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Velocity–Load Jump Testing Predicts Acceleration Performance in Elite Speed Skaters: But Does Movement Specificity Matter?

Matthew Zukowski, Walter Herzog, and Matthew J. Jordan

Purpose: In this study, we compared the influence of movement specificity during velocity–load jump testing to predict on-ice acceleration performance in elite speed skaters. Methods: Elite long-track speed skaters (N = 27) performed velocity–load testing with 3 external loads during unilateral horizontal jumping, lateral jumping, and bilateral vertical countermovement jumping. For the unilateral tests, external load conditions were set to 10 N, 7.5% and 15% of external load relative to body weight. For the countermovement jumping, load conditions were body weight and 30% and 60% of external load relative to body weight. On-ice performance measures were obtained during maximal 50-m accelerations from a standing start, including maximal skating speed, maximal acceleration capacity, and maximum horizontal power. The 100-m split time from a 500-m race was also obtained. Regularized regression models were used to identify the most important predictors of on-ice acceleration performance. In addition to regularized regression coefficients, Pearson correlation coefficients (r) were calculated for all variables retained by the model to assess interrelationships between single predictors and on-ice performance measures. Results: The countermovement jump with 30% of body mass demonstrated the strongest association with maximal skating speed, maximum horizontal power, and 100-m time (regularized regression coefficient = .16−.49, r = .84−.97, P < .001). Horizontal jump with 15% of body mass was the strongest predictor of maximal acceleration capacity performance (regularized regression coefficient = .08, r = .83, P < .001). Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that mechanical specificity rather than movement specificity was more relevant for predicting on-ice acceleration performance.

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Comparative Effects of Advanced Footwear Technology in Track Spikes and Road-Racing Shoes on Running Economy

Dustin P. Joubert, Garrett M. Oehlert, Eric J. Jones, and Geoffrey T. Burns

Purpose: Determine the effects of advanced footwear technology (AFT) in track spikes and road-racing shoes on running economy (RE). Methods: Four racing shoes (3 AFT and 1 control) and 3 track spikes (2 AFT and 1 control) were tested in 9 male distance runners on 2 visits. Shoes were tested in a random sequence over 5-minute trials on visit 1 (7 trials at 16 km·h−1; 5-min rest between trials) and in the reverse/mirrored order on visit 2. Metabolic data were collected and averaged across visits. Results: There were significant differences across footwear conditions for oxygen consumption (F = 13.046; P < .001) and energy expenditure (F = 14.710; P < .001). Oxygen consumption (in milliliters per kilogram per minute) in both the first AFT spike (49.1 [1.7]; P < .001; d z  = 2.1) and the other AFT spike (49.3 [1.7]; P < .001; d z  = 1.7) was significantly lower than the control spike (50.2 [1.6]), which represented a 2.1% (1.0%) and 1.8% (1.0%) improvement in RE, respectively, for the AFT spikes. When comparing the subjects’ most economic shoe by oxygen consumption (49.0 [1.5]) against their most economic spike (49.0 [1.8]), there were no statistical differences (P = .82). Similar statistical conclusions were made when comparing energy expenditure (in watts per kilogram). Conclusions: AFT track spikes improved RE ∼2% relative to a traditional spike. Despite their heavier mass, AFT shoes resulted in similar RE as AFT spikes. This could make the AFT shoe an attractive option for longer track races, particularly in National Collegiate Athletic Association and high school athletics, where there are no stack-height rules.

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Pacing Strategies in Elite Individual-Medley Swimmers: A Decision-Tree Approach

