Since the origins of Homo sapiens 300,000 years ago, the quest to optimize human performance has shaped historical development. A macrohistorical perspective reveals that for 290,000 years the necessities of survival pushed hunter-forager cultures toward mass improvement of endurance capabilities and weapons skills. The agricultural revolution that began about 10,000 years ago changed those dynamics, focusing on enhancement for elite warriors while simultaneously diminishing the necessity of mass optimization. The multiple revolutions of modernity that began 500 years ago reanimated mass optimization while paradoxically removing physical enhancement from the realm of necessity through the increasing power of human-made motors rather than human locomotion. Microhistorical perspectives reveal that beyond the general patterns that shaped human cultures across time and place, the historical particularities vastly complicated optimization strategies. Employing macro- and microhistorical perspectives can enhance scientific understandings of optimal performance.
Optimizing Human Performance—A Brief History of Macro and Micro Perspectives
Mark S. Dyreson
Recent Advances in Prevention of Primary and Secondary Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury: What Does the Future Hold for Optimizing Knee-Joint Function?
Sandra J. Shultz and Randy J. Schmitz
Despite considerable advances in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury-risk identification and prevention over the past 20 years, the annual incidence of ACL injury has continued to rise, and females remain at greater risk of both primary and secondary ACL injury. Important questions remain regarding ancillary risk factors we should target, the most effective training and rehabilitation approaches to ensure retention and transfer of learned skills from the rehabilitation setting to real-world sporting environment, and the development of more evidence-based criteria for return to sport that consider the whole athlete. As we look to the future, the optimization of primary and secondary ACL-injury prevention represents a complex, multidisciplinary problem with many unique and exciting opportunities to engage the various subdisciplines of kinesiology to address these emerging questions.
Regulators of Skill Development in School Physical Education
This paper identifies several factors that lie within and external to the teaching act that have an impact on the quality of instruction that students can potentially receive, which in turn has implications for the extent to which students can engage in appropriate practice. These factors all exist on a continuum from limiting to enhancing, and we could hypothesize that they regulate the possibilities for practice that are afforded to students and that this practice time is considered in the development of competent movers in physical education. These factors are contextual, such as time, class size, and teaching resources; curricular, relating to the content and pedagogy of physical education; and instructional, such as teacher effectiveness and content knowledge.
Sport Analytics: Science or Alchemy?
Sport analytics promises to use Big Data and sophisticated statistical methods to identify effective strategies in sports—“the Moneyball moment.” However, much like alchemy, sport analytics is characterized by opacity and secrecy, and outside of baseball, evidence of success that would meet the usual scientific criteria is limited. An example is used to demonstrate that quite simple models can match more complex ones in terms of prediction. Like alchemy, sport analytics can deliver important advances in our understanding, but some problems need to be addressed. These include the need to incorporate theory, reconciling the pursuit of profit with scientific principles, and focusing on prediction as a measure of progress.
Strength, Conditioning, and Nutritional Considerations for High-Level Performers
Richard B. Kreider
Strength, conditioning, and nutrition play an important role in preparing athletes to perform to the best of their ability. For this reason, nearly all competitive teams employ strength and conditioning specialists to prepare their athletes for competition, and most teams have sport dietitians and/or nutrition consultants as part of their performance-enhancement team. Academic and professional preparation of strength and conditioning and sport-nutrition specialists in kinesiology programs has opened up a number of career opportunities for students and scholars. In addition, advances in technology have enhanced the ability of strength and conditioning specialists and sport nutritionists to monitor athletes during training and competition. This paper provides an overview of the history, professional preparation, program components, and general principals of strength and conditioning and sport nutrition and the impact they have had on high-level performance, as well as future trends in these fields.
