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Sports Science Monthly – August 2019

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. In the August Sports Science Monthly we continue a discussion we started last month and look at monitoring in sports, specifically Acute Chronic Workload Ratio and its role in injury prediction. Then we look at microbes, caffeine, Nordics, and priming for performance. Read more

The coach as a placebo

One area of sports performance that I constantly find myself fascinated with is that of placebo effects, and its related cousin, expectancy. I find it really interesting that an inert substance can exert clear performance enhancing effects, as this has potentially huge implications for sporting performance. Read more

Does sprint training “inoculate” athletes against hamstring injuries?

Hamstring strain injury (HSI) has remained a problem for athletes across a range of sports that involve sprinting. In team sports such as soccer, HSI is responsible for more games lost than any other injury. Athletes with a history of HSI, or who are older, are at greater risk of injury. Although these risk factors cannot be controlled, there are other risk factors that can be addressed in the physical preparation of athletes. One risk factor is low hamstring strength, and it is common for strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches to prescribe hamstring strengthening exercises as part of an injury prevention program. The choice of exercises has become a controversial issue with practitioners debating the pros and cons of hip dominant or knee dominant exercises, as well as eccentric exercises (e.g. Nordic) versus isometric exercises. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – July 2019

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. The amount of research in sports science has exploded, and for coaches in the trenches it can be hard to keep up on it all. That is one of the reasons we have put together the Sports Science Monthly, and we start off the July edition by looking at where coaches get their sports science information. After that we look into new research on small-sided games, re-examine training load monitoring, as well as looking into other topics. Read more

For sprinters, losing fat may be better than gaining muscle

When it comes to sprint training, two critical factors are the amount of force that can be developed and the speed at which a certain threshold of force can be reached. In training, focus often gravitates to the first point through methods like plyometrics and weight-based resistance training. While weight training, if adequately programmed, has the ability to increase strength, and hence the amount of force an athlete can produce, there is also the potential (although this is currently somewhat contentious) that these increases in strength come along with increases in muscle size, commonly termed muscle hypertrophy. Because additional muscle adds additional mass, the athlete is therefore heavier, which, in turn, may slow the athlete down. As such, resistance training for sprinters is often a balancing act between improving strength and force, whilst minimizing unnecessary muscle hypertrophy. As a general rule, we want to get stronger, not bigger. Read more

Sports Science Monthly – June 2019

Every month we take a deep dive into the latest research in sports science. In the June Sports Science Monthly we start off by looking at new research on how parents can affect athlete development. We then give you the latest updates on how hormones change while recovering from exercise, mental health, collagen and tendon pain, functional movement screening, and more. Read more

The words we use matter

If you’re a big athletics fan, and you have a good memory of semi-obscure sprinters, you may well have seen me race a couple of times. In bigger races, such as those at the Diamond League and major Championships, the camera pans across the competitors as they are introduced. Whilst it is the fashion these days to appear relaxed and jovial, earlier on in my career—in the immediate post-Maurice Greene era—athletes tended to be a bit more serious during this pre-race segment. If you go back and watch races from that period, you will often see athletes talking to themselves, and this is a technique I liked to utilize pre-race. Read more

The definitive guide to what we do and do not know about caffeine and performance

Caffeine is a performance enhancing drug. If you’ve been following my articles over the last couple of years, you’ll no doubt be aware of that, because I write about it a lot. Athletes, of course, know that caffeine has the potential to enhance their performance, which is why many of them consume it prior to training and competition. Additionally, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) know that caffeine is a performance enhancing drug and are, rightly, concerned about the abuse of caffeine in sport. Read more

A critical comparison of vertical jump testing methods

Vertical jump testing has become a staple of assess athletes. Decades ago the standard coach had to rely on the jump and reach test in order to testing jumping ability. Thanks to new technology and research, today coaches can now better analyze sport-specific jumping performance and more easily measure variables other than simple jump height. Jump height remains the most popular measure, but that is slowly changing as more technology enters the weight room. The advantages and disadvantages of different methods of vertical jump testing will be discussed below, with particular reference to the procedures required to obtain valid results. This is important because if the method you use is not valid or measuring accurately what it is intended to, your assessment will be of little value. Read more

GAINcast Episode 161: Range (with David Epstein)

Look at the top athletes in the world and you’ll notice they come from a variety of backgrounds. Tiger Woods began specializing at a young age, while Roger Federer only specialized as he started to achieve success later. Why did Federer benefit from a generalist childhood vs. a specialization one? Author David Epstein has focused on the topic for his upcoming book Range. He joins the GAINcast this week to talk about what he has found in the research on early specialization in sports, and as well as in other aspects of life. Read more