Factors That Affect One's Performance in Sports

Hours of training, a proper diet and the right apparel do not guarantee superior performance in the field, on the court or in the gym. If you find yourself training harder than ever but you still aren't making desired gains, examine your habits and environment for answers. If you still come up empty, consult a physician.


According to The National Institutes of Health, a portion-controlled diet of healthy nutrients fuels exercise better than a diet filled with refined sugars that cause sudden drops in energy. Prior to the start of exercise, consume complex carbohydrates for a long-lasting energy burn; improve future athletic sessions by consuming additional carbohydrates and lean proteins following exercise. Carbohydrates rebuild glycogen stores, so consuming them makes it easier for your body to produce energy later; protein helps your body grow lean muscle mass. Finally, dehydration can reduce energy; drinking water or a sports drink before, during and after exercise keeps your energy level steady and strong.

Environmental Conditions

Muscle Soreness the Day After Drinking Liquor

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The NATO Research and Technology Organisation confirms that athletic performance is not only determined by conditioning and nutrition. Extrinsic factors such as air temperature and altitude also affect athletes' performances. While a federal study found that hot temperatures do not affect energy output -- provided the subjects hydrated adequately -- activities performed in cold climates or at high altitudes required much greater energy reserves. Steep and mountainous terrain specifically increases metabolic rate and ventilation rate but decreases the ability to sleep -- a dangerous combination. The study found that increasing carbohydrate consumption improved performance as well as mental focus.


While moderate alcohol consumption may provide health benefits, abuse reduces athletic performance. According to the University of Georgia, a strong correlation exists between excessive consumption and lack of strength, power, aerobic performance and motor skills. Alcohol affects the body's organs and the central nervous and cardiovascular systems; it also reduces muscle energy stores. Consuming more than five drinks in one sitting causes these negative effects for several days, and longer in the case of chronic abuse. Alcohol intensifies dehydration during athletics and slows reaction times, reduces running and cycling ability, decreases grip strength and speeds fatigue. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends alcohol avoidance for at least 48 hours prior to athletic events.

Your Body and Performance

Effects of Alcohol on Sports Performance

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The NATO Research and Technology Organisation study also confirmed what many already know: factors such as age, body composition, gender and genetic makeup affect athletic performance. As humans age, they lose muscular strength, making weight-bearing exercise training a vital part of any older adult's fitness routine. Heavier subjects could not perform at the same level as their fitter counterparts, and while women may not make the same strength gains as men, they adapt to fitness routines and experience physique changes easier. Finally, the body type you were born with plays a major role in performance. As opposed to heavier endomorphs or skinny ectomorphs, mesomorphs make fast gains in strength, endurance and overall fitness.