Chin-Kuei Yang, Yu-Chia Hsu, and Chen-Kang Chang

Purpose: This study aimed to examine pacing strategies and identify the stroke that has the most significant impact on overall performance in men’s and women’s 200-m and 400-m individual-medley events from 2000 to 2021. Methods: The time in each lap and overall race was retrieved from the World Aquatics website. The standardized time for each stroke in individual medley was calculated by dividing the actual time by a reference time specific to each stroke. The reference time was derived from the respective laps in single-stroke finals in the 2017 World Swimming Championships. The decision-tree method was used for analysis. The dependent variables were qualified or nonqualified in heats and semifinals, and winning medals in finals. The independent variables were the ratio of standardized time in each stroke to the sum of standardized time in all 4 strokes. Results: Swimmers who spent a higher ratio of standardized time in the butterfly stroke (>0.236–0.245) are associated with a higher likelihood of winning medals or qualifying for the next stage in most men’s and women’s 200-m and 400-m individual medley. Butterfly exhibited the highest normalized importance that distinguished medalists from nonmedalists in the finals. The front-crawl stroke is the second most important determinant in medalists in men’s and women’s 200-m individual medley, whereas backstroke and breaststroke were the second most important in men’s and women’s 400-m individual medley, respectively. Conclusion: Individual-medley swimmers who were excellent in butterfly and conserved energy in butterfly had a higher likelihood of success.

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The Autoregulation Rest-Redistribution Training Method Mitigates Sex Differences in Neuromuscular and Perceived Fatigue During Resistance Training

Antonio Dello Iacono, Kevin Watson, and Ivan Jukic

Purpose: To examine the sex differences in performance and perceived fatigue during resistance training prescribed using traditional (TRA) and autoregulation rest-redistribution training (ARRT) approaches. Methods: Twelve resistance-trained men and 12 women completed 2 sessions including the bench-press exercise matched for load (75% of 1-repetition maximum), volume (24 repetitions), and total rest (240 s). Sessions were performed in a counterbalanced randomized design with TRA consisting of 3 sets of 8 repetitions with 120-second interset rest and ARRT employing a personalized combination of clusters, repetitions per cluster, and between-clusters rest regulated with a 20% velocity-loss threshold. The effects of TRA and ARRT on velocity loss, unilateral isometric peak force, and rating of fatigue (ROF) were compared between sexes. Results: The velocity loss was generally lower during ARRT compared with TRA (−0.47% [0.11%]), with velocity loss being mitigated by ARRT to a greater extent among males compared with females (−0.37% [0.15%]). A smaller unilateral isometric peak force decline was observed after ARRT than TRA among males compared with females (−38.4 [8.4] N). Lower ROF after ARRT than TRA was found among males compared to females (−1.97 [0.55] AU). Additionally, males reported greater ROF than females across both conditions (1.92 [0.53] AU), and ARRT resulted in lower ROF than TRA overall (−0.83 [0.39] AU). Conclusions: The ARRT approach resulted in decreased velocity loss, peak force impairment, and ROF compared with TRA in both sexes. However, male subjects exhibited more pronounced acute within-session benefits from the ARRT method.

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Subjective and Objective Monitoring Markers: Are They Related to Game Performance Indicators in Elite Female Volleyball Players?

André Rebelo, Diogo V. Martinho, Inês G. Pires, Inês Arrais, Ricardo Lima, João Valente-dos-Santos, and João R. Pereira

Purpose: This cohort study aimed to investigate the relationship between subjective (wellness and internal training load [ITL]) and objective (neuromuscular fatigue) monitoring markers and performance aspects (reception quality [RQ] and attack efficiency [AE]) in professional female volleyball players. Methods: The study was conducted over an 8-week period during the final mesocycle of the competitive phase. A total of 24 training sessions and 10 matches were included in the analysis. Subjective measures of wellness and ITL were assessed, and neuromuscular fatigue was evaluated using countermovement-jump (CMJ) height. RQ and AE were determined based on game statistics. Results: The study found a positive relationship between wellness and RQ, particularly affecting outside hitters and liberos. ITL showed a positive association with AE, primarily impacting outside hitters, opposite hitters, and middle blockers. Additionally, ITL demonstrated a negative correlation with RQ, mainly affecting outside hitters and liberos. CMJ performance was associated with AE, where a decrease in CMJ height was linked to reduced AE. Conclusions: The findings highlight the importance of considering players’ wellness scores in training and match strategies for different positions. Careful management of training loads, considering both physical and technical demands, is crucial for optimizing performance outcomes. Monitoring neuromuscular fatigue, as indicated by CMJ performance, is particularly relevant for outside hitters, opposite hitters, and middle blockers involved in attack actions. Coaches, trainers, and sports practitioners can use these insights to develop position-specific training protocols and implement effective strategies for maintaining or improving performance metrics under various stressors.

