Entries by Craig Pickering

Searching for smoothness

On a recent trip back to the UK, I got to watch my one-year-old niece play with Luis, my sister’s dog. My niece was fascinated by Luis, and wanted nothing more than to play with him, as well as give him a healthy dose of stroking. Watching her trying to do this was interesting; whilst she had the motivation to do so, she lacked the ability to do it well. Luis is a hyperactive dog (my sister prefers the phrase “energetic”), and is forever bounding around; as such, whenever my niece would go to stroke him, she would invariably miss him. Even when Luis was still, my niece struggled to stroke him in what I would call a “normal” fashion; instead of a long, smooth stroke along his coat, she would instead “pat” him, in a somewhat uncoordinated manner.

Consistency versus excellence

During my athletics career, I trained with two truly world-class athletes: one a gold medalist and the other a world champion. What struck me at the time was how normal they were; they turned up to training, trained fairly well, and then came back the next day to repeat the process. There were no superhuman sessions—although there were occasional exceptional performances—but just consistently decent sessions, strung together over an extended period of time.

Implementing augmented reality into training

Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are starting to transform gaming and is also making headway into medicine and other fields. You might think the sporting world is the next stop, but the technology has already arrived and more and more research is coming in to look at potential applications.

Sports Science Monthly – January 2020

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. This month we start off by what exactly mental toughness is. We also summarize topics like the limited science of elite sprinting, connecting sprint speed to endurance performance, the load of warming up, periodizing skill acquisition, and more.

The future of genetic testing and talent identification

When we look at the future of sport, one emerging area that gets increasing interest is genetic testing for athletes. As of late last year, just over 70 different companies offer genetic tests for sports performance, and these tests can be ordered online, without any sign-off needed by a medical practitioner. I used to work for one such company, and, through that employment, I was fortunate to consult with a number of elite sporting teams around how they might use genetic information with their athletes. A common question, from the teams and other interested individuals, was whether we could use this technology for to identify athletes with the future potential to be elite.

The surprising performance enhancing effects of bacteria

At the 2008 Olympic Games, Taiwanese weightlifter Chen Wei-Ling won the Bronze medal in the 48-kilogram category, snatching 84 kilograms, and clean and jerking 112 kilograms. Following the disqualification of the original gold and silver medalists, she was later awarded the gold medal for her performance. A decade later she is making headlines for the bacteria in her gut.

Sports Science Monthly – November 2019

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. We start off by looking at research how accurate subjective feeling can be in quantifying training stress. Then we look at a variety of other topics concerning weight training such as pre-competition priming, isometric mid-thigh pull, foot strength, eccentric quasi-isometric resistance, and more.

Optimism in coaching: helpful or harmful?

Are you a better than average driver? In an interesting study from the early 80s, researchers asked a small group of American and Swedish study participants this very question. Their answers were illuminating; 93% of Americans believed they were better than average drivers, as did 69% of Swedes. Logically, this makes no sense; only 50% of people can be better than average drivers, and yet, these study results suggest that many people are unable to accurately understand their true driving ability relative to others.