Entries by Craig Pickering

Sports Science Monthly – October 2017

Welcome to another issue of Sports Science Monthly. This month, we start with an article looking at a hot topic: mindfulness training. Mindfulness has been a buzzword in daily life, from bio-hacking gurus, and in the realm of sports performance. We’ll take a look to see if the science backs up the claims.

Finding the right caffeine intake for performance

One thing that fascinates me about humans is that we’re all different. We see this all the time in training; why do some people improve, but others don’t? Why does one athlete respond really well to a type of training, but another doesn’t? The same is true with caffeine: why does caffein affect some athletes differently than others? And what should we consider when adopting a adopt a strategy to get the most out of it?

Sports Science Monthly – September 2017

Welcome back to another edition of Sports Science Monthly. This month we take a look at the practical use of sports science in coaching, and issues that arise in that relationship; the effect of body mass on ice baths; the impact of genetic variation on concussion risk; recovery for team sports; placebo effect; and individualized training based on HRV.

Genetics, recovery, and individualization

When we exercise, a large range of different processes occur within our body. At the muscular level, we cause trauma to the muscle fibres. Within our cells, we cause oxidative stress, producing free radicals that damage cellular structures. We initiate an inflammatory response, stimulated by the release of cytokines such as interleukin-6 and tumour necrosis factor. All of these sound bad, but the context is important. Too much – either in terms of frequency, intensity, or duration – of these processes is damaging to athletes; it’s known as fatigue. The flip side of this is that these processes, and many others that occur as a result of exercise, allow us to adapt to exercise. This means that exercise adaptation is a constant balancing act between stress, which acts as a stimulus for adaptation, and recovery from this stress, which is where adaptation itself occurs.

Sports Science Monthly – August 2017

Welcome to this month’s edition of Sports Science Monthly, where we take a look at recent research in the realm of sports science. In this edition, we take a look at running coordination, the nature vs nurture debate, causes of illnesses and injuries, vitamin D supplementation, caffeine, and test familiarization.

Why Did Usain Bolt Lose?

Athletics fans love statistics, and I’m no different, which is why it was so exciting to hear that the IAAF and Leeds Becket University were to collaborate on a biomechanics project at the recent World Championships, giving us some insight into what makes up a world class performance in athletics. As the Championships finished last weekend, the first initial reports were released for the men’s 100m and 10,000m, men’s discus final, and women’s pole vault final, which you can find here. The extended analysis will come in time, but the initial analysis does contain plenty of interesting bits of information. As my athletics knowledge is primarily limited to the sprints, that is where I’ll focus. The initial report itself does a great job of presenting the pertinent points, but I hope to add a little extra context where possible.

Can You Repeat That Please?

You might not know it, but scientific research is facing a crisis. Swathes of previously accepted research findings are being called into question, as subsequent experiments have failed to reproduce the same findings as the original papers. This replications crisis is strongest in psychology, especially social psychology, but has roots in, and implications for, all branches of science. And as more coaches are looking for an edge in the latest scientific research and social pyschology findings, this has a large impact on coaching too.

The Biology of Our Behaviors

In sport, we’re defined as much by our failures as we are our successes. In my athletics career, I won a World Championships medal, a European Indoor Silver medal, a European under-23 Silver Medal, a European Junior 100m Gold medal, and numerous national senior and age group medals. I was selected for two Olympic Games and five World Championships across two different sports, and yet I’m still perhaps best known for being responsible for being responsible for the disqualification of Great Britain’s 4x100m relay team at the 2008 Olympics, in the event in which we were reigning Gold medalists.

Sports Science Monthly – July 2017

Welcome back to another monthly installment of our sports science round up. This month, we look at low carbohydrate, high fat diets; usually this is the context of endurance performance, but this time we look at it from the perspective of power performance. We also have an interesting case study of unexplained underperformance syndrome, commonly referred to as overtraining, and papers examining mechanisms underpinning muscle hypertrophy, stretching, chronotype, and the genetics of injury. As always, we finish with a quick fire round-up of other interesting papers that have caught my eye this month.