Competition in sports 5. 2.

Author: Ladislav Mesarič

Keywords: competition, weather conditions, overload, principle of specificity, principle of progressive development, continuity principle, principle of individuality

Experts acknowledge the importance of sports and recreation in the successful rehabilitation of people with different types of disabilities. Adapted sports and recreational activities offer an opportunity for success in a very short time. Success has a positive impact on self-esteem and focus on opportunities, rather than dealing with what is no longer possible. The ability to participate in sport offers the opportunity to reunite with family and friends in a joint venture (Sherrill, 2003).

People get engaged in various sports activities in order to improve their health, well-being and working abilities. Many of them are not satisfied with just being active. They want to compare their abilities with others at sports competitions. Increased interest in sports has led to the development of competitive systems for people with disabilities. Different regulations and classifications have been developed for individual sports, enabling people with disabilities to compete under the same conditions. The classification of disability is numerous and diverse, some are based on the cause of disability, others on the affected body parts such as arms, legs, heart etc. (Aleksandrović, 2016).

Dealing with competitive sports irrespective of gender and age requires proper preparation for competition. In the case of persons with disabilities, specific limitations arising from the nature of their disability should be taken into account. These limitations must be taken into account both in the choice of sport and in the choice of training assets. Every chosen sport has its own laws and necessary adjustments. In any case, the general principles of sports training apply to all athletes, with or without disability.

Many authors have defined different principles that basically overlap. As a rule, they refer to the frequency, intensity, duration and type of sports activity. Frequency describes how often a person deals with a certain sport activity. The intensity of the exercise is the strength with which the individual perform a sport. It represents a key point in training planning. It depends on the maturity of the individuals involved, the current form, the personal goals of athletes and many other factors. The duration describes how long the training should last to get the proper results. The duration is inversely proportional to the intensity of training. We cannot train for a long time at a high level of intensity. However, the development of aerobic abilities requires a longer duration with an appropriate lower intensity. The type of exercise relates to the way or form of how a sports exercise is performed. Aerobic abilities can be practised by walking, cycling and other continuous activities. We can gain power with weights, exercises with our own weight, and other exercises where we overcome external resistance. Different types of exercise are crucial for involving different people into sports activities, each meeting their own needs and goals. Of course, different sports disciplines have their own specific features. However, this principle is well established (Ayers & Sariscsany, 2013; Bompa & Haff, 2009).

The most common are the following principles (Ayers & Sariscsany, 2013):

The overload principle

The principle of overload refers to the fact that the individual needs to be burdened more than usual for it to make changes or positive adaptation to the training. Progress is achieved by the gradual burden of physical systems with specific exercises and training schedule. Overload is a positive stress, which is achieved by increasing the intensity of training, increasing the number of training sessions, increasing the duration of each training.

The principle of progressive development

Good sports condition cannot be achieved in a short time. Body systems have their own limitations in terms of the speed of adapting to the training load. Loads must be gradual. If a load increases in a short time, it can lead to fatigue and damage. By contrast, insisting on a certain degree of burden without a gradual increase leads to stagnation as a result of reduced adaptation to training.

Principle of specificity

The sports training program must be adapted to the desired result. Training improves only those skills that we train and have a slight influence on other abilities. We need to choose the appropriate exercises. It does matter, however, which exercises we perform. If we want to improve the strength of the hands, we will choose strengthening hand exercises, we will increase the mobility by stretching the part of the body, where the mobility is reduced, and the aerobic abilities will be trained with long-term continuous activities.

Continuity principle

Sports training should be carried out regularly so that we can get proper results. As the organism gradually adjusts to the load and reaches the appropriate fitness level, at reduced activity body is adapted to it and the fitness reduces. This training principle helps to understand why lifelong sport activities are so important.

Principle of individuality

People who are involved in sports have different physical characteristics and biological potentials for change. Coaching takes into account a variety of factors and has different objectives. Opportunity for individually selecting a sports program is crucial for creating lifelong habits of engaging in sports.