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Cadence Paradox in Cycling—Part 2: Theory and Simulation of Maximal Lactate Steady State and Carbohydrate Utilization Dependent on Cycling Cadence

Ralph Beneke and Renate M. Leithäuser

Purpose: To develop and evaluate a theory on the frequent observation that cyclists prefer cadences (RPMs) higher than those considered most economical at submaximal exercise intensities via modeling and simulation of its mathematical description. Methods: The theory combines the parabolic power-to-velocity (v) relationship, where v is defined by crank length, RPM-dependent ankle velocity, and gear ratio, RPM effects on the maximal lactate steady state (MLSS), and lactate-dependent carbohydrate oxidation (CHO). It was tested against recent experimental results of 12 healthy male recreational cyclists determining the v-dependent peak oxygen uptake (VO 2PEAKv ), MLSS (MLSS v ), corresponding power output (P MLSSv ), oxygen uptake at P MLSSv (VO 2MLSSv ), and CHO MLSSv -management at 100 versus 50 per minute, respectively. Maximum RPM (RPM MAX ) attained at minimized pedal torque was measured. RPM-specific maximum sprint power output (P MAXv ) was estimated at RPMs of 100 and 50, respectively. Results: Modeling identified that MLSS v and P MLSSv related to P MAXv (IP MLSSv ) promote CHO and that VO 2MLSSv related to VO 2PEAKv inhibits CHO. It shows that cycling at higher RPM reduces IP MLSSv . It suggests that high cycling RPMs minimize differences in the reliance on CHO at MLSS v between athletes with high versus low RPM MAX . Conclusions : The present theory-guided modeling approach is exclusively based on data routinely measured in high-performance testing. It implies a higher performance reserve above IP MLSSv at higher RPM. Cyclists may prefer high cycling RPMs because they appear to minimize differences in the reliance on CHO at MLSS v between athletes with high versus low RPM MAX .

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Effect of 6-Week Sprint Training on Long-Distance Running Performance in Highly Trained Runners

Ryosuke Ando, Chihiro Kojima, Saya Okamoto, Nobukazu Kasai, Daichi Sumi, Kenji Takao, Kazushige Goto, and Yasuhiro Suzuki

Purpose : Long-distance running performance has been reported to be associated with sprint performance in highly trained distance runners. Therefore, we hypothesized that sprint training could enhance distance running and sprint performance in long-distance runners. This study examined the effect of 6-week sprint training on long-distance running and sprint performance in highly trained distance runners. Methods : Nineteen college runners were divided into control (n = 8) and training (n = 11) groups. Participants in the training group performed 12 sprint training sessions in 6 weeks, while those in the control group performed 12 distance training sessions. Before and after the interventions, maximal oxygen uptake ( V ˙ O 2 max ), O2 cost during submaximal running (290 m·min−1 and 310 m·min−1 of running velocity), and time to exhaustion (starting at 290 m·min–1 and increased 10 m·min–1 every minute) were assessed on a treadmill. Additionally, the 100-m and 400-m sprinting times and 3000-m running time were determined on an all-weather track. Results : In the control group, no measurements significantly changed after the intervention. In the training group, the time to exhaustion, 100-m and 400-m sprinting times, and 3000-m running time improved significantly, while V ˙ O 2 max and O2 cost did not change. Conclusions : These results showed that 6-week sprint training improved both sprint and long-distance running performance in highly trained distance runners without a change in aerobic capacity. Improvement in the time to exhaustion without a change in V ˙ O 2 max suggests that the enhancement of long-distance running performance could be attributable to improved anaerobic capacity.

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Habitual Nocturnal Sleep, Napping Behavior, and Recovery Following Training and Competition in Elite Water Polo: Sex-Related Effects

Nickos G. Koutouvakis, Nickos D. Geladas, Athanasios Mouratidis, Argyris G. Toubekis, and Petros G. Botonis

