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Sports Are 80 Percent Mental

2 Posts tagged with the sports_parents tag



!http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3b3RMRFwqU0/SV1bdmTOovI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/cPNSNk-wD4s/s320/genetic_swab_test_athlete.jpg|src=http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_3b3RMRFwqU0/SV1bdmTOovI/AAAAAAAAAgQ/cPNSNk-wD4s/s320/genetic_swab_test_athlete.jpg|border=0!




As first seen on Livescience.com.</b>

 

Of all of the decisions parents face regarding their children's future, choosing between shoulder pads or running shoes for their Christmas present seems trivial. Well, according to Kevin Reilly, president of Atlas Sports Genetics , this is a decision you should not take lightly. 

"If you wait until high school or college to find out if you have a good athlete on your hands, by then it will be too late," he said in a recent New York Times interview . "We need to identify these kids from 1 and up, so we can give the parents some guidelines on where to go from there."

 

Earlier this month, Reilly's company began marketing a $149 saliva swab test for kids, aged 1 to 8, to determine which variant of the gene ACTN3 is in their DNA. According to a 2003 Australian study , ACTN3 was shown to be a marker for two different types of athletic prowess, explosive power or long endurance. While everyone carries the gene, the combination of variants inherited, one from each parent, differs.

 

Science of success

The R variant of ACTN3 signals the body to produce a protein, alpha-actinin-3, which is found exclusively in fast-twitch muscles. The X variant prohibits this production. So, athletes inheriting two R variants may have a genetic advantage in sports requiring quick, powerful muscle contractions from their fast-twitch muscle fibers.

 

In the ACTN3 study, Dr. Kathryn North and her lab at the Institute for Neuromuscular Research of the University of Sydney looked at 429 internationally ranked Australian athletes and found significant correlation between power sport athletes and the presence of the R variant. All of the female sprint athletes had at least one R variant, as did the male power-sport athletes. In fact, 50 percent of the 107 sprinters had two copies of the R variant.

 

!http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3b3RMRFwqU0/SV1byaOov2I/AAAAAAAAAgY/-H4pw7JYiGQ/s320/baby_athlete|src=http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_3b3RMRFwqU0/SV1byaOov2I/AAAAAAAAAgY/-H4pw7JYiGQ/s320/baby_athlete|border=0! What about those aspiring athletes that were not fortunate enough to inherit the R variant and its protein producing qualities?

 

North's team also noted that the elite endurance athletes seemed to be linked to the XX variation, although only significantly in the female sample. In 2007, her team pursued this link by developing a strain of mice that was completely deficient in the alpha-actinin-3 protein similar to an athlete with an XX allele. They found the muscle metabolism of the mice without the protein was more efficient. Amazingly, the mice were able to run 33 percent farther than mice with the normal ACTN3 gene.

 

 

Cloudy future

Additional research is showing mixed results, however. 

 

In 2007, South African researchers found no significant correlation between 457 Ironman triathletes, known for their endurance, and the XX combination. This year, Russian researchers at the St. Petersburg Research Institute of Physical Culture also failed to establish the XX-endurance performance link among 456 elite rowers but did find the RR connection among a sample of Russian power sports athletes.

 

So, can we at least find the next Usain Bolt among our kids?

 

"Everybody wants to predict future athletic success based on present achievement or physical makeup. But predicting success is much more difficult than most people think," Robert Singer, professor and chair of the department of exercise and sport sciences at the University of Florida warns in the book "Sports Talent" (Human Kinetics Publishers, 2001) by Jim Brown.

 

"There are too many variables, even if certain athletes have a combination of genes that favors long-range talent," Singer said. "A person's genetic makeup can be expressed in many different ways, depending on environmental and situational opportunities. Variables such as motivation, coachability, and opportunity can't be predicted."

 

Destiny?

Just as we assume that kids that are at the 99 percent percentile in height are destiny-bound for basketball or volleyball, having this peek into their genome may tempt parents to limit the sports choices for their son or daughter.

 

Even Mr. Reilly expressed his concern in the Times article: "I'm nervous about people who get back results that don't match their expectations," he said. "What will they do if their son would not be good at football? How will they mentally and emotionally deal with that?"

 

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/Finger_Length.jpg|height=200|width=80|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/Finger_Length.jpg|border=0! For those parents that are just not ready to discover the sports destiny of their child, or just want to save the $150, there is a much simpler alternative. Hold your son or daughter's hand, palm up. Measure the lengths of their index finger and their ring finger. Divide the former by the latter. According to John Manning, professor of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire, if the ratio is closer to .90 than 1.0, you may have a budding superstar.

 

Manning explains in his aptly named new book, "The Finger Book" (Faber and Faber, 2008),that the amount of a fetus' exposure to testosterone in the womb determines the length of the ring finger, while estrogen levels are expressed in the length of the index finger. According to Manning's theory, more testosterone means more physical and motor skill ability.

 

The digit ratio theory, as it is known, has been the subject of more than 120 studies to find its effect on athletic, musical and even lovemaking aptitude.