Understanding and Controlling Cortical Activity for Superior Performance
Chih-Yen Chang and Tsung-Min Hung
Previous studies have revealed that several cortical signatures are associated with superior motor performance in sports, particularly precision sports. This review examined the strength of the evidence from these studies so that a clear conclusion could be drawn and a concrete direction for future efforts revealed. A total of 26 articles assessing the relationship between cortical activity and precision motor performance were extracted from databases. This review concluded that among the electroencephalographic components examined, only sensorimotor rhythm demonstrated a consistent and causal relationship with superior precision motor performance, whereas findings related to the left temporal alpha and frontal theta and alpha rhythms were not consistent and lacked the evidence needed to draw a causal inference for a role in superior precision motor performance. Future studies would benefit from methodological improvements including larger sample sizes, narrower skill-gap comparisons, evidenced-based and refined neurofeedback-training protocols, and consideration of ecological validity.
What Is the Value of Pursuing Optimal Athletic Performance?
Cesar R. Torres
If only indirectly and by comparison with other, supposedly more consequential, social undertakings, sport and athletic commitment continue to be denounced as trivial in contemporary society. Against the backdrop of this abiding trivialization, this paper explores the value found in committing to athletic excellence or, using the terminology of the 2019 National Academy of Kinesiology’s annual conference, in pursuing optimal athletic performance. The author introduces and explains 6 kinds of value found in this commitment and pursuit. While these values can be conceptualized independently, they need not be thought of as mutually exclusive. Not only are the values comparably significant, but they might also overlap and combine in various forms and to different degrees. In some cases, they might develop concurrently. Before introducing the values, the author briefly conceptualizes both optimal performance and sport, because sound analysis depends on conceptual clarity.
Is the Profession of Sport Psychology an Illusion?
The overarching purpose of the current article was to examine the status of sport psychology as a profession in 4 ways. First, the author characterizes the profession of sport psychology as an illusion because there is so little demand for sport psychology services and because there are so few full-time practicing sport psychologists. Second, paradoxically, it appears that many people assume that applied sport psychology is a healthy and viable profession, so the author comments on why this is the case. Sidestepping the lack of jobs does a disservice to graduate students who believe they can easily become practicing sport psychologists. Third, it is clear that few athletes or teams want to pay for sport psychology services, so some reasons why this is the case are presented. Fourth, the author speculates about the future of the sport psychology profession, followed by some recommendations that would rectify his claim that the field’s relative silence on this issue does a disservice to students.
Academic Bullying: Taking the Hallway Chats to the Level of Formalized Policy
Karen S. Meaney and Sonya L. Armstrong
Bullying in any context adversely affects individuals and organizations. Although bullying is typically conceived of as an issue specific to children in schoolyards, adult bullying is widespread, and the literature on workplace bullying continues to emerge as a scholarly focus. More specifically, academic bullying in higher-education institutions has been identified as an area of particular interest. Considerable literature exists that addresses definitions, characteristics, and effects of faculty bullying; however, the literature is scant regarding effective practice and policy that explicitly aim to prevent academic bullying. Furthermore, although this is a topic often discussed informally on university campuses, it does not appear to be addressed explicitly in formalized institutional policies. In this manuscript, the authors provide the findings of the initial stages of a content analysis aimed at exploring extant policy at public doctoral-granting universities. Implications and recommendations for policy development based on the results of this policy review are provided.
Advising in Kinesiology: Challenges and Opportunities
Derek T. Smith, Tannah Broman, Marcus Rucker, Cecile Sende, and Sarah Banner
Effective academic advising in kinesiology is paramount to student success, contribution of the discipline to global health, and preparation of the workforce’s future leaders. Enrollment growth in kinesiology and its curricular breadth impose challenges that are unique from many other academic majors. The American Kinesiology Association convened a preworkshop titled “Advising in Kinesiology: Challenges and Opportunities” in January 2019 to begin dialogue related to advancing effective advising practices in kinesiology. Twenty-six attendees, all of whom were engaged in advising in different roles, participated in presentations and group discussions. This paper summarizes the preworkshop primary findings and offers some best-practice considerations. While it is clear that effective advising is positioned to advance the quality of kinesiology programs and our graduates, there is a dearth of supporting evidence, and addressing this through research is a needed priority.