Recommendations for physical activity

Regardless of the above recommendations, it is necessary to know how many physical activities we need in order to achieve our goals and consequently adjust our training plan accordingly.

Physical activity that provides a variety of health benefits consists of dynamic and rhythmic contractions of large muscle groups that transmit the body at a distance or act against gravity with moderate intensity over a long period of time in which the body consumes 200 to 400 kilo calories (or 4 kilo calories per kilogram of body weight). For optimal health benefits, such (aerobic) activity should be carried out every day or at least every other day, and should be supplemented by strength and mobility exercises (Haskell et al., 1985).

Competitors with higher ambitions need to find appropriate professional help.

Recommendations for exercising individual motor skills in an adaptive sports exercise programme

The following tables describe the application of training principles for flexibility, strength and aerobic endurance.

The mobility and extent of movement depend on various factors. These may be anatomical (joint shape, tendon characteristics) or are conditioned by neuromuscular factors. The latter are common in adapted sports practice (e.g., spasticity). The usual exercises for flexibility are performed in the form of static stretching (Kasser, 2013)

Training variables

General recommendation


Before and after activity, minimum 3x per week


Individually depending on the abilities, should not cause pain


10-30 seconds, 2-3 repetition of each exercise


Static stretching, dimanic stretching as preparation for sports training


Careful movement of the stretching points, increasing of the number of repetition and duration of stretching


Slow and easy progress, first bigger muscle groups, then extreme and small muscle groups.

Application of training principles for flexibility (Kasser, 2013)

Training variables

General recommendation


3-4 x per week with one day break during the exercise days


Easy or medium 40-0% of the maximum effort


3-5 series, 3-7 repetition for strength and 12-20 repetition for endurance


Exercises with own weight, exercises with resistance


For strength we gradually increase the resistance, for endurance increase the number of repetition or duration of repetition or decrease the duration of break between series


Gradually as trying to avoid injuries

Application of training principles for muscular strength and endurance in strength (Kasser, 2013)

Training variables

General recommendation


3-5 per week


55-90% of maximum heart rate (depending on the abilities)


15-60 minutes (in time it could be increased)


Walking, running, swimming … continuous activities


Increased speed, time or temp


We predict gradual progress in the individual plan.

Application of training principles for training aerobic abilities (Kasser, 2013)

Less is more

Successful training is not just the final goal. The aim is to achieve optimal results with optimum amount of training. We do not need to train until pain and injuries occur. Training is usually strenuous and often unpleasant, but pain is not a regular companion. If it occurs regularly, it should be treated seriously. Unpleasant feelings in particular parts of the training may occur due to the release of lactic acid, which monitors anaerobic activity, weight lifting and interval training. Fatigue and pain may also occur due to micro-lesions in the muscles. Delayed muscular fatigue and pain that occur 24 hours or more after activity are not a result of lactic acid. Lactic acid is removed rapidly by the blood circulation quickly after the activity. Activity-related pain usually occurs after new activities and in when some activities have not been performed for a long time and are probably related to the micro traumas of the muscles and connective tissue.

Organization of training hours

Each training session must be systematically organized and consist of a warm-up, main training activity and cool down. This approach helps the athlete to gradually prepare for the main loads and gradually reduce the load before the end of the training so that there are no fast transitions from one part to another.


Warm-up is a low-intensity sports activity that takes place before an intense main part of the training and serves for preparation of the body and mind to what follows in the main part. Regular and thorough implementation of warm-up can significantly reduce the likelihood of sport related injuries.

The main part of the training

The main part of the training is the key part in which we acquire new knowledge and improve one or more components of the sports shape. By following the basic principles of training we develop motor skills and elements of sports games. The main part can have one or two main contents.

Final part of the training (cooling)

The final part of the training consists of low-intensity activities and rests. It usually consists of continuous low-intensity aerobic activity. Sometimes stretching is also included. It is also recommended to do a short analysis of the work done and to help further training.

