Engineering has been hand in hand with sports, however, this relationship has been overlooked by many individuals including the engineers as well as athletes themselves, however; the last two decades have shown that people are beginning to recognize the critical role played by engineering in the enhancement of the performance of sportsmen and women (Czyzewski, 2011). Athletic possess a very technical side which has a strong relationship with engineering that is analyzed can reveal a lot of aspects that can be enhanced through engineering. Engineering has made it possible to analyze athletes using computers in order to determine their skills and athleticism using impact sensors, computers, and motion detectors. The discovery of the technical side of sports has led to an increased demand for individuals with technical knowledge to analyze sports with the aim of improving the performance of athletes through the improvement of their equipments. This has led to the emergence of an engineering field referred to as Sports Engineering. This field is very important because of the key role it plays in the athletics industry, for example, the engineers involved in it actively engage in the development of sports facilities through enhanced designing of sports equipment and other technological tools used in sports. Among the branches of engineering that play a key role in the development of sports and athletics are, mechanical engineers who are concerned with the development of equipment that provide solutions to problems facing athletes, biomedical engineers and biophysicists who are also using scientific innovations to facilitate good performance in sports. Engineers in sports is broadly categorized into two, namely; the enabling technology which is concerned with the equipments that athletes use during their competitions, and the embedded technology which is concerned with activities that take place behind the scenes, for example, systems and equipments that are used by coaches during training sessions and in the analysis of the athletes potential. There is strong relationship between engineering and athletics (sports), therefore, this paper is going to discuss the key role that engineering has played in the enhancing the performance of athletes through the development of appropriate equipment and the role of engineering in the development of skills of handball.
Since the invention of a discus used for short-putt from a stone, engineers have always engaged in finding methods to enhance the performance of athletes in every field of sports. This has seen technological invention of new equipment becoming a major part of sports across the globe (Harris 2012). With regards, almost all athletes who are competing at a professional level have their own custom made kits, which are specially designed for them after a in depth analysis and scan on their bodies thanks to the science and technology and the innovations in the field of engineering. Therefore, technology has formed major parts of nutrition, coaching, and the training of all athletes.
Athletics as a sport possess a very technical side which has a strong relationship with engineering that is analyzed can reveal a lot of aspects that can be enhanced through engineering. Engineering has been hand in hand with sports, however, this relationship has been overlooked by many individuals including the engineers as well as athletes themselves, however; the last two decades have shown that people are beginning to recognize the critical role played by engineering in the enhancement of the performance of sportsmen and women (Thompson, 2012). Despite of the critical role that has been played by engineering in the sector of athletics, there is not a single degree course that is solely suited to be the sole designer of sporting equipment because for a successful sporting event, from its planning, organization, and completion involves a lot of activities and equipments that are prepared by different categories of engineers.
Engineering and the development of Athletics equipment
Major engineering industries involved in the production of athletics equipments include; industrial engineers, computer and electrical engineers, mechanical engineers who are concerned with the development of equipment that provide solutions to problems facing athletes, biomedical engineers and biophysicists who are also using scientific innovations to facilitate good performance in sports (Harris, 2012). Therefore, the major it is the duty of the engineer to; work very hard behind the scenes in every sporting event in order to ensure that the event is a success. It is also the engineers who help athletes to break World record by inventing better new and more advanced equipment, and coming up with better ways of measuring the performance of the athletes and also finding better ways to enhance their performances. It is also the engineers who design the systems of timing used to time racers in competitions, and in addition, it is the task of broadcast engineers to ensure a live coverage and broadcasting of athletics event to entertain viewers.
How Engineering develops and prepares the tactics of Athletes
- Genetic Engineering in Sports
Genetic engineering is a field of engineering that deal with the manipulation of the genes composition of an organism, whereby, the engineers engage in adding of new DNA to an organism (Vennables, 2014). It entails the addition of one or more new traits into the organism in order to improve the abilities of the new organism. The current technological advancement has made it possible and easier to genetically modify an organism, and this has been applied in many fields. As a result, many athletes have turned to this technology to maximize their performance in order to gain a competitive advantage during international competitions. There are even cases where some athletes go to the extent of using illegal drugs, popularly known as doping in order to maximize their performance in competitions that they participate in and also to recover quickly from fatigue and injuries they suffer in games or during training sessions (Thompson, 2012). One of the most commonly used doping drugs is the anabolic steroid tetrahydrogestrinone
Through genetical engineering, engineers can been able to manipulate the DNA of athletes to modify their traits in a manner that can enhance the mass of their muscles to be bigger than usual, the modification has also increased the strength of their muscle so that they are adapted and more enduring to long distance running. Therefore, the modification of genes of athletes has the ability to contribute towards the enhancement of the performance of athletes during competitions. Despite the positive advantages associated with gene modification of athletes, it is a huge health hazard to human beings, and hence any athlete has never used it. This leaves them with the option of doping using energy enhancing drugs other than gene modification.
