The search for the best lane

All athletes in the long sprints have experienced the anguish of waiting for the lane draw for their race, in the hopes that they get a favorable lane. Common wisdom holds that the middle lanes – three to six – are generally more favorable, with the outer lanes avoided and inner lanes feared. The reasons often cited are that the inner lanes tend to be tighter, making it harder for sprinters to reach their top speed. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – May 2018

In the May edition of Sports Science Monthly we look at new research across a variety of areas including the latest research on caffeine, how genetics impact caffeine, pre-exercise stretching, recovery, muscular strength, and more. Read more

The importance of sprinting in injury rehabilitation

Start talking about sprinting and it won’t be long until you the discussion turns to hamstring injuries. Hamstring injuries are a major concern of any athlete that has to sprint. Soccer has a notorious hamstring problem, but they are not alone. Hamstring injuries are also the most prevalent form of non-contact injury within sports like athletics, American Football, rugby union, Australian Rules Football, cricket, and basketball. Read more

Don’t confuse outcomes with performance

I’m not an avid watcher of American Football, but through a strange set of circumstances I found myself watching the 2015 Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots in a sports bar in Toronto. If you follow the NFL, you likely know the story, but if not, with 26 seconds remaining on the clock, Seattle was on New England’s one yard line, a score away from victory. On the pitch, they had one of the best runners in the league in Marshawn Lynch, with many fans hoping, and indeed expecting, to see a running play which would result in a touchdown. Instead, a passing play was called by Pete Carroll, Seattle’s coach, which in the end was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, ending Seattle’s dream of consecutive championships. Read more

Hammers, nails, and opening up your world view

The law of the instrument is a cognitive bias that occurs through the over-reliance on a familiar tool. It’s commonly summed up through a quote by Abraham Maslow, where he stated, “it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”. We can follow from this cognitive bias that how we view the world may alter our perceptions of what is actually occurring, which, in the case of improving performance, might lead to sub-optimal results. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – April 2018

In the April edition of Sports Science Monthly we look at new research across a variety of areas including the best time of day to train, dietary supplements, asymmetries in sprinting, monitoring external and internal loads, workload injury relationship, and more. Read more

The most effective solution is not always the best

Effectiveness and utility are key concepts in training. An exercise can be effective if it improves a metric of interest; for example, back squats are an effective way of improving leg strength. An exercise holds utility if its utilization is beneficial within the constraints of a training program. More often than not, effective exercises provide utility. Sometimes, however, the two aren’t the same. Read more

More than a “gene for speed”: what ACTN3 can teach us about muscle

If it’s possible to have a favorite gene, mine is ACTN3, often referred to as the speed gene. But to me it is interesting for more reasons than speed; after all top sprinters have been found to have different variants of the the gene. What is most interesting about it is that it impacts muscle function and architecture. As a result, this one gene can have a large impact on exercise adaptation, post-exercise recovery, and injury risk. Read more

Signal or noise?

The ability to be able to recognize patterns has played a crucial role in the evolution of humans. In order to be able to pass on our DNA, we need to be able to breed, which means that we need to keep ourselves healthy enough (and alive enough) to do. Read more

The normalization of deviance

Just over 15 years ago, the Space Shuttle Columbia began its re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere at the end of its 28th mission. As it did so, Mission Control in Houston started to receive unusual readings from sensors within the left wing, with heat recordings higher than the usual 1370º celsius. These sensors then failed, as did the ones in the landing gear well on the left wing, puzzling the engineers. Read more