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Effect of Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Maximal Intensity Exercise in Trained Young Male Individuals: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

George D. Georgiou, Kyriaki Antoniou, Stephanie Antoniou, Eleni Anna Michelekaki, Reza Zare, Ali Ali Redha, Konstantinos Prokopidis, Efstathios Christodoulides, and Tom Clifford

Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid that is commonly used to improve exercise performance. It could influence the buffering of hydrogen ions produced during intense exercise and delay fatigue, providing a substrate for increased synthesis of intramuscular carnosine. This systematic review evaluates the effects of beta-alanine supplementation on maximal intensity exercise in trained, young, male individuals. Six databases were searched on August 10, 2023, to identify randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials investigating the effect of chronic beta-alanine supplementation in trained male individuals with an age range of 18–40 years. Studies evaluating exercise performance through maximal or supramaximal intensity efforts falling within the 0.5–10 min duration were included. A total of 18 individual studies were analyzed, employing 18 exercise test protocols and 15 outcome measures in 331 participants. A significant (p = .01) result was observed with an overall effect size of 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI] [0.09, 0.69]), in favor of beta-alanine supplementation versus placebo. Results indicate significant effects at 4 weeks of supplementation, effect size 0.34 (95% CI [0.02, 0.67], p = .04); 4–10 min of maximal effort, effect size 0.55 (95% CI [0.07, 1.04], p = .03); and a high beta-alanine dosage of 5.6–6.4 g per day, effect size 0.35 (95% CI [0.09, 0.62], p = .009). The results provide insights into which exercise modality will benefit the most, and which dosage protocols and durations stand to provide the greatest ergogenic effects. This may be used to inform further research, and professional or recreational training design, and optimization of supplementation strategies.

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How to Equalize High- and Low-Intensity Endurance Exercise Dose

Pekka Matomäki, Olli-Pekka Nuuttila, Olli J. Heinonen, Heikki Kyröläinen, and Ari Nummela

Purpose: Without appropriate standardization of exercise doses, comparing high- (HI) and low-intensity (LI) training outcomes might become a matter of speculation. In athletic preparation, proper quantification ensures an optimized stress-to-recovery ratio. This review aims to compare HI and LI doses by estimating theoretically the conversion ratio, 1:x, between HI and LI: How many minutes, x, of LI are equivalent to 1 minute of HI using various quantification methods? A scrutinized analysis on how the dose increases in relation to duration and intensity was also made. Analysis: An estimation was conducted across 4 categories encompassing 10 different approaches: (1) “arbitrary” methods, (2) physiological and perceptual measurements during exercise, (3) postexercise measurements, and comparison to (4a) acute and (4b) chronic intensity-related maximum dose. The first 2 categories provide the most conservative estimation for the HI:LI ratio (1:1.5–1:10), and the third, slightly higher (1:4–1:11). The category (4a) provides the highest estimation (1:52+) and (4b) suggests 1:10 to 1:20. The exercise dose in the majority of the approaches increase linearly in relation to duration and exponentially in relation to intensity. Conclusions: As dose estimations provide divergent evaluations of the HI:LI ratio, the choice of metric will have a large impact on the research designs, results, and interpretations. Therefore, researchers should familiarize themselves with the foundations and weaknesses of their metrics and justify their choice. Last, the linear relationship between duration and exercise dose is in many cases assumed rather than thoroughly tested, and its use should be subjected to closer scrutiny.

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Athletic Performance Decline Over the Life Span: Cross-Sectional and Longitudinal Analyses of Elite and Masters Track-and-Field Data

Brandon Pfeifer, W. Bradley Nelson, and Robert D. Hyldahl

Purpose : Loss of muscle power has a significant impact on mobility in geriatric populations, so this study sought to determine the extent and time course of performance decline in power-centric events throughout the life span via retrospective analyses of masters and elite track-and-field data. Methods : Four track-and-field events were selected based on maximal power output: the 100-m dash, long jump, high jump, and triple jump. Elite and masters athlete data were gathered from the World Masters Outdoor Championships and the International Amateur Athletic Federation World Athletics Championships (17,945 individual results). Data were analyzed by fitting individual and group results to quadratic and linear models. Results : Average age of peak performance in all events was 27.8 (0.8) years for men and 28.3 (0.8) years for women. Athlete performance decline best matched a linear model for the 5 years following peak performance (mean R 2  = .68 [.20]) and for ages 35–60, but best matched a quadratic model for ages 60–90 and 35–90 (mean R 2  = .75 [.12]). The average rate of decline for the masters data ages 35–60 ranged from 0.55% per year for men’s 100-m dash to 1.04% per year for women’s long jump. A significant age × sex interaction existed between men and women, with men declining faster throughout life in all events except the 100-m dash. Conclusions : Performance decline begins in the early 30s and is linear through middle age. This pattern of decline provides a basis for further research on power-decline pathophysiology and preventive measures starting in the 30s.

