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Inge Milius, Wade D. Gilbert, Danielle Alexander and Gordon A. Bloom

There is a growing body of research on positive tactile communication and its impact on athlete performance and team dynamics. The purpose of the present study was to examine the profile and perceived impact of positive tactile communication as a coaching strategy in a high-performance team sport setting. Participants were members of a successful American collegiate women’s basketball team comprising the head coach, associate head coach, and 16 student-athletes. Methods of data collection included systematic observation and focus groups. Positive tactile communication was perceived to be an effective coaching strategy for enhancing relationships and athlete performance. To our knowledge, this is the first study to include both quantitative and qualitative data from multiple coaches on the same team, as well as athlete perceptions of coaches’ strategic use of positive tactile communication.

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Rafael E.A. Muchaxo, Sonja de Groot, Lucas H.V. van der Woude, Thomas W.J. Janssen and Carla Nooijen

The classification system for handcycling groups athletes into five hierarchical classes, based on how much their impairment affects performance. Athletes in class H5, with the least impairments, compete in a kneeling position, while athletes in classes H1 to H4 compete in a recumbent position. This study investigated the average time-trial velocity of athletes in different classes. A total of 1,807 results from 353 athletes who competed at 20 international competitions (2014–2018) were analyzed. Multilevel regression was performed to analyze differences in average velocities between adjacent pairs of classes, while correcting for gender, age, and event distance. The average velocity of adjacent classes was significantly different (p < .01), with higher classes being faster, except for H4 and H5. However, the effect size of the differences between H3 and H4 was smaller (d = 0.12). Hence, results indicated a need for research in evaluating and developing evidence-based classification in handcycling, yielding a class structure with meaningful performance differences between adjacent classes.

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Emma K. Zadow, James W. Fell, Cecilia M. Kitic, Jia Han and Sam S. X. Wu

Context: Time of day has been shown to impact athletic performance, with improved performance observed in the late afternoon–early evening. Diurnal variations in physiological factors may contribute to variations in pacing selection; however, research investigating time-of-day influence on pacing is limited. Purpose: To investigate the influence of time-of-day on pacing selection in a 4-km cycling time trial (TT). Methods: Nineteen trained male cyclists (mean [SD] age 39.0 [10.7] y, height 1.8 [0.1] m, body mass 78.0 [9.4] kg, VO2max 62.1 [8.7] mL·kg−1·min−1) completed a 4-km TT on 5 separate occasions at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. All TTs were completed in a randomized order, separated by a minimum of 2 d and maximum of 7 d. Results: No time-of-day effects were observed in pacing as demonstrated by similar power outputs over 0.5-km intervals (P = .78) or overall mean power output (333.0 [38.9], 339.8 [37.2], 335.5 [31.2], 336.7 [35.2], and 334.9 [35.7] W; P = .45) when TTs were performed at 08:30, 11:30, 14:30, 17:30, and 20:30. Preexercise tympanic temperature demonstrated a time-of-day effect (P < .001), with tympanic temperature higher at 14:30 and 17:30 than at 08:30 and 11:30. Conclusion: While a biological rhythm was present in tympanic temperature, pacing selection and performance when completing a 4-km cycling TT were not influenced by time of day. The findings suggest that well-trained cyclists can maintain a robust pacing strategy for a 4-km TT regardless of time of the day.

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Beatriz Rael, Nuria Romero-Parra, Víctor M. Alfaro-Magallanes, Laura Barba-Moreno, Rocío Cupeiro, Xanne Janse de Jonge, Ana B. Peinado and on Behalf of the IronFEMME Study Group

Purpose: The influence of female sex hormones on body fluid regulation and metabolism homeostasis has been widely studied. However, it remains unclear whether hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual cycle (MC) and with oral contraceptive (OC) use affect body composition (BC). Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate BC over the MC and OC cycle in well-trained females. Methods: A total of 52 eumenorrheic and 33 monophasic OC-taking well-trained females participated in this study. Several BC variables were measured through bioelectrical impedance analysis 3 times in the eumenorrheic group (early follicular phase, late follicular phase, and midluteal phase) and on 2 occasions in the OC group (withdrawal phase and active pill phase). Results: Mixed linear model tests reported no significant differences in the BC variables (body weight, body mass index, basal metabolism, fat mass, fat-free mass, and total body water) between the MC phases or between the OC phases (P > .05 for all comparisons). Trivial and small effect sizes were found for all BC variables when comparing the MC phases in eumenorrheic females, as well as for the OC cycle phases. Conclusions: According to the results, sex hormone fluctuations throughout the menstrual and OC cycle do not influence BC variables measured by bioelectrical impedance in well-trained females. Therefore, it seems that bioimpedance analysis can be conducted at any moment of the cycle, both for eumenorrheic women and women using OC.

