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Performance Factors:

The Importance of Performance Factors in Sports

When a person thinks of playing a sport it is useful to understand what the activity demands from the individual. Operationally, we define the considerations implicit in sports participation as "performance factors".

These concepts are adapted from the writings of Cureton (1956), Grueninger (1969) and Hunsicker (1974). We feel that a system of ranking sports according to the importance of the individual performance factors is useful for parents, coaches, participants and medical personnel.


Performance Factors Charts

NISMAT has developed charts showing the performance demands of various sports. When viewing these charts it is useful to remember the following:

1. Many of the factors which are listed cannot be properly (i.e., validly and reliably)

    measured. Indeed, their measurement represents a continued challenge to sports

    medicine scientists.

2. Disability in one area does not necessarily preclude one from performing in a given

    sport. Increasing reliance on other performance factors often can compensate for


3. Sports can be played at a number of intensity levels with varying proficiency. These

    ratings are our perceptions of the requirements to perform well.

4. We consider athletics and sports to include activities which participants choose for their

    leisure time. Our broad definition of sports makes virtually everyone an athlete of

    some form.

• Browse charts of performance demands of specific sports.

• Post your performance factors demands for a sport.


Neuromuscular and Physical

Click the descriptors to view the performance factor criteria


Ability of muscles to move against resistance or to prevent the movement of the body against resistance


The ability to maintain repetitious movement of skeletal muscle

Body Type

The combination of height, weight, and body dimensions including fat distribution and amount


The ability of muscles and tendons to lengthen without damage


The ability to maintain the body in a defined position over changing centers of balance


The ability to quickly change direction in response to outside stimuli


The ability to rapidly contract muscles in a sequenced manner to propel the body


The ability to move the body in ways that requires complex inputs and carefully graded muscle contractions


Initiation of movement or changing the speed of movement in response to external stimuli

Reaction Time

A component of timing, the ability to initiate movement and respond to a stimulus


Synchronized movements associated with thought in repetitive movements


Ability to maintain frim control over body movements


Precise location of propelled objects


Mental and Psychometric Factors


Ability to interrelate perception of the environment into mental constructs, based on past experienceand education


Ability to establish new ways of doing things which are unexpected


Mental preparedness to adjust rapidly to changing situations


The ability to push the body towards a goal


Concentration to the exclusion of external and internal stimuli


Environmental Factors


The influence of the playing field and environmental factors that may determine outcomes


The roll of implements used in sport in determining sport outcomes


The importance of repeating patterned movements to assure perfect execution during the game