When it comes to body image, USD athletic coaches focus on strengths and skills.
Instead of focusing on what the “ideal body” looks like in each sport, coaches explained what the ideal strengths are for student-athletes. This is the third part of the three-part series on body image; previous stories covered body image in women and men.
Lucky Huber, director of track & field, said the sport’s many different body types make it unique.
“If you look at the stereotypical distance runner, they aren’t necessarily as power-based, but a little bit more for running endurance,” he said. “And then the track kids are kind of in the middle of that, with your throwers usually being a little more explosive and built for power.”
Everybody in athletics has their strengths and differences. For coaches, it’s a matter developing them depending on their needs, Huber said.
“Part of it is, for an endurance athlete, they spend a lot more time developing other strengths,” he said. “That ability to be able to run a 10-mile run, which is a different kind of strength than a person who can lift 600 pounds in the weight room, but can’t run more than a mile without getting fatigued. I think that’s how people end up in certain events, because they probably all started track at some point with everybody doing everything, and then at some point everyone gets spread out to where their body type fits into where they can be successful.”
Craig Smith, head men’s basketball coach, said successful athletes come in all shapes and sizes, but are often labeled because of how they look.
“I think a lot of coaches do kind of peg people saying, ‘I bet that’s a football player’ or, ‘I bet that’s a basketball player,’ and people in their mind sort of have a pre-determined label, but part of that is because you see it all as a coach,” he said. “But in basketball, especially at the Division-I level, we don’t always realize how big our guys are. That is both big as in tall, and big as in wide, but they catch you off guard at first because they’re so big in the general public that they just stand out before you even realize it’s a player.”
Both physical and mental strengths play big roles in what he looks for in a player, Smith said.
“One thing we try to emphasize here is trying to get the best measurement you can of their heart, along with their work ethic and how they are as a teammate,” he said. “But at the same time we look at skill level because you’re playing five guys at a time, so a high skill level can always compensate in many ways for lacking in some things athletically.”
Smith said mental toughness and confidence are key for student-athletes to maintain a healthy body image and perform at the highest level in their sport.
“If you have confidence in yourself and you believe in yourself and you have a work ethic, toughness and heart, you can be successful,” he said. “Whether it’s athletics or whatever walk of life or endeavor you’re pursuing, if you have those attributes, you have a chance to be successful in everything you do.”