Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Athletics on Wikipedia

I looked up "athletics" on Google
and found nothing but heartburn.
The link to Wikipedia took me right
to a disambiguation page. Nice.
The page called "Athletics (sport)"
waxed poetic about track and field,
and other forms of footracing. There
was nothing on general training,
coaching, technique, you know--
all the stuff of athletes (that word
is screwed-up too).

This frustrated me enough to do
the research and write the page.

My philanthropic, Wikipedia gift
to the world is called "Athletics
(overview)." I'm going to post it
here, because it will likely get
edited and changed substantially.

Athletics (overview)

Athletics is a broad term encompassing the competitive sports and games requiring physical skill, and the systems of training that prepare athletes for competition performance.[1]

The word athletics is derived from the Greek word "athlos" (ἄθλος), meaning "contest" or "task." The Ancient Olympic Games were born of war; running, jumping, boxing, wrestling & chariot racing were the earliest events, followed by field events like the javelin throw which was adopted from spear-throwing.[2] The Olympic Games were revived in the 1800s, and added figure skating and ice hockey to the list of sports in the early 20th century. The 2008 Summer Olympics held 28 sports and 302 events, while the 2006 Winter Olympics held 84 events. Athletic clubs worldwide offer athletic training facilities for multitudes of sports and games.


Athletic Body Type
Gender and genetics play major roles in assessing athletic potential. There are few full-contact football leagues for women; however, women have been active in martial arts for centuries, and sports like figure skating and tennis tend to favor women in terms of spectator popularity. Basketball, high jump, and volleyball favor taller athletes, while gymnastics and wrestling favor shorter ones. Long distance runners tend to be thinner, while competitive weight lifters and American football players tend to be stockier. Athletic development often begins with athletic parents.[3][4]

Physical Conditioning
A primary athletic function is the body conditioning required for competition. Most often, trainers utilize proven athletic principles in order to develop athletic qualities; these qualities include coordination, flexibility, precision, power, speed, endurance, balance, awareness efficiency, and timing.[5] While physical strength is prized over most other qualities in Western athletics,[6] it is forbidden in the physical conditioning of Tai Chi Chuan.[7][8]

Psychological Preparation
Critical to a team’s or an athlete’s success is a winning attitude. Inherent in the drive to win is the ability to remain relaxed and focused under the pressure of competition. Modern athletic coaches employ the use of sports psychologists to help athletes organize themselves through visualization, relaxation techniques, self-talk, concentration, etc.

Sports Medicine
High-level athletics not only treat injuries with medical procedure, but attempt to prevent problems such as trauma and overuse injuries. Sports medicine can also include the use of massage, glucose testing, Rolfing, physical therapy, and performance enhancing drugs like caffeine & anabolic steroids.

Technical training
Athletes first learn basic movement patterns such as running, stopping, jumping and throwing. Coaches help athletes refine these movements into sport specific skills. A skill such as high jumping can then be refined into a competitive technique like the Western roll or the Fosbury Flop. An individual’s expression of a technique is often called a style; while various competitive swimming strokes are also called styles. Technical training may also include teaching the rules and restrictions of a sport or game.[9]

Elite athletes and teams require high-level coaching. A coach is often associated only with an athlete’s technical development; however, a coach will likely play all the roles of mentor, physical trainer, therapist, medical responder, technical trainer and performance facilitator. Coaches may or may not involve sportsmanship in their program. Coaching typically signifies a quadrennial, ongoing mentorship for athletic development, as opposed to a clinician who might only assist for a short period of time.[10]

Analysis / Evaluation
Not only must coaches be able to teach technical form, but recognize and correct problems with an athlete’s technique and conditioning. Recent advancements in video technology can provide accurate biomechanical data to optimize the form, precision, timing, efficiency and power of an athlete’s movements.[11]

^ Kennedy and Guo (2010). Jingwu. Blue Snake Books. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-58394-242-0.
^ Bruce Lee (1975). Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Ohara Publications. p. 43. ISBN 0-89750-048-2.
^ Lisa Feinberg Densmore (2000). Ski Faster. McGraw-Hill. p. 22. ISBN 0-07-134381-4.
^ Clem W. Thompson (1989). Manual of Structural Kinesiology. Times/Mirror. ISBN 0-8016-5031-3.
^ Warren Witherell and David Evrard (1994). The Athletic Skier. The Athletic Skier, Inc.. p. 4. ISBN 1-55566-117-3.
^ Patrick Thias Balmain (2005). The Inner Glide. Destiny Books. ISBN 159477160-X.
^ Allen E. Scates (1989). Winning Volleyball. William C. Brown Publishers. pp. 221–251. ISBN 0-697--6822-6.