One area of sports performance that I constantly find myself fascinated with is that of placebo effects, and its related cousin, expectancy. I find it really interesting that an inert substance can exert clear performance enhancing effects, as this has potentially huge implications for sporting performance.
Entries by Craig Pickering
Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. The amount of research in sports science has exploded, and for coaches in the trenches it can be hard to keep up on it all. That is one of the reasons we have put together the Sports Science Monthly, and we start off the July edition by looking at where coaches get their sports science information. After that we look into new research on small-sided games, re-examine training load monitoring, as well as looking into other topics.
When it comes to sprint training, two critical factors are the amount of force that can be developed and the speed at which a certain threshold of force can be reached. In training, focus often gravitates to the first point through methods like plyometrics and weight-based resistance training. While weight training, if adequately programmed, has the ability to increase strength, and hence the amount of force an athlete can produce, there is also the potential (although this is currently somewhat contentious) that these increases in strength come along with increases in muscle size, commonly termed muscle hypertrophy. Because additional muscle adds additional mass, the athlete is therefore heavier, which, in turn, may slow the athlete down. As such, resistance training for sprinters is often a balancing act between improving strength and force, whilst minimizing unnecessary muscle hypertrophy. As a general rule, we want to get stronger, not bigger.
Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. In the June Sports Science Monthly we start off by looking at new research on how parents can affect athlete development. We then give you the latest updates on how hormones change while recovering from exercise, mental health, collagen and tendon pain, functional movement screening, and more.
If you’re a big athletics fan, and you have a good memory of semi-obscure sprinters, you may well have seen me race a couple of times. In bigger races, such as those at the Diamond League and major Championships, the camera pans across the competitors as they are introduced. Whilst it is the fashion these days to appear relaxed and jovial, earlier on in my career—in the immediate post-Maurice Greene era—athletes tended to be a bit more serious during this pre-race segment. If you go back and watch races from that period, you will often see athletes talking to themselves, and this is a technique I liked to utilize pre-race.
Caffeine is a performance enhancing drug. If you’ve been following my articles over the last couple of years, you’ll no doubt be aware of that, because I write about it a lot. Athletes, of course, know that caffeine has the potential to enhance their performance, which is why many of them consume it prior to training and competition. Additionally, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) know that caffeine is a performance enhancing drug and are, rightly, concerned about the abuse of caffeine in sport.
Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. Recently the countermovement jump has morphed from a test of explosiveness into a more general test of the athlete’s physical state. In the May Sports Science Monthly we start off by looking at whether research backs this up. We then give you the latest updates on research about sleep, tapering, priming, transfer of training, and hamstring injuries.
Spotting the next major talent is big business in sports, particularly team sports, where youngsters are often scouted and signed to clubs at increasingly young ages. However, the effectiveness of these methods is generally considered to be very poor, with relatively few youngsters thought of as highly talented at a young age progressing through to play at a high level. How can it be that we invest so much into talent identification but have relatively little to show for it?
Over the last decade or so, there has been a Big Data revolution. This is true of our general lives; a good example is how Cambridge Analytica collected, both legally and potentially illegally, data of Facebook users for the targeting of campaign advertisements, but also within sport, where, in part thanks to the increase in technology, there is a vast amount of data available to sporting teams.
Yawn. Just reading that word will cause many of you to yawn. In fact, the more I mention the word “yawn”, the more likely you are to carry out a yawn. Are you yawning yet?