Need for sports preparedness among students

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Physical literacy should be introduced early to children as part of curricula in educational institutions

Physical literacy should be introduced early to children as part of curricula in educational institutions

India’s exceptional performance in sports on the world stage in recent years is cause for more than celebration. It calls for deeper and more strategic thought about sports preparedness in schools and colleges. Limited access to training spaces, unavailability of experts, and injuries, are some fundamental barriers to athletic performance. There is a greater need to delve into these aspects to be better facilitators of our sports talent. One way is to introduce sports management and fitness programmes in educational institutions.

Some may choose to pursue sports for general fitness and to improve overall well-being by enhancing body composition, cardiorespiratory fitness, flexibility, muscular strength, and endurance. Others may prefer specific training programmes that necessitate structure and customisation based on that particular sport. For example, the football season runs from March through September. To improve in football, heavy resistance workouts should be considered in October and November and then transition to specific training, as the season approaches.

To that end, training for a particular sport involves a programme design that focuses on personalised training and emphasises specific goals at specific times. Sport-specific fitness components include balance, agility, reaction time, speed, power, and coordination, depending on the type of sport.

Beyond the physical factors, there are some non-physiological factors of sports preparedness, such as the individual’s nutritional intake and satiety levels. These have a significant impact on psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, tension, and aggression.

Getting fitter before attempting a sport is an excellent idea. If a student is new to the sport and enjoys solid general fitness, he/she has a better chance of excelling on the field or track.

Motivation and sports psychology

As the internal energy force that influences every aspect of the athlete’s life, motivation also needs to be quantified to accurately assess sports preparedness. Experts use the self-motivation continuum, which ranges from the least determined to the most determined. It goes from amotivation (unable and unwilling to train) to external and introjected motivation (to secure a reward or avoid punishment), and then to identified and integrated regulation (sticking to the regimen to achieve excellence) and finally, to intrinsic motivation (comes from within where they enjoy all sports-related tasks and training simply for the joy of participation). Intrinsic motivation is considered the healthiest type of motivation.

An athlete’s motivation can also be regulated by sociocultural factors, economic status, and so on, such as landing a job or scholarship upon achievement. The role of others, including the coach and family, is significant to remind him/her of the joy of participating.

Physical literacy in curricula

With athletes retiring in their late 20s and early 30s, the induction of physical literacy should be done early. The earlier one is introduced to movement, physical activity, and sport, the greater the likelihood of having a successful career as an athlete. From 0-3 years, a child should be encouraged to move; from 3-5 years, the focus should be on play and fun; for the 5-8 years group, start introducing movement terminology (brace, pull, push, stabilise, balance and so on), and from 8-12 years, start introducing complex movement skills.

Knowledge of exercise or and sport technique is a major part of physical literacy. It is required to ensure peak performance and reduce the risk of injury. In developed countries, physical literacy is part of the early school curriculum to ensure children’s physical, psychological, social, and cognitive health and well-being. Taken together, parenting, schooling, and policy efforts go into implementing physical literacy. Additions to the education framework are essential.

The writer is Assistant Professor, GITAM School of Physiotherapy (GSPT), GITAM (Deemed-to-be) University