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Anaerobic Speed Reserve and Performance Relationships Between International and World-Class Short-Track Speed Skating

Simon Deguire, Gareth N. Sandford, and François Bieuzen

Purpose: Short-track speed skating race distances of 500, 1000, and 1500 m that last ∼40 seconds to ∼2.5 minutes and require a maximal intensity at speeds beyond maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). Recently, the anaerobic speed reserve (ASR) has been applied by scientists and coaches in middle-distance sports to deepen understanding of 1- to 5-minute event performance where different physiological profiles (speed, hybrid, and endurance) can have success. Methods: World-class (women, n = 2; men, n = 3) and international-level (women, n = 4; men, n = 5) short-track speed skaters completed maximal aerobic speed and maximal skating speed tests. ASR characteristics were compared between profiles and associated with on-ice performance. Results: World-class athletes raced at a lower %ASR in the 1000- (3.1%; large; almost certainly) and 1500-m (1.8%; large; possibly) events than international athletes. Men’s and women’s speed profiles operated at a higher %ASR in the 500-m than hybrid and endurance profiles, whereas in the 1500-m, endurance profiles worked at a substantially lower %ASR than hybrid and speed profiles. Women’s 500-m performance is very largely associated with maximal skating speed, while women’s maximal aerobic speed appears to be a key determining factor in the 1000- and 1500-m performance. Conclusion: World-class short-track speed skaters can be developed in speed, hybrid, and endurance profiles but achieve their performance differently by leveraging their strongest characteristics. These results show nuanced differences between men’s and women’s 500-, 1000- and 1500-m event performance across ASR profile that unlock new insights for individualizing athlete performance in these disciplines.

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ChatGPT for Sample-Size Calculation in Sports Medicine and Exercise Sciences: A Cautionary Note

Jabeur Methnani, Imed Latiri, Ismail Dergaa, Karim Chamari, and Helmi Ben Saad

Purpose: To investigate the accuracy of ChatGPT (Chat generative pretrained transformer), a large language model, in calculating sample size for sport-sciences and sports-medicine research studies. Methods: We conducted an analysis on 4 published papers (ie, examples 1–4) encompassing various study designs and approaches for calculating sample size in 3 sport-science and -medicine journals, including 3 randomized controlled trials and 1 survey paper. We provided ChatGPT with all necessary data such as mean, percentage SD, normal deviates (Z α/2 and Z 1−β ), and study design. Prompting from 1 example has subsequently been reused to gain insights into the reproducibility of the ChatGPT response. Results: ChatGPT correctly calculated the sample size for 1 randomized controlled trial but failed in the remaining 3 examples, including the incorrect identification of the formula in one example of a survey paper. After interaction with ChatGPT, the correct sample size was obtained for the survey paper. Intriguingly, when the prompt from Example 3 was reused, ChatGPT provided a completely different sample size than its initial response. Conclusions: While the use of artificial-intelligence tools holds great promise, it should be noted that it might lead to errors and inconsistencies in sample-size calculations even when the tool is fed with the necessary correct information. As artificial-intelligence technology continues to advance and learn from human feedback, there is hope for improvement in sample-size calculation and other research tasks. However, it is important for scientists to exercise caution in utilizing these tools. Future studies should assess more advanced/powerful versions of this tool (ie, ChatGPT4).

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Efficacy of Resisted Sled Sprint Training Compared With Unresisted Sprint Training on Acceleration and Sprint Performance in Rugby Players: An 8-Week Randomized Controlled Trial

Marco Panascì, Simone Di Gennaro, Vittoria Ferrando, Luca Filipas, Piero Ruggeri, and Emanuela Faelli

Purpose: To compare the effects between resisted sled sprint training (RSS) and unresisted sprint training (URS) on sprint and acceleration performance, vertical jump, and maximal strength during an 8-week period of preseason training. Methods: Twenty-six recreational active rugby players were randomly divided into either RSS or URS training groups and then performed 8 weeks of training, 2 sessions/wk of sprint-specific training program. The RSS group performed sprints by towing a sled overloaded with 12.6% of body mass for 2 of the 3 sets of 3 × 20-m sprints, plus one set was carried out with unresisted modality. The URS groups performed 3 sets of 3 × 20-m unresisted sprints. The measures of 10- and 30-m sprint times, vertical jump, and 3-repetition-maximum (3-RM) squat tests were performed at baseline and after 8 weeks. Results: Ten- and 30-m sprint times (P < .05 and η p 2 > .44 ) improved significantly more in RSS than in URS. Both groups improved significantly in vertical jump and 3-RM squat tests; however, no significant differences (P > .1 and η p 2 < .11 ) between groups were found. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that an 8-week program of RSS is more effective than URS for enhancing sprint time performance in male recreational active rugby players. In addition, these data suggest that a sled overload corresponding to 12.6% of body mass can induce positive effects on both acceleration and speed performance in recreational active rugby players.

