by Thomas Kurz
An educated instructor individualizes training loads for individual members of a group during a workout and varies instruction to match personality traits of individuals in the group. Here are some of the factors necessitating individualization of sports training.
Body structure (somatic type). The size and proportions of the body determine what sports one can succeed at, and what techniques and tactics one should employ. The length of an arm outstretched forward with a clenched fist decides the choice of tactics most suiting a boxer. The amount of turnout in a hip joint, shoulder and lumbar mobility, and height projected on the basis of the parents’ height, are used in selecting children for gymnastics. The strength and flexibility of legs and the amount of turnout in a hip joint determine what types of grappling throws (hand throws, hip throws, leg throws), or what type of kicks (high or low, front, side, or roundhouse, head-on or spinning), a fighter will specialize in.
The greater the variety of techniques and tactics in a given sport, the greater is the variety of body types (somatotypes) and sizes among successful athletes. The fewer the ways a victory can be achieved, the less differences there are among the athletes’ body build. And so there are more differences among the world’s best fighters (within any weight class in any combat sport) than among the world’s best sprinters.
Type of personality. Some athletes prefer to play in attack, some in defense. Some need a strict tactical plan, others do best if they can improvise. Individual preferences should be observed in choosing types of techniques and tactics most suitable for athletes and, in team sports, assigning athletes to their positions.
While an athlete’s temperament (one of the inborn features of personality) does not determine the outcome of competition, it determines the athlete’s choice of techniques and tactics. Athletes of different temperaments may achieve the same results but by using the different techniques and tactics that are well suited to each one’s temperament.
Another feature of personality—introversion or extroversion—determines teaching methods, the frequency of breaks during practice (less breaks for introverts, more for extroverts), speed of learning, frequency of workouts (greater for extroverts), and the force of stimulation (less for introverts, more for extroverts).
Extroverts need a lively pace of exercises, frequent changes in the form of exercises, speed, rhythm, and difficulty, and frequent breaks because after a short break the quality of an extrovert’s performance improves. They like to exercise in a large group and like teamwork. They prefer synthetic or holistic methods of learning skills. They respond well to decisive commands, and when at fault, to reprimands. When they compete, they respond well to cheering (Czajkowski 1996).
Introverts need a slower pace of exercises. They ought to repeat a given exercise for a long time, precisely, without changing it often, and with few breaks. They learn best with analytic or mixed analytic-synthetic methods. They benefit from exercising alone or one-on-one with the instructor. Explanation and gentle persuasion work best for introverts. Before and between performances, introverts need to concentrate alone, and do not respond well to rousing appeals to win at all costs (Czajkowski 1996).
Intelligence. The ability to learn technical and tactical skills depends on an athlete’s intellect. The technical and tactical skills of the athlete depend on his or her capacity to learn new movements and modify known ones, and his or her capacity for rational thinking, concentration, and divisibility of attention.
References are listed in Science of Sports Training (Kurz 2001).
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