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A Change-Point Method to Detect Meaningful Change in Return-to-Sport Progression in Athletes

Kate K. Yung, Ben Teune, Clare L. Ardern, Fabio R. Serpiello, and Sam Robertson

Purpose: To explore how the change-point method can be used to analyze complex longitudinal data and detect when meaningful changes (change points) have occurred during rehabilitation. Method: This design is a prospective single-case observational study of a football player in a professional club who sustained an acute lower-limb muscle injury during high-speed running in training. The rehabilitation program was entirely completed in the football club under the supervision of the club’s medical team. Four wellness metrics and 5 running-performance metrics were collected before the injury and until the player returned to play. Results: Data were collected over 130 days. In the univariate analysis, the change points for stress, sleep, mood, and soreness were located on days 30, 47, 50, and 50, respectively. The change points for total distance, acceleration, maximum speed, deceleration, and high-speed running were located on days 32, 34, 37, 41, and 41, respectively. The multivariate analysis resulted in a single change point for the wellness metrics and running-performance metrics, on days 50 and 67, respectively. Conclusions: The univariate approach provided information regarding the sequence and time point of the change points. The multivariate approach provided a common change point for multiple metrics, information that would benefit clinicians to have a broad overview of the changes in the rehabilitation process. Clinicians may consider the change-point method to integrate and visualize data from multiple sources to evaluate athletes’ progression along the return-to-sport continuum.

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Coaches’ Provision of Structure for Players’ Competence Development: Perspectives of Professional Soccer Coaches and Players in Norway

Kevin Nicol and Justine B. Allen

Developing athletes’ actual and perceived competence is critical to enhancing performance and considered central to coaching. According to self-determination theory, the provision of competence-supportive structure is critical for psychological need satisfaction, optimal motivation, and well-being. Coaches use of structure such as providing clear expectations, instructional guidance, and feedback are well-established coaching practices; however, little is known about how, and to what extent, these types of structure support or thwart players’ perceptions of competence, particularly in high-performance contexts. Five head coaches working in the highest soccer league in Norway, and three players from each of the participating head coach’s squads (N = 15) participated in semistructured interviews. Through abductive analysis, we generated five themes: structure to promote competence; coaching for competence development; relatedness support as a foundation for effective structure; freedom within structure is useful; and shared ownership of, and with, structure. The findings provide evidence that professional soccer coaches and players in this study desire and deliver structure. It is provided in an autonomy-supportive way and built on a relatedness supportive foundation. This study contributes new insight into the importance of competence-supportive structure in coaching, which coaches and those supporting the development of coaches may find useful.

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Coaching Psychology in Athletic Bilbao: The Story From Its Beginnings

John O’Neill, Mark J. Campbell, and Ian Sherwin

Athletic Bilbao, also known by its more correct name of Athletic Club, is a professional football club based in Bilbao, in the Basque Country of Spain. Since 1912, it has adhered to its policy of only allowing players from the Basque Country to play for them. This system is known as cantera, from the word for quarry, meaning treating players from the surrounding area as a valuable resource to be extracted and moulded. Despite the self-imposed limitation of this unwritten rule, Athletic Bilbao is one of only three clubs to have never been relegated from LaLiga, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona. Here, we look at how psychology was developed in the club toward developing home-grown players, which became known as La Mirada (“The Gaze” in Spanish). A key perspective of how La Mirada developed over time was to address coaches’ mindsets before those of the players, especially because coaches often felt that their learning was going to be an upward trajectory by relying on what had given them results in other clubs. This Practical Advance paper explores this distinctive journey of psychology with examples from what was themed the lights and shadows of coaches’ and players’ learning development in Athletic Bilbao.