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Predictive Contribution of the Superficial Neck Muscles to Short-Latency Rate of Force Development of the Head and Neck

Lucie Pelland, Ian A. Gilchrist, Wissal Mesfar, Jonathan Lommen, and Kodjo Moglo

Purpose: To evaluate the contribution of splenius capitis, sternocleidomastoid, and upper fibers of trapezius activation to the gains in rate of force development (RFD) of the head and neck during maximum voluntary ballistic contractions. Methods: RFD gain was facilitated by a single-session intervention for maximum voluntary ballistic contractions in the anterior direction, oriented at 45° to the midsagittal plane, which require active restraint of axial rotation. Muscle activation for the agonist (sternocleidomastoid) and 2 antagonists (splenius capitis and upper fibers of trapezius) was evaluated. The study sample included 12 physically active men (mean age, 22.6 y). RFD (N·m·s−1; 0–100 ms) and integrated muscle activity (50 ms before and 100 ms after force onset) were measured at 10 minutes, 20 minutes, and 2 days postintervention, relative to baseline. Muscle activation predictive of RFD gains was evaluated by linear regression analysis. RFD reproducibility was evaluated using the coefficient of variation of the typical error. Results: The intervention yielded a 1.95- to 2.39-fold RFD gain (P ≤ .05), with greater RFD gain for participants with a lower peak moment of force (<10.9 N·m) than those with a higher peak moment (≥10.9 N·m) at baseline (P ≤ .002). For the low group, 65% to 74% of the RFD gain was predicted by ipsilateral sternocleidomastoid activation, with ipsilateral splenius capitis activation predicting 77% to 92% of RFD gain for the high group. Absolute peak and impulse of static force were greater for the high than for the low group (P ≤ .04). RFD reproducibility was high (coefficient of variation of the typical error ≤ 14.4%). Conclusions: The agonist- and antagonist-focused synergies might reflect different functional priorities, higher RFD gain compared with higher head–neck force.

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Relationships of Contact Technique in Training and Matches With Performance and Injury Outcomes in Male Rugby Union

Steve den Hollander, Michael Lambert, Demi Davidow, Ben Jones, and Sharief Hendricks

The aims of this study were 3-fold: (1) to compare technical proficiency scores between training and matches for tackling, ball-carrying, and rucking outcomes; (2) to determine the relationship between technique in training and technique in matches for tackling, ball carrying, and rucking; and (3) to determine how contact technique (in training and matches) relates to match performance and injury outcomes. Twenty-four male players from an amateur rugby union club participated in the study. At the beginning of the season, players’ contact technique proficiency was assessed in a training drill. Contact technique in matches was assessed during 14 competitive matches. The technique proficiency was assessed using standardized criteria, and the outcomes of each tackle, ball carry, and ruck were recorded. In training and matches, positive performance outcomes were associated with higher contact technique proficiency scores. For instance, in both settings, tackle technique was significantly lower in missed tackles when compared to effective and ineffective tackles. Players’ contact technique scores in matches also had a positive effect on their tackle performance in matches. Ball-carry technique was associated with tackle breaks in matches (P < .05, r 2 = .31). In training and match environments, tackler, ball-carrier, and ruck technique scores were significantly associated with effective tackles, ball carries, and rucks. Despite the relationship between technical proficiency scores and performance, there were small to moderately higher scores in training compared with matches. The current study highlights the importance of contact skill training, in different environments and conditions, to ensure that skills developed in training are transferred to match performance.

