Fitness Trail: It’s time for summer sports prep
Summer sports’ season is upon us and if you have not already begun to prepare, it is not too late to begin your preparation program. Over the next several weeks, sport’s specific skills/drills for golf, outdoor cycling, water sports, hiking, tennis and baseball/softball/volleyball will be highlighted. This week; however, summer sports’ preparation basics are featured which apply to all of the sports covered in the following weeks. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program or sport, please consult your physician.
The Five Components of Physical Fitness Applied to Summer Sports:
Regardless of which summer sport you participate in, apply the following five physical fitness components. Speed, power, agility, reaction time, balance, stability, mobility, etc., are also important components in preparing for all summer sports and will be covered as well but targeting the specific requirements for each sport (i.e. the specificity principle—to be good at it—you must do it).
-Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance is the heart, lungs, and circulatory system’s ability to extract oxygen from the outside atmosphere and transport it to the working muscles. In simple terms, we refer to it as your aerobic capacity/foundation or stamina. And, without a solid aerobic foundation, the rest of your training preparation may be diminished. Even though your sport may require more skill/power orientation, such as golf, your body’s ability to walk the course and to play 18 holes speaks to cardiovascular endurance. The better your cardiovascular endurance, the less fatigue you may experience and this directly impacts your energy level and your performance.
-Muscular Strength is the capacity of a muscle to exert force against an external resistance which is usually measured in a one maximum repetition (i.e. think of a 1RM bench press). For example, in tennis, the better your muscular strength, the more efficiently you will follow through with all of your tennis strokes consistently applying the required force to significantly challenge your opponent (i.e. this is also about power—a combination of strength/speed).
-Muscular Endurance is the capacity of a muscle to exert force against an external resistance a number of times (i.e. think of swinging a tennis racquet). Imagine how many times you hit the tennis ball, swing the baseball bat, revolve the pedals, row, hit the volleyball, climb the hill when hiking or swing the golf club during your matches, rounds, games and events. The better your muscular endurance, the better your ability may be to endure those actions throughout play without fatiguing.
-Flexibility is the range of motion about the joint and is joint specific. Therefore, you may be quite flexible in your shoulder joint and very inflexible in your hip joint. In general, flexibility training, without creating joint instability, should be an integral part of your preparation program. All of the skills/drills that are integral components of all summer sports and preparation are enhanced, and potential injury may be avoided, with improvements in flexibility.
-Body Composition is the body’s lean to fat ratio. Lean tissue includes bone, blood and muscle and fat is, well, fat. All summer sports may benefit from a healthy body composition. An elite athlete may need to maintain a lower lean to fat ratio than a recreational athlete due to the demands placed upon the elite athlete. However, there is no downside to maintaining a healthy body composition.
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