".

Both positive and negative qualities are manifested in any situation. In sports, these qualities are manifested much more in situations when the athlete or the team loses. Again, it is upon the coach's feeling and experience to be able to regulate these manifestations in the right way.

What can be used as an example from the area of sports is a team of athletes of a senior category of a high-league collective sport who considered training of physical fitness useless. It was very difficult to begin with fitness training. The athletes' attitudes towards fitness training changed with first successes. Now, the attitude of nearly all the athletes is totally different. For a well physically prepared athlete is able to resist fatique more effectively and consequently manifest better performance.

Tasks of sports training focus on systematic development of the components of sports training. Development of individual components of training is influenced by the structure of sports performance.

Structure of Sports Performance

Sports performance is understood as an extent to which a motor task limited by rules of a given sports discipline is accomplished. Sports perfomance factors are understood as a relatively independent parts of sports performance. Traditionally recognized factors of sports training in any sports disciplines include:

Somatic factors
Fitness factors
Technical factors
Tactical factors
Psychical factors

A common feature of the factors is that they can be affected by training (fitness, technical, tactical, and psychical) or they are taken into account in talent picking (somatic – e.g. selecting taller children for volleyball, basketball, or shorter for gymnastics respectively). Sports performance factors correspond to the above sports training components . Sports performance is influenced by a number of factors. The importance and hierarchy of the factors depends on a specific sports discipline.

Basis of Sports Training 01

Example of sports performance factors in different sports discipline

For marathon runners, long-term endurance training is an important part of the year's microcycle, while with sports gymnastics development of this kind of endurance is not a priority.

Model of factors determining sports performance is presented here as an example .

Basis of Sports Training 02

Example of sports performance factors.

As results from the above, performance of an athlete in sport depends on the athlete's technical, tactical, physical, and psychological-social characteristic. These factors are linked with each other, e.g., the technical skills can not be fully utilized without adequate levels of physical abilities. Conversely tactical component can not be fully utilized without adequate quality of technical skills.

The physical demands in sport are related to the activities of the athlete. The performance in selected sports discipline is based on the characteristic of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems as well as muscles, combined with the interplay of the nervous system. The muscular system is constituted by a multitude of components, which have important influence on the mechanical and metabolic behavior of the muscle. Muscle morphology and architecture, and myosin isoform composition play a major role in the contractile strength characteristics of the muscle evaluated as maximal isometric, concentric, and eccentric contraction force, maximal rate of force development, and power generation. Glycolytic muscle enzyme levels and ionic transport systems are major determinants of anaerobic power and capacity. Likewise, mitochondrial enzyme levels and capillary density exert a strong influence on aerobic muscle performance in turn affecting the force development and the maximal power output of human skeletal muscle, while also influencing the endurance performance of the muscle fibers. The respiratory, cardiovascular, and muscle characteristic are determined by genetic factors but they can also be developed by training. A number of environmental factors such as temperature and for outdoor sports, the weather and surface of competition ground also influence on the performance.


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