Exaggeration and exercise dependence

Although inactivity is a far greater problem, overloading during training can lead to overtraining in active people. This is the state of the reduced ability of the immune system to resist infection. Symptoms of overtraining are low motivation, fatigue, insomnia, poor results, loss of appetite and poor health. Symptoms come gradually, so overtraining is difficult to detect. The reasons may be the following: boring and overloaded training, rapid weight loss, inadequate nutrition and inadequate hydration. Overtraining is treated by reducing the volume and intensity of training, and in many cases with complete rest.

The influence of the environment on the training process

Environmental effects, such as heat, cold, humidity, altitude and poor air, can have a strong impact on health and sports achievement. If we do not pay attention to the environment, serious problems can arise, which may end up with death. On the other hand, we can adapt to the circumstances, which makes it easier for us to work, improves the effect, and helps us to survive comfortably in different circumstances (Sharkey et al., 2008).

Sport activity in higher outdoor temperature

During sports activity at high temperatures, we can only regulate the temperature balance with circular adaptation and sweating mechanisms for a short time. The body absorbs heat when the outside temperature exceeds the temperature of the skin. When the air humidity is low, the heat balance is controlled by sweating, and when the humidity is high, the sweat does not evaporate quickly enough, the heat is not released quickly enough, the temperature of the body grows and endangers the working abilities and in extreme cases the life of the athlete. Therefore, it follows from this that there is a logical advice to avoid great efforts at high outdoor temperatures. If we cannot avoid high temperatures and moisture, we must adapt to such situation. People who live in such environment are usually adapted to these conditions. People from different backgrounds usually adapt within five to ten days. The key principal is hydration and the input of minerals. Liquids need to be introduced several times during the activity. Minerals cannot be compensated by the introduction of clean water. Water rinses the minerals from the body. We can help with sports drinks rich in carbohydrates and electrolytes.

Activities in the cold

Since the metabolic processes of the human body produce heat during sport activities, low temperatures are not as dangerous as high. If athletes are exposed to low temperatures for a long time, frostbite can occur, and extreme exposures may lead to hyperthermia and death. The intense muscular activity in cold weather consumes significantly more energy than in the normal environment. Individuals who train in the cold weather should have enough energy when they are at risk. The feeling of fatigue is the first step to hypothermia. Cold wind increases the rate of heat loss. Athletes can themselves cause the effect of cold wind, when on skies, skates as they are rapidly moving towards the wind. In cases where you are dealing with sports in a cool environment, you should be adequately protected, especially the distal parts of the body, eyes and nose. People who regularly engage in sports activities in the cold are psychologically and physiologically adapted to low temperatures and enjoy winter activities despite the cold. It is especially important that during winter activities, due to sweating and breathing fluids lost are always replaced. For longer activities, it is also necessary to have an appropriate amount of calories from snacks and energy drinks.

Activities at a higher altitude

Although a healthy person may not notice this; saturation of arterial oxygen decreases already at an altitude of 1500 m. But as we climb more, the pressure of oxygen in the lungs decreases as air pressure decreases. Under such conditions, oxygen cannot be properly attached to the blood, only a small amount of oxygen is transferred to the tissues, and these are forced to adapt to the new conditions. As a result, aerobic abilities associated with endurance are always reduced at higher altitudes.

Athletes who train and live at normal altitudes must prepare properly for performance at higher altitudes. They can do this by spending time in “climatic chambers”. These are rooms or chambers that simulate high-altitude conditions. Athletes should be at the competition location at least three weeks prior to the competition in order to adapt to the conditions properly.

Avoiding bad air

Sport activity increases the amount of air we breathe. Injuries due to bad air are proportional to the amount of exposure time to the polluted air; therefore, they need to reduce the time of activity in a polluted environment or to avoid such activities completely and find another option. Air pollution is different in many areas and depends heavily on traffic, industry and season. In large cities with constant pollution, an adequate alternative is indoor exercise with an appropriate air purification system. Although polluted air is a serious problem in some places, cigarette smoke contains the highest amount of harmful substances. This irritates bronchial pathways, reduces resistance to bronchial infections, causes bronchitis and hinder oxygen transportation, causes lung disease, cardiovascular problems, and many other problems. Smoking unlike industrial pollution, is a matter of personal choice.


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