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Overview Of Assessments In Sports


Assessments are the first tools an instructor, coach or healthcare professional has to analyze an athlete. These assessments can be physical movement, balance, visual, psychological, memory, learning, flexibility and conditioning.

Physical assessments are the most basic and incorporate such measures as height, weight, range of motion, general flexibility and body type, as well as specific assessments of biomechanics that are required for success of the specific sport.

These physical assessments help define the abilities, but more importantly, the weaknesses for performing athletic activity. These problems when recognized become the roadmap for correction with the goal of fixing the problem, which then in turn improves athletic performance.

Injury identification is also important in physical assessment screens. Certain injuries are common within each sport. In golf, the low back rates as the number one cause of injury; whereas, the shoulder and upper arm injuries are second. Injury screens identify the variations between the male and female physiques as well as other particular variations in anatomy.

The age of the individual is also important in injury identifications as flexibility and conditioning are compromised for an older individual and the prevalence and incidents of injuries do change based on age.

All injuries need to be evaluated for they compromise movement above and below the level of the injury. Additionally, surgical techniques have greatly advanced to correct trauma but create adhesions and limitations in movement, which then affects the overall biomechanics of athletic performance.

Joint surgeries for orthopedics have a dramatic effect of performance but more importantly the proper rehabilitation and balanced conditioning is critical for them to return back to that activity.

The instructor coach needs to be well educated in the limitations or changes biomechanically that will result as a direct result of successful injury management or surgery. These modifications need to be instructional yet supportive for the athlete to return to athletic performance.

Finally, the learning memory mental preparedness is critical to one’s ability to have success in instruction. Any frustration or anxiety will limit the learning process. Frequently, methods of yoga and meditation have been used to help facilitate learning as well as performance. Similarly some herbal medications have shown to reduce anxiety and optimize motor learning.

Those individuals who develop physical symptoms of shakiness, nausea, a fast heart rate or arrhythmias may also benefit from medications—beta blockers that are prescribed by physicians to help control these symptoms of anxiousness.

Visual learning is critical for activities that require good eye-hand coordination. Visual learning with proper motor learning helps facilitate quicker muscle memory and minimizes variations in athletic technique. Mental preparation for the athlete is critical for performance. Practice to the point of proper muscle memory and  proper execution are the best preparation to eliminate anxiety and fear.

Unfortunately, other techniques such as alcohol consumption and elicit drug use have been tried to help calm the nerves and reduce anxiety; however, these destructive habits have also caused a demise in athletic performance over the long run as well as damage to reputations.

Assessment of children has been done specific to sports. X-rays can help identify skeletal growth maturation of the bones to predict height. Variations in skeletal growth maturation explain athletic ability differences in adolescence. Age versus ability analysis can be best illustrated in little league baseball where you have 12-year-olds with skeletal growth maturation of a 14-year-old participating.

These 12-year-olds with growth maturity of 14-year-olds excel and create a championship team. However, at the age of 18 when both athletes have matured in their skeletal growth, the premature growth maturing athletes that were successful at age 12 do not show that consistent success.

Additionally, other measures of children physical assessments and psychological assessments need to be carefully weighed since the maturation process accelerates and varies between the ages of 10 and 16 on the musculoskeletal, hormonal and psychological determinates.


Should you have any further questions regarding this article, please direct your questions or comments to "Ask the Doctor" section.



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Board Certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation










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