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Simultaneous Upper- and Lower-Limb Postactivation Performance Enhancement After Clean and Jerk

Cleonir Caldeira Jr, Adriano E. Lima-Silva, Valmor Tricoli, Cintia L.N. Rodacki, and Anderson C. Paulo

Studies on postactivation performance enhancement (PAPE) have used different exercises as a conditioning activity to investigate potentiation, but exclusively in upper limbs (UL) or lower (LL) limbs, or contralateral potentiation. A single exercise capable of inducing PAPE in both UL and LL is currently unknown. The present study explored the effect of the clean and jerk (C&J) as a conditioning activity for simultaneously producing PAPE interlimbs at the fourth, seventh, and 12th minutes postintervention. Twelve male weightlifters with 1-repetition maximum (1RM) in the C&J equivalent to ≥1.15 × body mass were randomly submitted to 2 experimental conditions (C&J and control [CON]). The C&J condition consisted of general warm-up (running on a treadmill and self-selected preparatory exercises) and 4 sets of 3 repetitions of C&J with 2 minutes between them (30%1RM, 50%1RM, 65%1RM, and 80%1RM) followed by a countermovement jump and a bench-press throw on a Smith machine after 4, 7, and 12 minutes, to measure the magnitude of PAPE in UL and LL. No previous exercise preceded countermovement-jump and bench-press-throw tests in the CON besides general warm-up. The main finding was that, regardless of time, the C&J resulted in greater height on countermovement jump and Smith machine bench-press throw when compared with the CON, presenting a similar effect size between UL and LL (34.6 [3.9] vs 33.4 [4.1] cm [+3.66%]; P = .038; effect size = 0.30 and 30.3 [4.7] vs 29.0 [5.1] cm [+4.44%]; P = .039; effect size = 0.26), respectively. Thus, C&J can be useful to produce PAPE simultaneously among members.

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Effectiveness of a Variable-Speed Control Based on Auditory Feedback: Is It Possible?

Leonardo Lagos-Hausheer, Renata L. Bona, and Carlo M. Biancardi

Purpose: Variable-speed control in the field is challenging for motion science. Tests were performed to evaluate speed, Froude number, and oxygen consumption if these varied when using the same frequency of steps. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of auditory feedback to control variable speed on the treadmill and track during acceleration cycles around the transition speed. Methods: Twenty-four trained men participated. The protocol was based on 5 ramps of 50 seconds each around 80%, 90%, 100%, 110%, and 120% of the walking–running transition speed, recording the frequency of steps with a mobile phone during the treadmill test. The tests were replicated on the track using auditory feedback. Results: When evaluating each speed of the protocols separately for the same frequency of steps, the average speed on the track was always higher on average at 54.7% compared to the laboratory (P < .050), and on the track, it was 16.2% higher than in the laboratory (P > .050). Conclusions: It cannot be considered that the same frequency of steps is equivalent to the same speed in the laboratory and on the track. These results point to the importance of reliable speed control during open field tests.

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Academic Freedom? Not in the United States (at Least at the Mayo Clinic)

Carl Foster

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Volume 18 (2023): Issue 8 (Aug 2023)

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Mental Rehearsal Improves Passing Skill and Stress Resilience in Rugby Players

C. Martyn Beaven, Liam P. Kilduff, and Christian J. Cook

Purpose: Mental rehearsal is commonly employed, with positive visualization proposed to enhance complex skill performance. Additionally, video stimulus has been associated with enhanced kinesthetic sensations and rapid hormone fluctuations that may contribute to enhancing mental rehearsal and the conscious and unconscious emotional state for skill execution. Here, we assessed the impact of a 15-minute mental rehearsal intervention on rugby-specific tasks and the associated hormone profile. Methods: Professional rugby players (N = 10) volunteered for a randomized crossover study. They completed three 15-minute preparatory phases (positive or negative video-guided mental rehearsal or self-directed mental rehearsal alone) prior to an exercise stressor and rugby-specific passing task. Salivary testosterone and cortisol were monitored to assess stress responses. Results: Performance during the rugby passing task was improved following the positive video condition (91% [7.4%]) compared to the negative video (79% [6.0%]; ES: 1.22 ± 0.75) and self-visualization (86% [5.8%]; ES: 0.58 ± 0.75), with a significant correlation observed between passing performance and salivary testosterone (r = .47 ± .34, P = .0087). Positive video imagery prior to an exercise stressor also significantly enhanced physiological stress resilience (r = .39 ± .36, P = .0352). Conclusions: This pilot study demonstrates that mental rehearsal was enhanced by appropriate, context-specific video presentation. We propose that the interaction between sex steroids, the adrenal axis, and subsequent conscious and unconscious behaviors may be relevant to competitive rugby. Specifically, we suggest that relatively elevated free testosterone imparts a degree of stress resilience, which may lead to enhanced expression of competitive behaviors and provide an enhanced state for rugby skill execution.