Sprint or Endurance?

'Comparing the Physical Attributes of Endurance Runners and Sprinters using a Stem and Leaf diagram. Which are you?'

At the “South Australian Institute of Sport” they don’t believe in leaving much up to chance! From analysing physiognomy (body stats: height, weight, armspan etc.) data on past high performance and international level athletes they can draw up a rough guildeline for the necessary body mechanics required to be a world champion. Enter your own sport test results on their  facebook page to see if you make it onto their talent spotting programme or take a look at their selection and identification procedures for talent spotting.

An introduction to the modern methods for collecting and using statistics to help select the  sports champions of tomorrow (from the German news group, Deutschewelle):


Discussion Points and Evidence?

Do you think you are more of a sprinter or an endurance runner. Why do you think this? Do you have evidence that suggests you're more one than the other? What is this evidence?

What about if you tried to compete at a regional, state, county, national etc. level, which one do you think you'd have the best chance of success in?

Do different sports require different body types? Can you give an example of two different sports that require two very different body types? Look these sports up on youtube, do the videos of the players suggest your hypothesis is correct?



These worksheets (print out for handwritten responses, or use this digital version to fill in on your computer)  contain two sets of data: one for Sprint athletes (400m or less) and one for endurance runners (3000m or more) from the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Example of a stem and leaf diagram and how to draw them (see video below for a step by step guide using Excel).

International Association of Athletics Federations statistics website - essential for keeping up to date with current atheletes statistics (www.iaaf.org)

 Sprinter or Endurance Runner? - TN

How to draw a stem and leaf diagram - using Excel

There is no sound on this video which uses statistics freely available from www.playerhistory.com:


  • Stem and leaf diagrams are very effective diagrams for comparing and analysing similarities and differences between data sets.
  • Use the data on sprinters and endurance runners who participated in the 2008 olympics (where Usain Bolt set a new world record for the 100m) to produce two stem and leaf diagrams.
  • Stem and leaf diagrams look like bar charts, by looking at the "back-to-back" diagrams we should get an initial idea of any differences in the heights and weights of the two types of runner.
  • Stem and leaf diagrams allow us to quickly find the median and quartiles of a set of data. Using these we can compare the average and consistency, or variability, (spread) of sprinters and endurance runners heights and weights. Summarise this information in a table.
  • By comparing our height and weight with that of sprinters and endurance runners in our table of results, we can work out which event best suits our physical attributes. 

At school level you may find the best sprinters are also the best long distance runners, but as the competition increases, to county and regional level, athletes need to concentrate their efforts on those sports that best suit their natural physique.

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