Wednesday, December 4, 2013

SEA Games Myanmar 2013: Team ISN – Team behind Team.

The athletes and their coaches aren’t the only members of the National Contingent who will be in Myanmar for the 27th SEA Games. It also includes medical officers, doctors, sports psychologists and other scientists.

The creation of a high performance system to support athletes has transformed the fortunes of Malaysian athletes in recent years.

The impact of the system can be seen in Malaysian athlete’s medal success, which has risen from year to year.

Central to this transformation has been an increase in the volume and sophistication of the sport science and sport medicine support provided to national athletes.

The process of building elite athletes begins when an athlete is identified as a candidate by their sport's national governing body (NSA’s) and National Sports Council (NSC) for a world-class performance programme.

The first role of sport science is to help the coaches to build an athlete who is physically robust enough to withstand the rigours of top level training and competition. 

We do this by putting together a team including a doctor, physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coach to assess the athlete over a period of time and determine whether their body is durable enough to cope with the intensity of training. 

Where any potential weaknesses emerge in the screening process, our practitioners develop a programme of activity that focuses on these areas and aims to ensure they do not inhibit the ongoing development of the athlete. 

Delivering peak performance 

Our practitioners put together an individual programme to optimise athletes' training and bring them to peak fitness for major competitions. 

The programme strengthens parts of the body that are critical to improved performance and includes ongoing testing to measure the impact of the training. At the same time, our physiotherapists complement this with preventative work that aims to reduce the prevalence of injuries. 

Sadly, injuries are part of top-level sport and when they occur our practitioners put the athletes back together with expert medical care and intensive, multi-disciplinary rehabilitation programmes. 

Underpinning these programmes are nutritionists who work with the athletes to develop individualised refuelling strategies that enable athletes to optimise their performance in training and competition. 


Athletes training at such a high volume and intensity need physiological monitoring. 

A sports physiologist examines the acute responses and chronic adaptations to athletic performance in a variety of environments. The physiologist possesses a wide-ranging understanding of the body, enabling them to advise athletes and coaches of how training and preparation influence competition performance.

Testing can take place in the lab, which ensures a controlled environment to compare exercise test results. However, it is not always possible to simulate sporting activity in a lab and with advances in technology physiologists use field-based testing as much as possible. This work is vital as it can evaluate training as it happens, allowing the athlete and coach to objectively monitor what impact a particular session has had on the body.

Physiology can improve an athlete’s performance by giving important objective information which can help coaches to adapt training programmes to maximise their desired outcome. 

Our Physiologists also run sessions in the altitude chamber to assess how athletes respond to different environmental conditions. 

Evidence that they can perform in a variety of different climatic conditions can significantly improve self-belief in those athletes due to compete at international events. 

Mental preparation 

Psychologists play a pivotal role in helping coaches to mentally prepare athletes through character assessments, pressure training and one-to-one work. 

Sport psychology is a positive psychology focussing on enhancing sport performance by helping athletes and coaches develop mental skills to become better at what they are already very good at.

A positive mindset during training keeps you focused on making the small improvements to make you better.  A positive mindset during competition may make that 1% difference between achieving your goals.  Sport psychologists help individuals and teams identify that winning mindset to develop, enhance and maintain optimal performance.

The programme includes a range of resources to help athletes manage the intense pressures of competing at home and also at international level.

One per cent gains

Our biomechanists use super slow motion cameras to help athletes identify the most efficient movements or identify faults that may have crept into their action. 

This can help diagnose any problems which might be limiting sporting potential and with close consultation with the athletes coach, training patterns may be altered to rectify the problem. The impact this can have on an athletes' performance is significant.

Likewise, our performance analysts have thousands of hours of film of their opponents to aid the development of strategies and game plans.

In a competitive environment, the performer would look at the profile and stats of their opponent for the next day; they would then discuss the data and that would contribute, along with past experiences, to a game plan.

A glance at the medal tables from this SEA Games backs this up and gives us every reason to be confident that the National athletes we have helped to build over the last few years will deliver yet more success come in next Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Olympics.

#TeamISN @ SEA Games Myanmar2013

Goh Kok Wei – Nutritionist (Nay Pyi Taw)
Ng Hui Hwa – Exercise Physiologist (Nay Pyi Taw)
Norshuhaida – Psychologist (Nay Pyi Taw)
Nurzubillah Azis – Performance Analyst (Nay Pyi Taw)
Siti Soraya – Nutritionist (Hockey)
Selvamuthu – Conditioning (Sailing)
Dr. Jolly – Psychologist (Football)
Arif Aziz – Performance Analyst (Hockey)

Follow #TeamISN @ Myanmar2013 on Twitter (@isnmas), Facebook ( Institut Sukan Negara Malaysia) and Instagram (isnmas) with our official hash tag :  #TeamISN #TeamBehindTeam #TeamMalaysia

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