- Biomedical Engineering and Sports
In professional sporting activities, there are a lot of innovations that are aimed to improve the performance as well as the safety of athletes, and therefore, medical technology and biomedical engineering have brought about major innovations that are able to push even further, the performance of athletes. This field is concerned with the development of medical substances that if used by athletes, can contribute positively towards their performance, thereby giving them a competitive advantage during competitions; on the other hand, some of them have negative consequences on the health of their long-term users. Therefore, the consumption of these enhancers among professional athletes have been discouraged because they encourage unfair competition due to the reasons discussed below.
Performance enhancement: Superhuman athletes
Biomedical engineering is also another branch of engineering that has helped athletes with the production of power pills that are able to enhance the performance of the body of sportsmen and women (Wells, 2008). The popular types of power pills are in the large family of anabolic steroids that have the ability to make people strong and big, therefore majority of athletes, particularly those involved in bodybuilding, boxing and wrestling are known to use these power pill in order to build their muscles and enhance their strength. They are made up of compounds that are able to imitate the manner in which testosterone in human works in the bodies of their users, and as a result, they initiate the process of synthesis of proteins in the muscles of athletes and it leads to an increased building of muscle tissues, thus, the exponential growth in their users. Research from engineers involved in that field have revealed that the use of these power pill among athletes leads to up to 40% increase in the energy and strength of the user if a lot of exercise is done in the course of taking the pills.
Engineering has also impacted the development of athletes by making possible consumption of human growth hormone, which are popularly used in the process of increasing the amount of the insulin-like protein growth factor one, and thereby initiating the growth of muscles of athletes (Wells, 2008). This has contributed positively towards the growth in body size as well as an increase in the strength of athletes who consume human growth hormones. Athletes, particularly those who participate in short races, for example, 100 meters, are the common users of this strength enhancer because it increases their ability to sprint by up to 5%, therefore, the growth hormone is used by athletes to develop and improve their sprinting ability.
Genetic engineers have enabled athletes to enhance the strength and endurance by introducing a gene doping which enhance the performance of the user by modifying the genes (). With regards to this, athletes are able to implement gene doping and undergo mutation that increases the efficiency EPO receptors in their bodies, for example, Mantyranta Eero, the great athlete of the 1960 had mutation that enhanced his body’s EPO receptors, and which eventually helped him to win three gold medals. Blood doping, therefore, id one of the major ways through engineers are able to enhance the development of the bodies of athletes to increase their performance during competitions because in the event of blood doping, the athlete develops more endurance because of the increased oxygen supply in their bodies due to an increased growth of red blood cells, thus, increased body growth and strength.
Scientific knowledge and innovation in the field of engineering has also enabled the development athletes through surgical enhancement or what is known as human 2.0, whereby, a man undergoes series of surgery and technological augmentation that is able to enhance the performance of the body (Wells, 2008). This technological innovation has proved very useful among athletes who have experienced injuries such as broken tissues and ligaments, whereby, this technology has enabled the replacement of the injured tissues. In the event of these injuries, athletes are taken through surgeries n order to replace the tissues, and then they are subjected to rehabilitation for a given period of time to allow for their full recovery. There are a number of athletes who have undergone this procedure and claim that they are able to perform even better than they used to do before their injuries.
The role of engineering in Handball
The world of athletics has become very competitive across the globe over the past few decades, and this has called for the need to develop and improve the performance of participants in sporting activities, for example, the need for coaching and education athletes through advanced training and skills of coaching (Lopes et al. 2014). This requires advanced resources, for example, video games that are able to demonstrate the required skills and techniques needed by coaches to train their athletes. The technological advancements over the past decades in the field of engineering have made it possible the production of these video games for training purposes, particularly in the game of handball. This is possible through 3-D multi-user virtual worlds that allows for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, enables improvement and the humanization of access as well as the transmission of knowledge through video games, thereby helping athletes to learn a lot of skills and techniques of various games.
Handball is one of the main athletic sporting events that have been enhanced scientific innovations in the industry of engineering, both in terms of enhancement to improve the performance of the athletes themselves, as well as the improvement of the training and coaching of the game itself (Lopes et al. 2014). The training and coaching of handball has been made available to coaches in form of 3-D virtual video games, which enables the coaches or trainers of handball to interact with the elements of the game to sharpen their skills, thanks to computer engineering scientist who are able to develop these virtual realities for use among learners. In this section, the paper is going to present a discussion on the use of Second Life Virtual World computer game in the training and coaching of handball athletes in the effort towards improving their skills and techniques during actual competitions.
The use of Second Life Virtual World in coaching of handball
The Second Life Virtual World provides a very incredible learning environment for handball coaches whereby the software application enables the coach involved to develop both defensive and offensive movements of playing handball (Lopes et al. 2014). In this software application, the skills, movements and techniques useful in playing handball are defined in a manner that the coaches can retrieve them on request for the purpose of training athletes, whereby the trainees are able to see and analyze them. The Second Life Virtual World is very effective in the training of handball players because it makes simple a number of logistics that apply in the training and education of handball, for example, one is able to find professionals in computer to offer him support in case help is needed.