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Courtney Sullivan, Thomas Kempton, Patrick Ward and Aaron J. Coutts

Purpose: To develop position-specific career performance trajectories and determine the age of peak performance of professional Australian Football players. Methods: Match performance data (Australian Football League [AFL] Player Rank) were collected for Australian Football players drafted via the AFL National Draft between 1999 and 2015 (N = 207). Players were subdivided into playing positions: forwards (n = 60; age 23 [3] y), defenders (n = 71; age 24 [4] y), midfielders (n = 58; age 24 [4] y), and ruckmen (n = 18; age 24 [3] y). Linear mixed models were fitted to the data to estimate individual career trajectories. Results: Forwards, midfielders, and defenders experienced peak match performance earlier than ruckmen (24–25 vs 27 y). Midfielders demonstrated the greatest between-subjects variability (intercept 0.580, age 0.0286) in comparison with ruckmen, who demonstrated the least variability (intercept 0.112, age 0.005) in AFL Player Rank throughout their careers. Age had the greatest influence on the career trajectory of midfielders (β [SE] = 0.226 [0.025], T = 9.10, P < .01) and the least effect on ruckmen (β [SE] = 0.114 [0.049], T = 2.30, P = .02). Conclusions: Professional Australian Football players peak in match performance between 24 and 27 years of age with age, having the greatest influence on the match performance of midfielders and the least on ruckmen.

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Tom Toolis and Kerry McGawley

Purpose: To evaluate the effects of wearing upper- and lower-body compression garments on cross-country skiing performance in elite winter biathletes. Methods: A total of 7 senior biathletes (4 men and 3 women) from the Swedish national team performed 2 exercise trials in a randomized and counterbalanced order, wearing either commercially available upper- and lower-body compression garments (COMP) or a standard winter-biathlon racing suit (CON). In each trial, the athletes roller-skied on a customized treadmill, completing a time trial simulating the skiing duration of a biathlon sprint race, followed by a time-to-exhaustion test designed to elicit exhaustion within ∼60 to 90 seconds. Heart rate, blood lactate concentration, rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, and thermal comfort were monitored throughout each trial, while muscle soreness was measured up to 48 hours after each trial. Results: Pressure exerted by the clothing was significantly higher at all anatomical sites for COMP compared with CON (P ≤ .002). Wearing COMP led to small positive effects on time-trial (d = 0.31) and time-to-exhaustion test (d = 0.31) performances compared with CON, but these differences were not statistically significant (P > .05). No significant differences were found for any physiological (heart rate or blood lactate concentration) or subjective (rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, thermal comfort, or muscle soreness) responses between COMP and CON (P > .05). Conclusion: Wearing COMP during maximal cross-country skiing may have small but worthwhile beneficial effects on performance for some individuals. Due to individual variation, athletes are advised to test COMP prior to competition.

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Fernando Pareja-Blanco, Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal, Beatriz Bachero-Mena, Ricardo Mora-Custodio, José Antonio Asián-Clemente, Irineu Loturco and David Rodríguez-Rosell

Purpose: This study aimed to compare the effects of unresisted versus heavy sled sprint training (0% vs 40% body mass [BM]) on sprint performance in women. Moreover, the effects of the aforementioned loads on resisted sprint and jump performance were analyzed. Methods: Twenty-eight physically active women were randomly allocated into 2 groups: unloaded sprint training group (G0%, n = 14), and resisted sprint training with 40% BM group (G40%, n = 14). Pretraining and posttraining assessments included countermovement jump, unloaded 30-m sprint, and 20-m sprint with 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM. Times to cover 0 to 10 (T10), 0 to 20 (T20), 0 to 30 (T30), 10 to 20 (T10–20), 20 to 30 (T20–30), and 10 to 30 m (T10–30) were recorded. Both groups were trained once a week for 8 weeks and completed the same training program, but with different loads (0% vs 40% BM). Results: No significant time × group interactions were observed. For unloaded sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .027) decreases only in T10–20, while G40% attained significant decreases in T30 (P = .021), T10–30 (P = .015), and T20–30 (P = .003). Regarding resisted sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .010) improvements only for the 20% BM condition. The G40% group attained significant improvements in all loading conditions (20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM). Both groups showed significant improvements (P < .001) in countermovement jump height. Conclusions: In physically active women, no significant differences in sprint and countermovement jump performance were detected after 8 weeks of resisted and unresisted sprint training programs. Future studies should, therefore, be devoted to how sprint training should be individualized to maximize performance.