The Limits of Human Performance and The Evolution of Athletes

When I was just starting to get involved in athletes, I remember two studies getting a lot of attention. The first stated the the physiological limits of humans meant that the 100-meter world record could not be lower than 9.64 seconds. At the time it was 9.79 seconds. The second was that women were catching up with men in 100-meter performance, and would one day overtake them. Fast forward over 10 years, and we can see that these studies have largely been proved false. For a start, the 100m World Record for men is now 9.58 seconds, faster than was projected to be possible. Secondly, women are not catching men up in performance; if anything men are moving further away. Read more

The Athlete’s Guide to Retirement

There is an inevitable point in every athlete’s life where sport becomes less important. This could be a student or junior athlete giving up on their dreams of becoming a professional athlete, a professional athlete realising that they are no longer competitive, or the Olympic champion succumbing to injury; no matter what the situation, there is a transition from athlete to human being. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – May 2016

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I started a new series last month called the Sports Science Monthly with the goal of translating the latest sports science research into information that coaches can use. In this month’s edition we take a look at five new topics ranging from sled pulls to sleep patterns. The full Sports Science Monthly is available exclusively to HMMR Plus Members, however we have included the first overview free to everyone below. Sign up now to read about all the research. To get an idea of what Sports Science Monthly is all about, our April 2016 edition is available in its entirety for free. Read more

Can You Use Genetic Testing For Talent Identification?

Talent identification is often a hot topic within sports science and sports coaching. If you could find a way to identify people who have the ability to be elite, you could better focus your resources on them, increasing the chances of their success. It also means you can focus less resources on those that likely won’t make it, as cut-throat as that may be. In recent years, a conversation has started to occur regarding the use of genetic testing in talent identification. The thought process being that, if you test a promising athlete’s genes, you can see whether they have the genetic ability to be a world class athlete or not. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – April 2016

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Editor’s Note: We are testing out a new series called the Sports Science Monthly. The goal is to translate the latest sports science research into information that coaches can use. Do you like it? Is it helping your training? Please get in touch on Twitter or via email and let us know.

Welcome to a new monthly collection that I will be writing, looking at sports science for coaches. In today’s sporting climate, coaches aren’t just supposed to coach – they are expected to keep up-to-date with new trends within sports science, including (but not limited to) strength and conditioning, nutrition, biomechanics, and psychology. This creates a lot of problems; many coaches are too busy coaching to sit down and find the correct research. Often, research is presented without context, so the coach doesn’t quite know what the study means. Through these series of articles, I hope to create a resource for coaches to be able to find recent articles that are applicable to them, and be able to place them in context. I will also report on research that isn’t always specifically applicable to a coach, but is a great example of the scientific method in action – including the limitations of science. This isn’t meant to be an overview of the whole sports science field, as time constraints mean I only report on a small number of the research published each month. However, I aim to pick the ones that might be most relevant and applicable. As always, I would welcome your feedback going forward on how to improve the Sports Science Monthly. Read more

My Story of Overtraining

You might have noticed that I felt quite passionate about the topic of overtraining syndrome (OTS) in last week’s blog. The reason for this is that I suffered with bouts of non-functional overreaching (NFO) and OTS throughout my career. I believe it stunted my progression within sport, at least for a period of 18 months, and it really was a miserable time for me. I’m eager to prevent other athletes from going through what I did, so here is my story. Read more

The Overtraining Syndrome

When we design a training programme for athletes, our ultimate goal is to enable them to perform at their best. Inherent within this, we understand that it might involve some hard work. Indeed, the goal of a training programme is to create a stress on the athlete, which results in acute fatigue. The athlete then undergoes a period of recovery, and during this recovery adapts to the stress. Training, therefore, can be viewed as a constant cycle of stress (training) and rest (recovery). At times, it might be appropriate to bias that cycle one way or the other; during periods of high training load we are deliberately placing more stress on the athlete than they can tolerate – ordinarily this would require an increased rest period, but instead we attenuate that rest period to provide more stress. Again, this is good, and part of the training process. When we then bias the cycle towards rest, such as in a taper, the athletes recover, hopefully get some supercompensation, and performance improves. This is known as functional overreaching, and is an important part of training. Often, performance rebounds from a slightly depressed position during the heavy loading to the improved position after a few weeks. Read more

Transfer and Sprinting

Last week the Rugby Strength Coach Podcast sat down with one of our contributors, Craig Pickering. Host Keir Wenham-Flatt from Argentina Rugby talked with Craig aboud the link between high performance and sports science, his experiences as an athlete, and his transition from one sport to another. You can listen to the whole episode here: Read more

Black Box Thinking (Or Why We Shouldn’t Fear Mistakes)

For those of you who have followed my career, you might know that I am responsible for one very large mistake. I was responsible for my country, the reigning Olympic Champions, to be disqualified in the 4x100m relay at the 2008 Olympics. I, personally, made a mistake which most likely cost myself and my team mates an Olympic medal. I’ve written about this elsewhere, so I won’t belabour the point too much, but following this mistake I had two options: Read more

What Should We Eat When We Get Injured?

Are you an athlete? Then I’ve got some bad news for you; you’re going to get injured. But you likely knew that already. Estimates of injury rates in sports people vary, but one injury per 100 hours in training or competition is a fairly moderate estimate; anyone doing any sort of training for a length of time will eventually get some sort of injury. Read more