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Can We Just Play? Internal Validity of Assessing Physiological State With a Semistandardized Kicking Drill in Professional Australian Football

Adriano Arguedas-Soley, Tzlil Shushan, Andrew Murphy, Nicholas Poulos, Ric Lovell, and Dean Norris

Purpose: To examine associations between exercise heart rate (HRex) during a continuous-fixed submaximal fitness test (CF-SMFT) and an intermittent-variable protocol (semistandardized kicking drill [SSD]) in Australian Football athletes, controlling for external intensities, within-session scheduling, and environmental conditions. Methods: Forty-four professional male Australian Football athletes (22.8 [8.0] y) were monitored over 10 sessions involving a 3-minute CF-SMFT (12 km·h−1) as the first activity and a SSD administered 35.7 (8.0) minutes after the CF-SMFT. Initial heart rate and HRex were collected, with external intensities measured as average velocity (in meters per minute) and average acceleration–deceleration (in meters per second squared). Environmental conditions were sampled. A penalized hierarchical linear mixed model was tuned for a Bayesian information criterion minima using a 10-fold cross-validation, with out-of-sample prediction accuracy assessed via root-mean-squared error. Results: SSD average acceleration–deceleration, initial heart rate, temperature, and ground hardness were significant moderators in the tuned model. When model covariates were held constant, a 1%-point change in SSD HRex associated with a 0.4%-point change in CF-SMFT HRex (95% CI, 0.3–0.5). The tuned model predicted CF-SMFT HRex with an average root-mean-squared error of 2.64 (0.57) over the 10-fold cross-validation, with 74% and 86% of out-of-sample predictions falling within 2.7%-points and 3.7%-points, respectively, from observed values, representing the lower and upper limits for detecting meaningful changes in HRex according to the documented typical error. Conclusions: Our findings support the use of an SSD to monitor physiological state in Australian Football athletes, despite varied scheduling within session. Model predictions of CF-SMFT HRex from SSD HRex closely aligned with observed values, considering measurement imprecision.

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Introducing IJSPP’s First Reviewer Incentive: A Submission-Fee Waiver

Dionne A. Noordhof and Øyvind Sandbakk

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Volume 19 (2024): Issue 7 (Jul 2024)

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Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Essential Papers in Sports and Exercise Physiology

Jos J. de Koning and Carl Foster

Purpose: The purpose of this survey was to create a list of essential historical and contemporary readings for undergraduate and graduate students in the field of exercise physiology. Methods: Fifty-two exercise physiologists/sport scientists served as referees, and each nominated ∼25 papers for inclusion in the list. In total, 396 papers were nominated by the referees. This list was then sent back to the referees, with the instructions to nominate the “100 essential papers in sports and exercise physiology.” Results: The referees cast 4722 votes. The 100 papers with the highest number of votes received 51% (2406) of the total number of votes. A total of 37 papers in the list of “100 essential papers” were published >50 years ago, and 63 papers were published since 1973. Conclusions: This list of essential studies will provide a perspective on contemporary studies, the “giant’s shoulders” to enable young scholars to “see further” or to understand where they have “come from.” This compilation is also meant to impress on students that, given the (lack of) technology available in the past, some of the early science required enormous intuitive leaps on the part of historical scientists.

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“Falling Behind,” “Letting Go,” and Being “Outsprinted” as Distinct Features of Pacing in Distance Running

Carl Foster, Renato Barroso, Daniel Bok, Daniel Boullosa, Arturo Casado Alda, Cristina Cortis, Andrea Fusco, Brian Hanley, Philip Skiba, and Jos J. de Koning

Introduction: In distance running, pacing is characterized by changes in speed, leading to runners dropping off the leader’s pace until a few remain to contest victory with a final sprint. Pacing behavior has been well studied over the last 30 years, but much remains unknown. It might be related to finishing position, finishing time, and dependent on critical speed (CS), a surrogate of physiologic capacity. We hypothesized a relationship between CS and the distance at which runners “fell behind” and “let go” from the leader or were “outsprinted” as contributors to performance. Methods: 100-m split times were obtained for athletes in the men’s 10,000-m at the 2008 Olympics (N = 35). Split times were individually compared with the winner at the point of “falling behind” (successive split times progressively slower than the winner), “letting go” (large increase in time for distance compared with winner), or “outsprinted” (falling behind despite active acceleration) despite being with the leader with 400 m remaining. Results: Race times ranged between 26:55 and 29:23 (world record = 26:17). There were 3 groups who fell behind at ∼1000 (n = 11), ∼6000 (n = 16), and ∼9000 m (n = 2); let go at ∼4000 (n = 10), ∼7000 (n = 14), and ∼9500 m (n = 5); or were outkicked (n = 6). There was a moderate correlation between CS and finishing position (r = .82), individual mean pace (r = .79), “fell behind” distance (r = .77), and “let go” distance (r = .79). D′ balance was correlated with performance in the last 400 m (r = .87). Conclusions: Athletes displayed distinct patterns of falling behind and letting go. CS serves as a moderate predictor of performance and final placing. Final placing during the sprint is related to preservation of D′ balance.

