February 21, 2007

Sports Performance in Shooting

Rohit Singh or "Ronnie" to all his clients is professional friend in my field. Why Professional, well he is a friend in the most professional way. I met him two years ago in Delhi. He is a sports Trainer and in my opinion India's best sports Trainer and performance Nutritionist. I like him because he has no ego and goes about his Job as a professional. And thats the reason I work with Guys like him is because Athletes tend to have too hard an ego once they get good!!

He trains Major Rathore and I wont be surprised if they get the Gold back at the Beijing Olympics. But enough said about them. Let me tell you about one of my personal counsellings With Vikram Bhatnagar. Great Guy. Commonwealth Gold!!! Normal Guy. No performance Nutrition. He want me to change is Diet to suit his lifestyle......Well I tried to first understand this budding sport so here goes......

In most sports today, the gap between 1st, 2nd and 3rd places is often in the region of hundredths of a second or perhaps one or two tenths of a percentage point. So what makes one person a winner and another a runner up? Most athletes train very hard and if you were to measure the physical characteristics of, let’s say two top 100 meter sprinters, you would probably find that they were of approximately equal strength, flexibility, stamina, etc. And if they weren't, a good coach would identify the differences and then institute a training programme that would address the particular issues.

So what makes one a consistent winner and the other consistently in 2nd place? Sports Sciences are the key to answering this question and by applying the correct sports science, improvements in performance can be found in many areas.

In pistol shooting, the most critical area of performance is the athlete's (shooters) mental abilities. Imagine giving a world champion shooter an out of the box gun, they'd probably still score far higher than most of us could in our dreams. Imagine then giving a novice shooter the best gun on earth, and I'm sure you will see that the equipment is only a small part of the equation.
Mental skills and mental skills training are often looked upon with suspicion by athletes who think there must be something wrong with them if they need to use Sport Psychology to improve their performance, but this is only a broad term to describe things like goal setting, relaxation training, visualization, anxiety control, focusing, activation levels, etc. Are you one of those people who can perform superbly at your home club in practice matches, but loose the plot when you go to big competitions? Sport Psychology can help you by developing skills to control your anxiety, get you properly prepared for competition, help you develop routines for use in practice which will then follow on to competition, leading of course to an improved performance.

There are of course many other aspects of Sport Sciences, which can help you improve your performance, and if each aspect gives you a small increase in score, then overall you may make significant gains. This might be all the difference between 1st and 2nd place.
Biomechanics is the study of the movement of the human body and can be used to make sure that you are moving in the most appropriate manner to achieve the optimal performance possible, to minimize the risks of injury and to utilize muscle to its best possible advantage. ISSF shooters require a precise knowledge of the human skeleton and musculature in order to achieve a physical posture that can be maintained for several hours without undue stress, which of course leads to reduced performance. The key is knowing what to do and why.
Nutrition is a factor that plays a large part in shooting performance, and what and how you eat before and during a competition can have a large impact on your final score. For example, how well do you shoot half an hour after lunch, or what happens if you have a fatty Tandoori Chicken for lunch?
Along with food factors, there is also the hydration issue. When you feel thirsty, you are already up to 10% dehydrated, and one of the first parts of your body to loose fluid is your eyeballs. As you can probably guess, our eyesight is critical in shooting sports and anything that affects our vision is going to affect our performance. But, taking a drink of water has an effect on our physiology, usually with increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, etc and this can have a short term effect on performance, especially in a precision sport like shooting. So how to stay hydrated without the physiological response? Take very little sips often. Better to be slightly over hydrated than dehydrated. There are dozens of nutritional issues for shooters, and you can work many of them out for yourself, or you can speed the process up by consulting an expert. Of course you may have to pay for the expert, but when you offset that against the cost of years of experimentation, you may find it worthwhile in the long run.

Coaching science, Exercise physiology and Injury rehabilitation are all areas of sports sciences which you can utilize to improve your performance, assuming of course that you do want better scores. And if you're happy with your shooting ability, but want to increase your enjoyment of your sport, and then sport sciences can also help, as what happens in sport often closely mirrors what happens in life. For example if you learn to cope with competitive stress in sport, then that ability will help you cope with stress in life. Conversely, if you need to set goals in life, such as loosing weight, sport sciences can help, and those skills gained will be equally valid in sport. However you look at it, the use of sport sciences can help you, both in life and sport, and I hope this brief introduction will encourage some of you to look outside the square of what you are doing now and to use the knowledge that is available to improve the quality of whatever it is that you may want to change.
In all AMINONUTRITION is the latest in sporting science and I highly recommend every athlete, whether physical or mental domination is the name of his game to try out pure free form amino acids to boost their mental alertness during grueling events. One of the most important amino acids in mental focus during intensive exercise is the Branched Chain Amino Acids - BCAA. BCAA’s comprise of almost 35- 40 % of muscle mass and science today has found that delivery of these amino acids along with other ergogenic amino acids during any sporting activity are the key to delivering a performance of the highest Caliber.
Although I am not part of the shooting fraternity I did watch the Olympics closely and understood that the game demands a huge amount of Muscle strength and Co-ordination during prolonged competition rounds. I tried this at home. I took a heavy pipe and held it up for 30 secs then put it down. I then proceeded to do this about a hundred times over an Hour. By the end of Twenty minutes my shoulders and Forearm were shaking in an aftershock of Lactic acid build up.
Ah! The proverbial Lactic ACID phenomena. One may ask how this affects a game where mental focus is the only avenue of precision development.
Well sports science has an answer. When you use your muscles in any activity no matter what the sports the physical activity causes a drop of amino acids in the Blood. This increases the Tryptophan level (another Amino acids). One can say that Tryptophan is the Bad Guy and it enters the Brain to produce a hormone called Serotonin which in turns causes fatigue and tiredness. Warm milk is an excellent source of Tryptophan and causes one to sleep easier. Remember the Grandmother advising a glass of milk before Bed.
However Tryptophan increase in an athlete during training and competition can be reduced by increasing BCAA’s content in the blood. Free form amino acids are the best way as they enter the Bloodstream within 15- 20 minutes of consumption.
In today’s world the right quality and the right type of nutrition will help an athlete go from Bronze to Gold!!


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