If you’re someone who regularly exercises, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of a cramp, or, more specifically, exercise associated muscle cramp (EAMC). During my career, I regularly suffered from leg cramps at highly inopportune moments, including on the start line of the 2011 National Championships 100-meter final, which prevented me from being able to compete. Cramps are common, with well over half, and in many cases over two-thirds, of athletes across a variety of sports reporting having experienced it. Given the wide occurrence of cramping, you might think that it would be well understood. You would be wrong.
Entries by Craig Pickering
We find ourselves in very strange times, with the COVID-19 causing shut down of all but essential services. As a result local and international competitions have been cancelled or postponed, including the Olympics, Paralympics, and World Under-20 Championships. Even finding a place to train is nearly impossible.
Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. Athletes often complaint about small niggles, but how seriously that needs to be taken has not been researched much. In this month’s edition we start off by taking a look at new research on the topic, plus updates on the art of coaching, performance health, youth sports scaling, sports psychology technology, and high pressure training.
Back in 1993, Anders Ericsson made his name by publishing a study in which he claimed that deliberate practice—the time spent practicing a skill designed solely for the purpose of performance enhancement—was the main differentiator between good and elite violinists. This soon became highly popularized—although Ericsson is keen to point out not by him—as the 10,000 hour rule.
Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. This month we start off by looking at some of the key success factors behind Caribbean sprint supremacy. Then we learn advice from top researchers, a look at systems thinking, and much more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.