Purpose: To examine nocturnal sleep patterns, napping behaviors, and subjective wellness responses of elite water polo players within an in-season week and to identify whether sleeping patterns differ between men and women. Methods: Sleep characteristics of 10 male and 17 female professional water polo players were objectively assessed during 1 week of the in-season period, including 5 training days, 1 match day, and 1 day of rest. Internal load (rating of perceived exertion × duration of training or match) was assessed 30 minutes posttraining or postmatch, and the total quality of recovery was recorded every morning. A series of multilevel models were used to analyze the data. Results: Time in bed and wake-up time were earlier on both training (P < .001) and rest days (P < .001) than on the day of the match. Internal workload did not predict any of the players’ sleeping patterns. Midday naps predicted less time in bed (P = .03) and likely less sleep time (P = .08). The total quality of recovery was predicted only by the total sleep time (P < .01). Women exhibited higher sleep efficiency (P < .001), less waking after sleep onset (P = .01), and a lower number of awakenings (P = .02) than men. Conclusions: The current results indicate that the nocturnal sleep patterns of elite water polo players are not associated with internal load and that women display better nocturnal sleep quality compared with men. As long naps interfere with nocturnal sleep, and total nocturnal sleep time predicts total quality of recovery, we suggest that athletes follow hygiene sleep strategies to facilitate adequate nocturnal sleep and next-day recovery.

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Monitoring Within-Individual Dose–Response Relationships in Professional Soccer Players: The Importance of Fitness Level

Alireza Rabbani, Giorgios Ermidis, Filipe Manuel Clemente, and Liam Anderson

Purpose: To (1) examine within-individual player dose–response associations between selected training-load measures and changes in aerobic fitness level via submaximal exercise heart rate (HRex%) and (2) measure the relationships between these dose–response associations with basal HRex% (to study the influence of fitness level on dose–response relationship). Methods: During an in-season phase, selected training-load measures including total minutes, total distance, mechanical work (the sum number of accelerations and decelerations > 3 m2), high metabolic load distance, and Edwards’ training impulse were collected via Global Positioning System and heart-rate sensors for analyzing accumulated load. A submaximal warm-up test was used repeatedly before and after 9 phases to elicit HRex% and track fitness changes at an individual level. Results: Negative to positive extensive ranges of within-individual associations were found among players for different metrics (r = −.84 to .89). The relationship between pooled HRex% (basal fitness) and dose–response correlations showed inverse very large (r = −.71) and large (r = −.65) values for accumulated weekly minutes and distance. However, moderate values were found for all other measures (r = −.35 to −.42). Conclusions: Individual players show extensive different ranges of dose–response associations with training measures. The dose–response association is influenced by players’ fitness level, and players with lower fitness levels show stronger inverse relationships with accumulated minutes and total distance.

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Predicting Injuries in Elite Female Football Players With Global-Positioning-System and Multiomics Data

Juan R. González, Alejandro Cáceres, Eva Ferrer, Laura Balagué-Dobón, Xavier Escribà-Montagut, David Sarrat-González, Guillermo Quintás, and Gil Rodas

Purpose: Injury prevention is a crucial aspect of sports, particularly in high-performance settings such as elite female football. This study aimed to develop an injury prediction model that incorporates clinical, Global-Positioning-System (GPS), and multiomics (genomics and metabolomics) data to better understand the factors associated with injury in elite female football players. Methods: We designed a prospective cohort study over 2 seasons (2019–20 and 2021–22) of noncontact injuries in 24 elite female players in the Spanish Premiership competition. We used GPS data to determine external workload, genomic data to capture genetic susceptibility, and metabolomic data to measure internal workload. Results: Forty noncontact injuries were recorded, the most frequent of which were muscle (63%) and ligament (20%) injuries. The baseline risk model included fat mass and the random effect of the player. Six genetic polymorphisms located at the DCN, ADAMTS5, ESRRB, VEGFA, and MMP1 genes were associated with injuries after adjusting for player load (P < .05). The genetic score created with these 6 variants determined groups of players with different profile risks (P = 3.1 × 10−4). Three metabolites (alanine, serotonin, and 5-hydroxy-tryptophan) correlated with injuries. The model comprising baseline variables, genetic score, and player load showed the best prediction capacity (C-index: .74). Conclusions: Our model could allow efficient, personalized interventions based on an athlete’s vulnerability. However, we emphasize the necessity for further research in female athletes with an emphasis on validation studies involving other teams and individuals. By expanding the scope of our research and incorporating diverse populations, we can bolster the generalizability and robustness of our proposed model.