Major Funding The Laura Moore Cunningham Foundation

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Sports Physiology: Facts

What Makes An Athlete?

Number 1

Are they born as record breakers? In sports, making it to the top requires hard work and dedication at many levels. There is no one thing that will make you a great athlete. It is a combination of many factors that make a great athlete!

Being fit, eating right, having talent, and a desire to succeed are some of the factors involved in being a great athlete. And yes, even Science!


Toe Touch

There are many forms of exercise — riding your bike, playing ball, roller blading, or taking a hike. The possibilities are endless. Besides making you into a great athlete, exercise is good for you! Exercise makes us healthy by increasing our strength, endurance and flexibility.


In addition to these benefits, exercise increases the blood flow throughout your body. By exercising you make your heart, lungs, and body stronger and healthier. These are all very important components of becoming a great athlete!

Eating Right


For your body to be strong and healthy you need to eat right! One way to do this is to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups. But not every body needs the same kind or amount of food.

Your body's needs are dependent upon your age, your level of activity, and your general health. Please visit Choose My Plate to find out what foods are right for you and your family. Then enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and lean meats. Milk and milk products are always part of a healthy diet. The USDA also encourages people to limit fats and sugars.

Healthy Food

For more information visit the Science Trek Nutrition site.

Having Talent and Desire


Sure it takes talent to be a great athlete. But that talent is usually backed by years of practice.

Great athletes are not created overnight. You have to practice, practice and practice some more. Persistence is the key.

The desire to succeed comes from having a healthy mind, body and attitude!

More Desire


Sometimes having the desire is not enough to make an athlete successful.

Being an athlete and wanting to do your best takes a certain amount of positive thinking and mental focus. Coaches and other athletes can be a great resource for improving your game. Be sure to listen to their expert advice — but listen to your parents too. They know you better than anyone. And most of all have fun.

Science in Sports


So how does science relate to sports? Take the example of throwing a football. Throwing relies on principles of physics such as velocity (speed), mechanics (how things move), force (energy applied to an object), and the list goes on and on! Check out the scientific principles behind many sports-related activities at the Exploratorium's Sport Science site.

Science is also involved in the prevention and treatment of injuries related to sports. Athletic trainers, coaches and physical therapists train athletes on how to exercise safely to prevent injuries based upon research on how the body moves and heals. If you do get injured playing sports, science will come to the rescue in the form of doctors and physical therapists who will treat your injury and help you rehabilitate so you can get back to playing your favorite sport!


Many scientists, sports physicians and physical therapists study how the body works and moves. This field of study is known as biomechanics. What these researchers and trainers learn about biomechanics enables them to help athletes jump higher, run faster, dive deeper, and hit harder. And, by using computers, scientists are able to try out and model different kinds of movements in a virtual environment and then advise athletes on the movements that will best improve their performance in the real world!

So . . . with a little science you can become a better athlete!

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