Short-term physiological preparation

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Warm up


  • Stage 1: pulse-raiser - introduce stress to the body in a gradual and controled manner.
  • Stage 2: injury prevention - reduce the risk of injury or increase flexibility by increasing localised muscle elasticity, most common is stretching.
  • Stage 3: skill practice - the neuromuscular mechanisms related to the activity are worked.
  • Stage 4: sport-specific - practicing specific skills and exertions similarly to those experienced in a game.

Types of stretching

  • Static- stretch muscle to its safe limit and hold position for 30 seconds
  • Dynamic- controlled movements taking the joint through its full range of movement
  • Ballistic- involvs momentum or bouncing to help forcibly stretch the muscle
  • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)- involvs passive stretching followed by isometric contractions (joint angle and muscle length do not change) 
  • Passive- assume a position and hold it with some part of your body or equipment
  • Active- stretching a muscle without any help

Intensity- athlete needs to work the intensity that will lead to all the responces needed for optimum performance in their chosen activity

Duration- duration is not set in minutes, its set in objectives, when objectives are met the warm-up is complete.

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Dietry manipulation

Athletic performance improves with the wise nutrition and crumbles with poor diet. So it is important, if not essential, for any serious athleteto give due consideration to their diet.b This involves ensuring that:

  • adequate fuel is consumed to facilitate the intensity and duration of training
  • fuel stores are full before a performance
  • fuel stores are supplemented during the activity as required
  • fuel stores are replenished immediately after the end of exercise
  • supplementation is undertaken to ensure the body can utilise the nutrients required
  • adequate hydration is maintained, before and during performance
  • adequate protein is consumed to enable the necessary growth and repair of muscle tissue
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Carbohydrate loading

"a legal method of attempting to boost the amount of glycogen in the body before a competition or event"

The body has to be convinced that adapting is in its best interests because that is the easiest and most effective way of proceeding.

For the body to need to increase its muscle glycogen levels it must be stressed, the stress will not come from depleting the curreny stores as this is what happens in regular training.

The body is usually refuelled with carbohydrates immediately after exercise, so if the refuelling process does not take place it will cause a new stress for the body - potentially enough stress to encourage it to hold on to additional carbohydrates, in the form of muscle glycogen the next time they become available.

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Water is the single most important nutrient to an athlete.

As water is lost through sweat there is also the problem of electrolytes being lost with it, the most important electrolyte lost is sodium.

A consequence of this is that water alone will not be sufficient to rehydrate the performer.

Electrolytes are often essential minerals, they control osmosis of water between body compartments and help maintain the acid-base balance required for normal cellular activities.

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Creatine loading

Ingesting larger quantities than normal enhances muscular performance.

Ingesting creatine can increase the level of phosphocreatine (PC) in the muscles by upto 20%.

Creatine has no significant effect on aerobic endurance, though it will increase power during anaerobic exercise. Creatine is often taken by athletes who wish to build up muscle mass e.g. bodybuilders.

Rapi weight gains have been found to occur in athletes who are taking the supplements - but the reason for the weight gain is unclear. Some say it is due to water retention, others argue it is down to the addition of lean muscle mass.

Creatine is not doping and is not banned by the majority of sport governing bodies. However, in the USA the National Collegiate Athletic Association rexcently ruled that colleges could not provide creatine supplements to their players, although the players are still allowed to use creatine independently. In some countries e.g. France creatine use is banned.

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Environmental factors that influence preparation a

Factors such as:

  • temperature
  • humidity
  • altitude
  • pollution
  • prevailing winds
  • playing surface

Example: US boxer Hasim Rahman oulled off one of the most stunning upsets in boxing history in 2001, defeating the undisputed world champion Lennox Lewis, the altitude of the fight location in South Africa was help partly responsible.

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Heat adaptation

Heat acclimatisation - the body apadpting to its surrounding, can take place in upto 14 days  

  • Hot climates - body needs to maintain core temp so it doesnt overheat
  • Cold climates - athlete needs to consider extra clothing and the extra weight and drag which comes along with it, it could also lead to additional sweating which needs to be met by hydration strategies

Adapting to humid heat - humidity of air prevents evaporation of perspiration to an extent which may lead to overheating

Adapting to dry heat (dessert heat) - the environment evaporates moisture much better which brings the risk of dehydration as the athlete doesnt know how much they are sweating

Main benefit of heat acclimatisation is an improved tolerance of heat, allowing athlete to perform better without suffering from heat related illnesses

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Hydration planning


  • With water loss also comes the problem of electrolyte loss, the most important electrolyte is sodium
  • A consequence of this is water alone will not be enough to rehydrate the performer
  • Electrolytes control the osmosis of water between body components and help maintain the acid-base balence required for normal cellular activities


  • If you become thirsty during performance you will not be able to hydrate yourself fully without stopping exercise
  • Drinking plain water causes bloating and surpresses thrist and thus further drinking, it stimulates urine ouput and so inefficiently retained
  • Electrolytes in a drink, especially sodium and potassium, will reduce urine output, enable the fluid to empty quickly from the stomach, promote absorbtion from the intestine and encourage fluid retention
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Increase in plasma volume

  • An increased production of plasma proteins, added to the increased concentration of electrolytes such as sodium chloride, produces a tempory increase in blood plasma volume
  • This increase is likely during the first 5 days of exercise and heat exposure, but is temporary, with levels reverting to normal during days 8-14 of heat acclimatisation
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Effects of altitude

  • Aerobic performance at altitude is more difficult, so rates of performance decline when when compared with those at sea level
  • At altitude the partial pressur eof oxygen is reduced, this leads to a reduction in the driving pressure for oxygen transport
  • The greater the altitude the greater the severity of hypoxia (a shortage in oxygen in the body) and the more difficult the subsequent performance
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