Entries by Craig Pickering

Sleep, stress, and physical performance

Whilst athletes and coaches have long focused on the physical aspects of performance enhancement, such as training program design and exercise selection, it is only relatively recently that we have started to pay attention to how stress and sleep might also influence both the magnitude of adaptations seen following a training program, and competition performance. Based on this recent research, we have an increased understanding of the need to account for psychological stress, including, in the case of younger athletes, academic work load, when developing optimal training programs.

More lessons from the IAAF biomechanics project

At the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, the IAAF and Leeds Beckett University collaborated on a wide-ranging and expansive biomechanics project, with the aim of giving us further insights into the biomechanical underpinnings of elite performance. Of interest to me was, of course, the data from the 100-meter dash, given my history in that event. Immediately following the final, the IAAF released some rough and ready data, which I analyzed at the time for HMMRMedia. Then, in July this year, they released the extended report, including great coaching commentary from PJ Vazel. There are a few interesting facets of the study which I hope to shed light on here.

Sports Science Monthly – November 2018

We cover a wide range of topics in the November edition of Sports Science Monthly. Our first report looks at new research providing some interesting insights into reaction times of Olympic sprinters. We also look at research on several supplements including creatine and caffeine, the connection between testing and performance in team sports, as well as deceleration and injury prevention.

Setting up training around a competition

Competing is the reason that we’re all involved in sport, and how you or your athlete performs in those competitions is what determines whether you’re a success or a failure; no one gets medals for good training programs. However, when discussing training theory, we tend to focus on the mechanics of physical preparation in the big picture, while neglecting the short periods of time directly before and directly after a competition.

Sports Science Monthly – October 2018

There are lots of hot topics covered in the October edition of Sports Science Monthly. We start off by looking at the transfer of different types of strength to sprinting, then see how monitoring can be taken best from theory to practice, before diving into density of high speed training, adductor strengthening, dehydration, transcranial direct current stimulation, and more.

Measuring caffeine consumption is harder than you think

Caffeine is a well-established performance enhancer; this is no secret, with many athletes using it to improve their performance. Non-athletes know this too, which is why almost 80% of the world’s population consume caffeine on a daily basis. As a result, caffeine is ubiquitous, and we are exposed to it in a number of different ways; primarily through hot drinks (such as tea or coffee), but also through foods (like dark chocolate) and medicines (many extra strength cold and flu or pain medicines contain caffeine).

How much does your family impact your chances of winning an Olympic medal?

The Olympics represent the pinnacle of sport, and competing in one is recognized as a major achievement in an athlete’s career and winning an Olympic medal akin to the finding the Holy Grail. Given the importance of such an achievement to countries and governing bodies, there is an increased interest in understanding the factors that increase the chances of such an achievement. A recent study published in Frontiers of Physiology sheds some additional light on this as the authors explore the impact that having an Olympian in the family has on an athletes chance of winning a medal.