Physical Education - Biological and socio-cultural factors affecting
Biological and socio-cultural factors affecting performance
This resource looks at the biological factors (anatomical and
physiological) and socio-cultural factors that affect performance.
There are a number of biological factors which may lead to limitations on
* There are biological differences between the sexes which can be related
to differences in performance, for example, males have a 10% greater VO2
max. than females, therefore, they will generally have an advantage in
* Males have a greater muscle mass than females, therefore, males have an
advantage in strength and power events. They do not, (as some students
like to put it), 'have more muscles'. This type of statement indicates you
are not able to explain clearly the reason men are, on average, stronger
and more powerful. Males have a greater cross sectional area of muscle when
compared to females on average. (In fact, males and females have the same
number of muscles!)
* Females have a greater level of flexibility on average and
therefore have an advantage in performance in sports like gymnastics.
* The generally longer levers in males and physically mature athletes
gives an advantage in force production when compared to females or younger
less physically mature athletes.
* Increased level of body fat in females has distinct advantages in extra
buoyancy for swimming - many ultra distance swimmers are female, for
example, Tammy Van Wisse.
* Biological factors change as we age, and be able to describe how age
affects biological performance, for example, our VO2 max. decreases by
approximately 1% each year over the age of 30, as does our maximal heart
rate  - this decline obviously has an effect on our performance of
endurance  and aerobic  activities.
* Somatotyping can affect performance in a range of sports - as you are
aware, certain body types are more suited to certain activities.
Mesomorphic characteristics suit strength and power  events with
ecto/meso characteristics related to female gymnasts and middle distance
* Rugby league forwards tend to be meso endomorphs. Whilst there are
certain exceptions to this classification, there is no doubt that an
individual's inherited body type has a strong influence on the potential
level of success they can achieve in certain sports.
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