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Exploring Recess Policies and Practices in Middle Schools: A School Leadership Perspective

Edward B. Olsen, James D. Wyant, Emi Tsuda, Kyoung Kim, Mia Weiser, Colin Embry, Joseph Di lusto, John Koch, and Mohamed Omar

Purpose: This study explored school administrators’ perceptions and experiences in planning and implementing recess policies and practices in New Jersey middle schools. Method: A total of 168 surveys and 19 semistructured interviews were conducted on school administrators. The survey data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Semistructured interviews were analyzed using a phronetic iterative approach. Results: Phase 1 results showed that the participants supported and could offer recess. Major barriers included time demands and scheduling conflicts. The results of Phase 2 represented four themes: (a) the importance and benefits of middle school recess, (b) recess operation, (c) issues associated with middle school recess, and (d) resources to improve middle school recess. Conclusions: Professional development, stakeholder input, recess committees, recess plans and schedules, fundraisers/budgets, and laws are critical for planning and implementing recess policies and practices at the middle school level.

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Predicting Future Athletic Performance in Young Female Road Cyclists Based on Aerobic Fitness and Hematological Variables

Dariusz Sitkowski, Jadwiga Malczewska-Lenczowska, Ryszard Zdanowicz, Michał Starczewski, Andrzej Pokrywka, Piotr Żmijewski, and Raphael Faiss

Purpose: This study aimed to determine whether the initial levels of aerobic fitness and hematological variables in young female road cyclists are related to their athletic performance development during their careers. Methods: Results of graded exercise tests on a cycle ergometer and total hemoglobin mass (tHb-mass) measurements were analyzed in 34 female road cyclists (age 18.6 [1.9] y). Among them, 2 groups were distinguished based on their competitive performance (Union Cycliste Internationale world ranking) over the following 8 years. Areas under the curve in receiver-operating-characteristic curves were calculated as indicators of elite-performance prediction. Results: Initial graded exercise test variables (peak power, peak oxygen uptake, and power at 4 mmol/L blood lactate) were not significantly different in elite (n = 13) versus nonelite (n = 21) riders. In contrast, elite riders had higher tHb-mass expressed either in absolute measures (664 [75] vs 596 [59] g, P = .006) or normalized to body mass (11.2 [0.8] vs 10.3 [0.7] g/kg, P = .001) and fat-free mass (14.4 [0.9] vs 13.1 [0.9] g/kg, P < .001). Absolute and relative erythrocyte volumes were significantly higher in elite subjects (P ranged from < .001 to .006). Of all the variables analyzed, the relative tHb-mass had the highest predictive ability to reach the elite level (area under the curve ranged from .82 to .85). Conclusion: Measurement of tHb-mass can be a helpful tool in talent detection to identify young female road cyclists with the potential to reach the elite level in the future.

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Retraction. Pharmacokinetic Profile of Caffeine and Its Two Main Metabolites in Dried Blood Spots After Five Different Oral Caffeine Administration Forms—A Randomized Crossover Study

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Test–Retest Reliability and Usefulness of a Foot–Ankle Rebound-Jump Test for Measuring Foot–Ankle Reactive Strength in Athletes

Romain Tourillon, François Fourchet, Pascal Edouard, and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose: This study investigated the test–retest reliability and usefulness of the foot–ankle rebound-jump test (FARJT) for measuring foot–ankle reactive strength metrics in athletes. Methods: Thirty-six highly trained, healthy athletes (5 female; 21.5 [3.9] y; 1.80 [0.10] m; 72.7 [10.4] kg) performed 8 repeated bilateral vertical foot–ankle rebound jumps on 2 testing days. Testing days were 1 week apart, and these sessions were preceded by a familiarization session. Reactive strength metrics were calculated by dividing jump height (in meters) by contact time (in seconds) for the reactive strength index (RSI) and flight time (in seconds) by contact time (in seconds) for the reactive strength ratio (RSR). The mean of 4 jumps (excluding the first and last 2 jumps) on each testing session were considered for RSI and RSR reliability and usefulness analysis. Results: We found a high reliability of the FARJT for RSI (intraclass correlation coefficient [ICC] > .90 and coefficient of variation [CV] = 12%) and RSR (ICC ≥ .90 and CV = 8%). Regarding their usefulness, both RSI and RSR were rated as “marginal” in detecting the smallest worthwhile change (typical error > smallest worthwhile change) and “good” in detecting a moderate change in performance. Conclusions: The results showed that a FARJT is a highly reliable test for measuring foot–ankle reactive strength in athletes and useful for quantifying changes, for example, following a training block. However, its usefulness as an accurate daily or weekly monitoring tool in practice is questionable.