 

Don't worry if the ratio is closer to 1.0, which is by far the norm. Plus, you will be able to relax, enjoy your kids' sports events and only worry about their genetic disposition to being happy.

677 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: sports_science, sport_skills, youth_sports, sports_parents, actn3, athletic_gene, digit_ratio_theory


!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/PlaxicoBurress.jpg|height=285|width=420|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/PlaxicoBurress.jpg|border=0!


As first seen on LiveScience.com
and Sports Are 80 Percent Mental



From the "athletes behaving badly" department (in the past month, anyway):
•    NHL bad boy (Sean Avery) was suspended for six games for a crude remark.
•    Six NFL players were suspended for allegedly violating the league's drug policy.
•    Another NFL player (Adam "Pacman" Jones) returned to his team's roster after being suspended, again, for an off-field altercation.
•    Oh, and NFL receiver (Plaxico Burress) accidentally shot himself in a nightclub with a gun he was not licensed to carry. 

Despite the 24/7 media coverage of each of these incidents, sports fans have become accustomed to and somewhat complacent with hearing about athletes and their deviant acts.
In fact, new statistics reveal that bad behavior is clearly evident among high school athletes, particularly in high-contact sports.

It starts young
Besides the highly publicized stories, there are thousands more across the nation involving amateur athletes taking risks both on and off the field. From performance-enhancing supplements to referee/official abuse to fights, guns and recorded crimes, the image of sports as a positive influence on athletes may need a second look.

Granted, in a population of any size there will be a few bad apples. However, these actions have become so prevalent that academic researchers have created a branch of study called "deviance in sports" attached to the sports sociology tree. 

They are asking questions and challenging some assumptions about cause and effect. Is there a connection between sports participation and deviance? Does the intense competition and battle on the field shape a player's off-the-field lifestyle? Since success in sports brings attention and prestige to athletes, does the risk of losing that status cause a need to take risks to maintain their "top dog" positions?

In their new book, "Deviance and Social Control in Sport," researchers Michael Atkinson and Kevin Young emphasize the confusing environment surrounding athletes. They describe two types of deviance: wanted and unwanted.

Owners, players and fans may know that certain behaviors are literally against the rules but are at the same time appreciated as a sign of doing whatever it takes to win.  Performance-enhancing drugs are not allowed in most sports, but athletes assume they will improve their performance, which helps their team win and keeps fans happy. Fights in hockey will be, according to the rule book, penalized, but this deviance is assumed to be wanted by fans and teammates as a sign of loyalty.

However, related bad behavior can quickly turn on a player to being socially unwanted. 

 

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/seanavery.jpg|height=156|width=200|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/seanavery.jpg|border=0!Abuse of drugs that don't contribute to a win, (marijuana, cocaine, alcohol), will transform that same player into a villain with shock and outrage being reported in the media. In the Sean Avery example, a hockey player fighting to defend his teammates on the ice can then be suspended from the team and criticized by those same teammates for an off-color remark.

Real statistics
Most athletes who make it to the professional level have been involved in sports since youth. Sports sociologists and psychologists often look at the early development years of athletes to get a glimpse of patterns, social norms and influences that contribute to later behaviors.

In a recent American Sociological Review article, Derek Kreager, assistant professor of sociology at Penn State University, challenged the long-held belief that youth sports participation is exclusively beneficial to their moral character development. 

With the focus on teaching teamwork, fair play, and self esteem, sports are often cited as the antidote to delinquency. But Kreager notes that other studies have looked at the culture that surrounds high school and college athletes and identified patterns of clichés, privileges and attitudes of superiority. For some athletes, these patterns are used to justify deviant behavior.

In fact, his most recent research attempted to find a cause-and-effect link between deviant behavior and specific sports. Specifically, he asked if high-contact, physical sports like football and wrestling created athletes who were more prone to violent behavior off the field.

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, more than 6,000 male students from across 120 schools were included. The data set included a wide collection of socioeconomic information, including school activities, risk behaviors and at-home influences. Kreager's study analyzed the effects of three team sports (football, basketball, and baseball) and two individual sports (wrestling and tennis) on the likelihood of violent off-field behavior, specifically, fighting.

To isolate the effect of each sport, the study included control groups of non-athletes and those that had a history of physical violence prior to playing sports. 

For team sports, football players were 40 percent more likely to be in a confrontation than non-athletes. In individual sports, wrestlers were in fights 45 percent more often, while tennis players were 35 percent less likely to be in an altercation. Basketball and baseball players showed no significant bias either way.

"Sports such as football, basketball, and baseball provide players with a certain status in society," Kreager said. "But football and wrestling are associated with violent behavior because both sports involve some physical domination of the opponent, which is rewarded by the fans, coaches and other players. Players are encouraged to be violent outside the sport because they are rewarded for being violent inside it."

850 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: football, sports_science, sport_psychology, youth_sports, pacman_jones, physics_of_hockey, plaxico_burress, sean_avery, sports_parents, sports_violence