The 1996 U.S. Surgeon General's "Report on Physical Activity and Health" is a landmark document that emphasizes the important link between physical fitness and American health. In a 2011 research report, the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports sought to broaden the definition of physical fitness laid down in the Surgeon General's report, subcategorizing skill-related fitness as "those components of physical fitness that have a relationship with enhanced performance in sports and motor skills." The components of skill-related fitness include agility, balance, coordination, power, speed and reaction time.
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Agility, as defined by the President's Council, refers to the ability to change your entire body position in space rapidly with accuracy and speed. Sports coach Brian Mac offers a slightly different perspective, defining agility as the ability to perform a successive series of powerful explosive movements quickly in opposing directions. Agility is typically measured by performing a timed shuttle run. Sports teams use zigzag drills to enhance agility.
Balance is your ability to maintain equilibrium, or control your body's position in space. This component can further be broken down into static balance, which is maintaining equilibrium while not moving, and dynamic balance, which is maintaining control of the body while moving without succumbing to gravity or momentum. Balance is important in sports such as dance, gymnastics, ice hockey, figure skating and other sports requiring extreme control.
Coordination is a skill that recruits the senses such as sight and hearing in conjunction with body parts to perform tasks accurately and with efficiency of movement. Coach Brian Mac contends that coordination integrates the various skill-related components of fitness into accurate and effective movements. Juggling, hitting a baseball with a bat and dribbling a basketball are all coordination skills. Hand-eye coordination tests or foot-eye coordination tests are often used to assess coordination.
A combination of strength and speed, power is the ability to exert maximum force in a quick, explosive burst. According to Pacific Lutheran University, power is a function of the amount of work performed per unit of time. The shot put, a tennis serve, a sprint start, a basketball dunk, and a baseball pitch all exhibit power. The jump height test is one assessment used to test power.
Speed and Reaction Time
Speed is the ability to perform a movement in a short period of time. Reaction time is a subcomponent of speed and refers to the time it takes for the neuromuscular system to produce movement from stimulus to reaction. Moving your foot from the accelerator to the brake is an example of reaction time. Combined, speed and reaction time equate to total response time, which is the time it takes from stimulus to completion of a movement. Speed and reaction times are thought to be greatly influenced by genetics.