July 11, 2009

The multi-dimensional approach to preparation for major athletic competitions

Professor Emmanuel Ojeme of the University of Benin, President of the National Association of Physical and  Health Education, Recreation, So and Dance (NAPHER.SD) as well as a member of the Vision 2020 Sports Thematic Group delivered this paper recently. Excerpts:

The moulding of human     motor performance is a primary objective of physical education. It is a fundamental quest of the physical education and sport profession to seek ways to enable man to reach his optimum level of motor performance. In this process however, human kinetic knowledge has been established to facilitate the attainment of this goal. Furthermore, the process of moulding human motor performance is a disciplined process and those who are involved in this process do not only have to formally possess the enabling principles but also develop the capacity to skillfully and ethically apply same to produce the result desired.

It is not always the case that the aforementioned disciplined approach is adhered to in preparing for competitions particularly in developing societies. The outcome of not adopting the multi_dimensional or multi_disciplinary approach is under performance. The purpose of this paper is to examine the concept of multi dimensionality in preparing for athletic competitions and its advantages.


•Prof. Ojome

•Prof. Ojome

A major athletic competition by my understanding, are the high profile competitions. These include, for example, the NUGA, W AUG, national championships, All Africa Games Common Wealth and Olympic Games. The expectation of participants is usually high in terms of performance output. The key actor in this setting is the athlete. And it is for his sake that athletic competitions are organized. At the elite level of engagement, the athlete must be an embodiment of the following features.

(1) The skill required for optimum performance, (2) Psychologically strong,  (3) Optimum fitness for the event (4) Nutritionally sound, (5) Possess high motivation,  (6) Well kitted, (7) Confidence of his welfare and (8) Healthy
Factorizing these athletic features in terms of personnel involvement or role, reveals that the following are principal actors.

(1) the coach , (2) sport psychologist, (3) sports medicine practitioner, (4) the sports Administrator and (5) sponsor.

Multi-dimensionality in preparing for athletic competitions is thus viewed from the inherent application of diversified knowledge by different professionals within the sport profession who work harmoniously to deliver the quality athlete for optimum performance. It is important at this juncture to further examine the role of each of these personnel as a means of knowing more about the multi_dimensional approach to preparing for major competitions.

1 The Coach

The coach is the facilitator of athletic performance. In summary, he modifies the athletes motor behaviours and prime it for optimum performance. He designs the training programmes and conducts training sessions during which the athlete is enabled to acquire outcome attributes. In this process, the coach applies the multi_disciplinary.
configuration of human movement epistemology to achieve the desired goal.

(2) The Sport Psychologist

Athletic performance is determined both by ability and the psychological condition of the individual. It is well known that an average athlete with superior psychological traits can pull_up high performance. This is so because the sport situation is psychologically challenging. The athlete is often coping with (a) Anxiety (b) Fear (c) Tension (d) Low motivation (e) Low confidence levels or (f) Over confidence.
The sports psychologist is required to stabilize the athlete and modulate his behaviour to elicit the right responses to the challenges of motor performance. The Sports psychologist unlocks the energy in the athlete for optimum performance.AN ADDRESS DELIVERED


(3) The Sports Medicine Practitioner

The athlete’s physical condition, fitness level and other biographic indices or parameters must be scientifically established. The sport medicine practitioner may be a medical doctor who specialized in dealing with the health condition of athletes, an exercise physiologist with training in macro and micro physiology or biochemistry of exercise, the physiotherapist and again the sports psychologist are all in this team. Their job is to evaluate the total condition of the athlete, conduct fitness tests before games and determine the goodness or fit of the athlete to perform.

The preparation of the athlete for a competition is not complete until the personal data of the athlete are available. No athlete ignores the views of sports scientists without adverse consequences.

(4) The Sports Administrator

The sports administrator also has his/her role to play. It is the sports administrator who provides the conducive atmosphere for sports to thrive. He ensures that the needs of the athlete in relation to the programme are met. He caters for the facilities, kitting of the athlete, and provides welfare for the athlete and officials. He collaborates with the coaches to arrange competition programmes and provides the resources to participate in them. The failure of the administrator or below-par performance can spell doom for athletes as well. He keeps the records, using lCT.

(5) The sponsors

Modem sports competition involving elite athletes have become products that are attractive to investors or corporate organizations. Hence, it is common to find partnership between sports and business. The business people invest cash on athletes or athletic competitions either as corporate social responsibility (C.S.R) or with the goal of making returns on investment (R.O.T). This partnership have made sports people to be able to perform under the best athletic conditions characterized by big money, quality welfare and infrastructure. Human performance has been significantly aided by the emergence of big money in sports through the involvement of entrepreneurs.
From the foregoing, it should be clear to us that the preparation for a major sports competition requires the involvement of different resource persons. The collaborative engagement of these resource persons, all for the sake of the athlete, is the sure way to achieve optimum results. On the other hand, the low involvement of these agents could also mean low performance.


The essence of adopting the multi_dimensional approach to sports competition is to ensure the best results in performance. Best performing athletic nations of the world excel in this strategy. In Developing countries, however, the adherence to the principle may not be very high. Could this, be responsible for our low output in sports in Nigeria, however, the following observations are made.

(1) Coaching.

The quality of coach training and education is low. The physical education teacher receives better training and education than coaches. It is amusing to observe that coaches spend very little time in training programmes to qualify for their job. It is not possible to train someone for nine months and be certified as able to carry on the job of moulding human performance.
•To be continued