Despite the fact that this software has its own limitations, it has a god number of feature which enables the training and coaching of various sports, for example, football, volleyball and handball, through sharing of information and interactions with the elements available in this application software (Lopes et al. 2014). This application is mainly for handball coaches and it enables trainers to define and visualize movements that are in 3-D, therefore, users are able to analyze the tactics and movements used in various situations in the game as well as the gestures applied during the game.
Through the use of the desktop application, the coach of a handball team is able to formulate and edit movements and tactics used in handball. The coach is able to define the positioning, movement, tactics, and skills of every player, after which he has the option of saving them in data files and reproduce them later in Second Life Virtual Environment. The coach is able to create movements, which is a combination of instructions that direct players on their actions in the field, for example, on how they should change their positions, throw the ball in the pitch and how they should rotate and shoot the ball into the goal (Lopes et al. 2014). This is possible in second life because the animations used in by the coach to effect these actions are already stored in Second Life Virtual World. The coach is, able to define and set his own movements, tactics, and actions that he aims to teach his players, after which he will log into this application during training and pass these techniques to his players. The interact with external control devices of the second life virtual world to give instructions t the animations (avatars) to reproduce the actual movements that are pre-defined, thereby enabling the avatars to perform these movements as a demonstration to the handball players. This technology makes training of handball much easier and enjoyable.
Second Life Virtual World is a major improvement on the current 2-D format of software used in the training of defensive and offensive skills of handball, because the current software has only one angle of view and does not have proper interactivity (Lopes et al. 2014). The Second Life Virtual World enables coaches and trainers to define the sequence of movements in the game of handball which he can in turn present to the athletes through several-users virtual environment, and in a manner that allows athletes to participate by making contribution in the process of analyzing the sequence of skills, movements and techniques of handball as presented in the Second Life Virtual World.
The Future of Sports Engineering
Engineers will continue to intervene in the sports industry and create more opportunities for athletes by designing sporting equipments that are used in training and actual sporting events. These enhancements include the development of better stadiums, better gym equipments aimed at making training and exercise sessions more suitable for athletes in order to ensure their effectiveness in sports(James, 2014). There have emerged special disciplines that are aimed at enhancing of sports and athletics, for example, mechanical engineers who are concerned with the development of equipment that provide solutions to problems facing athletes, biomedical engineers and biophysicists who are also using scientific innovations to facilitate good performance in sports. By looking at the current rate at which technological developments are taking place, the forthcoming decades will witness a revolution in the technology, an event which will seen engineering practitioners engage in the development of other fields such as nanotechnology (James, 2014).
Another trending factor in the sport engineering industry is the employment of engineers who are talented in various fields of sporting such as rugby, football and swimming, whereby, most companies are focusing on hiring individuals who have sporting history during their days in school. This is because an engineer with sporting experience is able to understand perfectly well the needs of athletes with regards to the equipments he or she is developing in the effort towards enhancing the performance of the athletes targeted by the equipment being developed. This is possible because through this, the engineer is able to understand the state of mentality of both the athlete and the fans, therefore, the engineer is able to design an in equipment in a manner that is able to keep the athlete safe while at the same time enhancing the performance of the athlete who will use the equipment (James, 2014). However, as an engineer involved in the designing and manufacturing process, all the equipments should undergo testing and evaluation.
In conclusion, athletic possess a very technical side which has a strong relationship with engineering, that is analyzed can reveal a lot aspects that can be enhanced through engineering, therefore, engineering has been hand in hand with sports, however, this relationship has been overlooked by many individuals including the engineers as well as athletes themselves. The last two decades have shown that people are beginning to recognize the critical role played by engineering in the enhancement of the performance of athletes due to the use of scientific innovations to facilitate good performance in sports. There are a lot of innovations that are aimed to improve the performance as well as the safety of athletes, and therefore, medical technology and biomedical engineering have brought about major innovations that are able to push even further, the performance of athletes. Through genetical engineering, engineers can been able to manipulate the DNA of athletes to modify their traits in a manner that can enhance the mass of their muscles to be bigger than usual, the modification has also increased the strength of their muscle so that they are adapted and more enduring to long distance running. Handball is one of the main athletic sporting events that have been enhanced scientific innovations in the industry of engineering, both in terms of enhancement to improve the performance of the athletes themselves, as well as the improvement of the training and coaching of the game itself. Engineers will continue to intervene in the sports industry and create more opportunities for athletes by designing sporting equipments that are used in training and actual sporting events. These enhancements include the development of better stadiums, better gym equipments aimed at making training and exercise sessions more suitable for athletes in order to ensure their effectiveness in sports.
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