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Football Movement Profile–Based Creatine-Kinase Prediction Performs Similarly to Global Positioning System–Derived Machine Learning Models in National-Team Soccer Players

Gabor Schuth, György Szigeti, Gergely Dobreff, Alija Pašić, Tim Gabbett, Adam Szilas, and Gabor Pavlik

Purpose: The relationship between external load and creatine-kinase (CK) response at the team/position or individual level using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) has been studied. This study aimed to compare GPS-derived and Football Movement Profile (FMP) –derived CK-prediction models for national-team soccer players. The second aim was to compare the performance of general and individualized CK prediction models. Methods: Four hundred forty-four national-team soccer players (under 15 [U15] to senior) were monitored during training sessions and matches using GPS. CK was measured every morning from whole blood. The players had 19.3 (18.1) individual GPS-CK pairs, resulting in a total of 8570 data points. Machine learning models were built using (1) GPS-derived or (2) FMP-based parameters or (3) the combination of the 2 to predict the following days’ CK value. The performance of general and individual-specific prediction models was compared. The performance of the models was described by R 2 and the root-mean-square error (RMSE, in units per liter for CK values). Results: The FMP model (R 2 = .60, RMSE = 144.6 U/L) performed similarly to the GPS-based model (R 2 = .62, RMSE = 141.2 U/L) and the combination of the 2 (R 2 = .62, RMSE = 140.3 U/L). The prediction power of the general model was better on average (R 2 = .57 vs R 2 = .37) and for 73% of the players than the individualized model. Conclusions: The results suggest that FMP-based CK-prediction models perform similarly to those based on GPS-derived metrics. General machine learning models’ prediction power was higher than those of the individual-specific models. These findings can be used to monitor postmatch recovery strategies and to optimize weekly training periodization.

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Hamstring Injuries, From the Clinic to the Field: A Narrative Review Discussing Exercise Transfer

Jordi Vicens-Bordas, Ali Parvaneh Sarand, Marco Beato, and Robert Buhmann

Purpose: The optimal approach to hamstring training is heavily debated. Eccentric exercises reduce injury risk; however, it is argued that these exercises transfer poorly to improved hamstring function during sprinting. Some argue that other exercises, such as isometric exercises, result in better transfer to running gait and should be used when training to improve performance and reduce injury risk. Given the performance requirements of the hamstrings during the terminal swing phase, where they are exposed to high strain, exercises should aim to improve the torque production during this phase. This should improve the hamstrings’ ability to resist overlengthening consequently, improving performance and limiting strain injury. Most hamstring training studies fail to assess running kinematics postintervention. Of the limited evidence available, only eccentric exercises demonstrate changes in swing-phase kinematics following training. Studies of other exercise modalities investigate effects on markers of performance and injury risk but do not investigate changes in running kinematics. Conclusions: Despite being inconsistent with principles of transfer, current evidence suggests that eccentric exercises result in transfer to swing-phase kinematics. Other exercise modalities may be effective, but the effect of these exercises on running kinematics is unknown.

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How Can We Make Research More Relevant for Sport Practice?

Thomas Haugen

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Intraday Variation of Ankle Dorsiflexion in Short-Track Speed Skaters

Jules Claudel, Émilie Turner, and Julien Clément

Purpose: Optimal ankle dorsiflexion range of motion plays a vital role in attaining the essential crouched posture necessary for excelling in speed skating. The purpose of this study was to determine how the ankle dorsiflexion angle evolves throughout a day of training and to identify the factors that influence this angle. Methods: Thirty short-track speed skaters, from 2 teams, participated in this study. The maximum ankle dorsiflexion angle was obtained in a lunge position facing a wall, using a digital inclinometer. All measures were obtained 3 times per side, 6 times per day, on 2 training days separated by at least a week. We conducted multiple tests to study the impact of repetition, day, side, team level, sex, and moment on the ankle dorsiflexion angle. Results: The 3 times repeated measures and the 2 days of training did not have a significant influence on the results. There was a statistically significant difference between the first time point of the day and the 5 other time points for both ankles. Moreover, the influence of sex and team level was not statistically significant. Conclusions: The results indicate that there are significant changes in ankle dorsiflexion range of motion but only after the first warm-up of the day. Such findings could enable team staff to enhance athletes’ precompetition preparation and tailor ankle mobility training regimens more effectively.

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Defining Worst-Case-Scenario Thresholds in Soccer: Intensity Versus Volume

Mauro Mandorino and Mathieu Lacome

Purpose: This study aimed to enhance the understanding of soccer match peak demands by describing worst-case scenario (WCS) and time spent above 80% and 90% of the WCS for total distance (TD) and high-speed running (HSR). The investigation considered playing level (first team vs under-19 [U19] team) and playing position (center backs, fullbacks, midfielders, and forwards) to assess how WCS and the time spent above specific thresholds vary across different populations. Methods: Data from 31 players in a professional Italian soccer club were collected during the 2022–23 season. Microtechnology devices tracked physical activity during matches. Players were categorized by position, and WCS was determined using rolling averages over a 1-minute period. Time spent above 80% and 90% of WCS for TD and HSR was calculated. Results: The U19 team exhibited higher HSR WCS compared with the first team (∼63 m·min−1 vs ∼56 m·min−1). Midfielders recorded the highest TD WCS (∼208 m·min−1), and forwards exhibited the highest HSR WCS (∼70 m·min−1). The first team spent significantly more time above 80% (∼6 min) and 90% (∼1 min) of TD WCS. Midfielders spent significantly more time above the 80% (∼7 min) of TD WCS, while forwards above the 80% (∼2 min) of HSR WCS. Conclusions: The study emphasizes that WCS used alone may not sufficiently capture real match intensity. Considering the time spent above specific thresholds provides additional insights (ie, between-levels differences and position). Practitioners should consider both WCS and time spent above thresholds for individualized training prescriptions, reflecting differences in playing roles.