In sports coaching, there are ten key physical components of fitness that are important; one of these is stamina. We’ve all heard the term, but how many of us have stopped to think about what it is, or why it’s so important?
In elite sport, endurance is everything. It can be the difference between pushing yourself to cross the line to giving your body one last push to drop the ball into the back of the basketball net. Goal achieved.
Much like cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina in sport is something that can be improved over time with hard work and dedication.
What is stamina?
Stamina in sport is considered to be the ability to exercise for a prolonged period of time, giving it your ‘all’ throughout. In simple terms, it’s about your staying power. For instance, how far you can run before giving up, or how long you can sustain an exhausting exercise move.
It is a reflection of overall fitness, with athletes in high physical condition often having higher levels of stamina in sport. This is because their heart, lungs and overall muscles perform at a much higher level of efficiency. But note, it is not always related to physical strength or even endurance, it is more about physical perseverance.
Why is stamina important?
Stamina is vital to athletes, as it enables them to keep going over a period of time. In the context of competitions and performance, this is a significant element. Least of all, it means that they have the ability (and agility) to perform to a high standard, even when those around them are flagging. This can be a great competitive advantage to have.
We see it in every day sport from people pushing themselves down the gym to runners in the marathon.
It is also important on a physical level, since stamina based exercise can help to lower blood pressure and heart rates, as well as burn fat.
It can also improve mental wellbeing too. Research has found that people who are physically fit tend to find it easier to focus on general daily tasks.
Testing stamina levels
The best way to test stamina in sport is through a professional training clinic. If you have a sports coach, they are best placed to facilitate this, and may have personal recommendations of their own.
You will be asked to perform aerobic exercises, where your body performance is monitored and measured. This is usually through a VO2 test – this is the optimum point where you are using as much oxygen available and is typically higher in professional sports people.
How to build stamina in sport?
Stamina is one of the components of fitness that can be improved through training consistently over time.
Increasing stamina will help your muscles work more efficiently. This is best seen in endurance training to increase lung capacity which in turn allows you to take in more oxygen, which your heart then pumps and delivers to muscles around the body.
Aerobic exercise is the best way to improve your stamina levels. Additionally, alternating exercises and impact (also known as high intensity training) while you’re at maximum capacity may help.
Some exercises that can help improve levels of stamina include:
- Cycling – a great way to push your body. This will increase the way your body supplies oxygen to its muscle, slowly working to increase your stamina levels.
- Running – one of the best ways of giving your entire body a workout. However, alternate between running and jogging to mix it up, changing the tempo as you go along. You may also want to integrate skipping or jumping into your routine too.
- Weight lifting – building strength can really help improve stamina over time.Additionally, it will help to improve your muscle strength and definition, which contribute to your overall agility levels.
Consistency here is key, since moderate-intensity over a prolonged period of time will help to increase your endurance in a certain sport.
Overall though, the important factor is to train for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week to build stamina.
Training for improvement
The best way to increase your stamina level is to work with your sports coach. Develop a plan to build your endurance and capability over time. This may involve using different techniques or sports to keep you interested and engaged.
Try to find physical activities that you enjoy too – it will be easier to push yourself if you are having fun along the way.
Although it can be improved over time, a gradual approach is the best to take. Work with your sports coach to increase time and intensity over a period of time, this is usually ramped up by 10 per cent week on week.
On the psychological side of stamina in sport, your coach may also suggest some ways to help mentally prepare too. This could involve mental imagery – the process whereby you mentally focus on goals, blocking out external distractions. It also involves rehearsing the steps involved for success.
In sport, as in life, staying power or perseverance is important for success. In sport, we know this as stamina.
One of the key physical components of fitness, stamina plays a vital role in sports professionals. It gives them the extra impetus they need to carry on, even when they have been performing at peak levels for some time. But more importantly, it also means that they continue to perform to a high level.
After 90 intense minutes of running around a football pitch, or a marathon 26-mile run, stamina is the gift that will keep you going and outperform your competitors. And for that reason alone, stamina in sport deserves to be given great consideration.