Strength coursework

The common definition of strength is the ability to exert force against a resistance. In most team sports the resistance you are working against is your own body weight, and although you are not using your maximum strength, you do need to keep working for long periods of time. In other activities, such as weightlifting you are applying more force and working to maximum. This type of strength is different to the strength needed for a sprinter to explode from the blocks. This implies that there are different types of strength and these different classifications of strength are specific for different activities.

The classifications of strength are:

  • Maximum strength – This is the greatest force the neuromuscular system is capable of exerting in a single maximum voluntary contraction. Men tend to be able to exert a greater maximum strength than women because they have a larger muscle mass – the greater the cross-sectional area of the muscle, the greater the force that can be generated. Fibre type also affects strength. For example, fast glycolytic fibres are able to produce more force than slow oxidative fibres. Some muscle groups are stronger than others, not only because of their size, but also because of the shape of the muscle. The fusiform muscle shape, for example the biceps allows most movement, the multipennate shape such as the deltoid provides more strength but less movement.

   Maximum strength: “the greatest force possible in a single                                                                            

      maximum contraction.”

  • Elastic strength – This is the ability of the neuromuscular system to overcome resistance with a high speed of contraction. Elastic or explosive strength is essential for any activities involving sprinting, throwing, jumping or hitting and an athlete needs a high percentage of fast glycolytic muscle fibres to perform well. The motor neurones that stimulate fast-twitch muscle fibres have a thicker myelin sheath than those stimulating the slow oxidative fibres, which speeds up the rate of conduction of the stimulus and therefore the speed of contraction.

Elastic Strength: “the ability to overcome a resistance with a fast



  • Strength endurance – This is the ability of the muscle to withstand fatigue. This is the type strength most appropriate to health-related fitness. For example, this type of strength is used when digging the garden, carrying the shopping etc. It is also essential to the sports performer, for example towards the end of the game or when a game goes into extra time, the team whose players have better muscular endurance will be in the more favourable position.

Strength endurance: “The ability to express force many times over.”

There are three other types of strength:-

  • Dynamic strength – the repetitive application of force, i.e. muscular contractions
  • Static strength – maximum force versus an immovable object
  • Explosive strength – maximum force in one movement

Fibre types also affect strength – fast glycolytic fibres are able to produce more force than slow oxidative fibres. Although, slow twitch fibres are particularly adapted to low intensity aerobic endurance work, they are always recruited at the start of exercise. Similarly, although the fast twitch fibres are adapted to high intensity anaerobic activities involving all out rapid powerful movements, they are also progressively recruited during low intensity endurance work as fatigue increases.


In the game of netball these different types of strength are used in different aspects of the game. For example:

Netball is very much a passing game. This emphasis on passing is one of the factors that distinguishes netball from its origin; basketball, so it is not surprising that throwing skills have become highly specialised. Leg and arm strength is required when throwing, jumping and running. Also good abdominal strength is needed to maintain a good posture which aids the prevention of lower back pains. Adequate abdominal strength is also required to maintain correct torso alignment during skills such as shooting and landing from a jump. Netballers need to have enough elastic strength to pass the ball powerfully and accurately which will minimise the chances of the opposition gaining possession. Strength endurance is needed to be able to exert the ball many times over and so our muscles withstand fatigue. When receiving the ball we need strength to be able to maintain our balance and hold our particular body position and to resist the force of the on coming ball. Endurance strength is needed so that we are able to keep up with our opponents as our muscles may have to work for prolong periods of time. Defenders when marking their opponent by reaching out to mark the ball need static strength. When marking in this way, your muscles contact isometrically, as no movement occurs.

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The development of upper body strength is required to enhance ball handling and goal shooting skills. A well-balanced strengthening program of all muscles, particulary muscles about the knee and ankle joints is recommended for netball players to reduce injury potential by maintaining integrity of the musculoskeletal system. Improvements in the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus muscular strength is also recommended as the hamstring muscles play a key role in maintaining knee joint stability.

Muscular strength is important to netball players as it is related to other fitness components, such as muscular power and endurance. The development of muscular power ...

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