Why We Play Sport!

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Since
September last year gsport has been running a poll on the website asking you
why you play sport. Was it for the love of the game, for that winning feeling,
to keep in shape, for the social vibe, or for the money?

Nearly 55%
of you said you played sport because you loved it, just over 17% to keep in
shape, 13.5% played sport because you enjoyed the social aspect, nearly 12%
percent played to win, and just over 3% played sport for the money.

In the end,
whatever reason we play sport, we are driven by PASSION, and that’s the beauty
of sport; the emotions it stirs up, win or lose.

This
spring, why not try your hand at a new sport? Who knows, you may actually enjoy
it!

gsport
spoke to Karin Hugo, a sports scientist with the SPAR National Women’s Hockey
team, about the role sports science in an athlete’s life.

20070901PlaySport2.jpgHow can sports science assist
someone become a top performer?

We apply the theory of training to help athletes get
faster, stronger, more flexible and to improve their endurance. This ensures
that they can perform at a higher level, while also steering clear of injuries.
It encompasses the entire development of the athlete to improve the physical
performance by including components such as speed, agility, plyometrics,
strength training and core stability etc

With the rigours of
training and competition at the highest level, the body is obviously stretched.
What is the key to competitive fitness?

A well
planned strength and conditioning programme consisting of all the different
fitness components is essential. But in order to be able to train and perform
other scientific principles are just as important such as recovery, sport
nutrition, sport psychology and performance analysis.

What are the symptoms
of overtraining?

Overtraining syndrome can be a devastating condition for any athlete,
because recovery requires an extended period away from training and competition
Overtraining syndrome develops when excessive physical and psychological stress
are combined with inadequate recovery time The main symptom of overtraining
syndrome is underperformance in athletes. Symptoms such as persistent fatigue,
muscle soreness, reduced coordination, weight loss, mood changes, and frequent
illness may accompany performance decrements, but they may also be signs of
underlying medical conditions.

What is the first
thing an athlete should do if she picks up an injury?

If you have
a sports injury the first thing to do is to prevent further injury or damage.
This means you should stop activity and look for the cause of the injury. Once
you determine what is wrong, you can start immediate treatment. The first
treatment for most acute soft tissue injuries (bruises, strains, springs,
tears) is to prevent, stop and reduce swelling. The primary treatment for soft
tissue injuries is P.R.I.C.E.D -protect, rest, ice,
compression, elevation, and diagnosis.

Here is
what you should do immediately when you sustain a sports injury:

  • Stop the activity immediately.
  • Rest. Limit activity – give the
    tissue time to heal
  • Apply ice to the injured part
    for 10-15 minutes. Let the area warm completely before applying ice again.
  • Wrapped the injured area in a
    compression bandage to limit bleeding/swelling.
  • Elevate the injured part to
    reduce swelling.
  • Get to a physician for a proper
    diagnosis of any serious injury

20070901PlaySport3.jpgWhy is sports
psychology so important?

Sports psychology is a
component of training that focuses on developing mental toughness. By
introducing concrete training strategies sports psychologists can help an
athlete develop, amongst other things, his/her confidence, communication
skills, concentration, motivation, while also improving his/her ability to deal
with nerves and cope with problems effectively. They can assist sportspeople in
developing specific strategies that will allow them to think, feel and do
whatever is required to produce their peak performance.

What is the importance
of nutrition in sport?

Optimum nutrition can make a vast difference to how your
body responds to training itself, and how you perform in your sport. Working
muscles require oxygen and an energy source. Athletes daily food intake must
contain adequate amounts of calories and nutrients to meet this demand.
Selecting foods that fuel exercising muscles is very important for athletes.
What every athlete needs to know is his or her own body needs, relative to the
sport that he or she plays. There is no generic set of nutrition for all
athletes as each body and sport requirement is unique.

How should athletes know
regarding doping and ways in which to avoid being caught in a sticky situation?

The South African Institute for Drug-free Sport (SAIDS) publishes an annual booklet to assist
athletes, coaches and medical personnel to differentiate between permitted and
prohibited substances. The list of prohibited drugs is based on the most recent
WADA prohibited list. I suggest that this comprehensive booklet accompanies
athletes at all times and should serve as a useful reference. In addition the
SAIDS website (www.drugfreesport.org.za) provides useful information and they
have a helpline (021 448 3888) which you can contact between 9:00 and 17:00 on
week days. I would advise all athletes to always check what they are taking,
even if the person claims it is safe. Always remember: if in doubt, keep it
out.

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Why is it
so difficult to progress or excel in sports?

In life, fortunately or unfortunately, nothing is
easy. If things
are easy, if
we always succeed, then we won’t value our capacities or appreciate our achievements. At every moment we must value not only our successes and achievements but also the efforts we make. Unfortunately, we do not appreciate
our efforts. We admire and
adore only the result. For years and
years we practice
hard, then, in a
short time, the tournament is
over. Afterwards, the world only remembers that there was
a champion at
Wimbledon.
But for that, how many
years of preparation did
it take?
Four, eight, ten, twelve years! The world doesn’t appreciate
the effort. It only appreciates
the victory.

What advice do you
have for women who would like to take up a sport but have never participated in
sporting activities?

Find an activity/sport you think you would like and give it
a try. Don’t expect miracles or miraculous achievements the first time you
participate. Try to take a friend along to make the experience even more
enjoyable and don’t give up to easy.

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gsport Newsroom

gsport Newsroom

Launched in 2006, gsport exists to enhance the commercial prospects of our women athletes, and other women in sport, by telling the inspiring story of SA women in sport. Thank you for your contribution!

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