Welcome back to another edition of this column. We have plenty of things to look at this month, including a few hot topics in sports nutrition – gluten, beetroot juice, carbohydrates, and vegetarians – as well as a look at a bit of research that examines how subconscious cues can affect exercise performance. We also have a stab at answering other questions like “just how bad are injuries?”
Entries by Craig Pickering
Placebo (noun): “A medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect.”
This month, we look at a wide range of disciplines, with studies coming from sports psychology, sports nutrition, strength and conditioning, and biomechanics – and, as always, we finish off with a quick fire round up. The first overview will be free for everyone, but to read the complete September edition you must be a HMMR Plus Member. HMMR Plus is a new offering we have that gives users access to exclusive content like our article archive, webinars, online meet ups, and of course Sports Science Monthly. Therefore sign up now to gain access to Sports Science Monthly and more. To see what Sports Science Monthly is about, our April and May editions are available for free. With that said, let’s dive in!
How many of you use averages in order to inform your decisions? I know I do; as an athlete I focused on finding out what the average performance was at major championships to achieve certain placings, so that I could use that information in order to create my own individual goals. As a sports scientist, I use averages a lot – typically I tend to compare the average improvement in one group with the average improvement of another. But is the average actually a useful metric, or is it overused?
How often do we focus our analysis on winners? They could be winners in any aspect of life; sport, business, medicine, but the case is clear – we tend to look towards those who are successful for clues and lessons on how to be more successful ourselves. But is this actually the right way to do things?
Welcome back to the fourth installment of Sports Science Monthly. This month’s edition will cover one of my favorite topics: sleep. But it will also spread out to discuss recovery, the extra-time period in soccer, how to measure strength, whether sex reduces performance, circadian rhythms, and the use of ketones as a performance enhancing agent.
Many years ago, in 2003, I raced at the World Youth Championships in Canada. Just sixteen years old, and having only been doing athletics for two and a half years, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Going into those championships, I wasn’t really a medal hopeful; I had, at best, an outside chance. I had run 10.54 earlier that year, but then suffered a bad hamstring injury, and missed a number of races in the run up the championships. I can’t remember exactly where I was ranked going in, but on the end-of-year rankings I was equal 14th in the World (alongside Daniel Bailey), a good way back from the World Leader, Oluwole Ogunde from Nigeria, who had run 10.38 that season. As I didn’t know what to expect, I was quite nervous before my heat, which led to me running a personal best of 10.53, and feeling pretty comfortable. I was the fastest qualifier was the semi-final, which was to take place the next day.
When I was 14, I started my GCSE programme at school (for those of you that aren’t British, this is a series of exams taken at age 16 called General Certificates of Secondary Education), and one of the subjects I chose to study was physical education. As part of this subject, we had a one lesson a week dedicated to the theory aspect of PE, of which physiology, biomechanics and psychology were a big part. I remember being enthralled by all of this, and I read the textbook we were given over the course of a weekend; something that both my teachers and the other students found very weird. But I was fascinated because what I was learning was helping to explain things that I had noticed over the course of my two year athletics career – the reason I was quick was because of fast twitch muscle fibres, things like that. But I also saw the enormous potential that all this knowledge could give me in improving my sports performance. As an example, I learned about sports training principles, which go by the acronym SPORT: Specificity, Progression, Overload, Reversibility, & Tedium. The specificity principle was incredibly important to me at that point in time, because I was doing the “old-school” method of sprint training, which involved lots of long, slow runs. I hated this type of training, and what I learned gave me the knowledge, and confidence, to try and find a better way.
Welcome back to the fourth installment of Sports Science Monthly. This month we will be taking a closer look at a wide range of recent research on topics ranging from sleep to social media for athletes. The first overview is free. To access the summaries other the remaining topics you need to be a HMMR Plus Member. HMMR Plus is a new offering we have that gives users access to exclusive content like our article archive, webinars, online meet ups, and of course Sports Science Monthly. Therefore sign up now to gain access to Sports Science Monthly and more.
You’re a rational human being aren’t you? You evaluate the evidence, and then make a decision based on the strength on that evidence. You have an open mind. Except you’re human, and that means that you’re perhaps not as rational as you might think. You see, there’s something called confirmation bias. This is where we tend to search for information that supports our preconceptions. If we come across new information, we tend to interpret it in such a way that it will confirm our previously held beliefs. This is one of many biases that together it impossible humans from being rational in our day to day lives.