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Gennaro Boccia, Marco Cardinale, and Paolo Riccardo Brustio

Purpose: This study investigated (1) the transition rate of elite world-class throwers, (2) the age of peak performance in either elite junior and/or elite senior athletes, and (3) if relative age effect (RAE) influences the chance of being considered elite in junior and/or senior category. Methods: The career performance trajectories of 5108 throwers (49.9% females) were extracted from the World Athletics database. The authors identified throwers who had reached the elite level (operationally defined as the World all-time top 50 ranked for each age category) in either junior and/or senior category and calculated the junior-to-senior transition rate. The age of peak performance and the RAE were also investigated. Results: The transition rate at 16 and 18 years of age was 6% and 12% in males and 16% and 24% in females, respectively. Furthermore, elite senior throwers reached their personal best later in life than elite junior throwers. The athletes of both genders considered elite in the junior category showed a large RAE. Interestingly, male athletes who reached the elite level in senior category also showed appreciable RAE. Conclusions: Only a few of the athletes who reach the top 50 in the world at 16 or 18 years of age manage to become elite senior athletes, underlining that success at the beginning of an athletic career does not predict success in the athlete’s senior career. Moreover, data suggest that being relatively older may confer a benefit across the whole career of male throwers.

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Øyvind Sandbakk, Thomas Haugen, and Gertjan Ettema

Purpose: To provide novel insight regarding the influence of exercise modality on training load management by (1) providing a theoretical framework for the impact of physiological and biomechanical mechanisms associated with different exercise modalities on training load management in endurance exercise and (2) comparing effort-matched low-intensity training sessions performed by top-level athletes in endurance sports with similar energy demands. Practical Applications and Conclusions: The ability to perform endurance training with manageable muscular loads and low injury risks in different exercise modalities is influenced both by mechanical factors and by muscular state and coordination, which interrelate in optimizing power production while reducing friction and/or drag. Consequently, the choice of exercise modality in endurance training influences effort beyond commonly used external and internal load measurements and should be considered alongside duration, frequency, and intensity when managing training load. By comparing effort-matched low- to moderate-intensity sessions performed by top-level athletes in endurance sports, this study exemplifies how endurance exercise with varying modalities leads to different tolerable volumes. For example, the weight-bearing exercise and high-impact forces in long-distance running put high loads on muscles and tendons, leading to relatively low training volume tolerance. In speed skating, the flexed knee and hip position required for effective speed skating leads to occlusion of thighs and low volume tolerance. In contrast, the non-weight-bearing, low-contraction exercises in cycling or swimming allow for large volumes in the specific exercise modalities. Overall, these differences have major implications on training load management in sports.

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Ali Brian, Angela Starrett, Adam Pennell, Pamela Haibach-Beach, Emily Gilbert, Alexandra Stribing, Sally Taunton Miedema, and Lauren Lieberman

Youth with visual impairments are more likely to be overweight than peers without visual impairments and often struggle with their locomotor skills. Locomotor development can combat unhealthy body weight statuses by supporting physical activity behaviors. There are no longitudinal investigations concerning the locomotor skill and body mass index (BMI) developmental trajectories of youth with visual impairments. The purpose of this study was to examine the 3-year developmental trajectory of the locomotor skills and BMI of youth with visual impairments including differential effects of self-reported gender and degree of vision. Participants (N = 34, M age = 11.75 years, 47% female) showed severely delayed and arrested locomotor development with increases in BMI across 3 years regardless of self-reported gender or degree of vision. Participants failed to breech a proficiency barrier of motor competence to combat against increases in BMI across time. Additional longitudinal inquiries are needed.

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Ryota Ashizawa, Kazuma Yamashita, Koki Take, Kengo Okawara, Eri Mochizuki, Asuka Sakamoto, and Yoshinobu Yoshimoto

The purpose of this single-masked randomized clinical trial was to examine whether nonleisure-time physical activity guidance (NLTPAG) improves physical activity levels in patients after minor ischemic stroke. Patients who had been hospitalized for minor ischemic stroke in an acute care hospital (National Health Institute Stroke Scale ≤ 5) were randomized to either an NLTPAG group (n = 17) or a leisure-time physical activity guidance group (n = 16). NLTPAG focused on reducing sedentary behavior and increasing the frequency of walking for shopping and household activities to improve physical activity levels in daily life. Physical activity levels significantly improved only in participants in the NLTPAG group (initial assessment: metabolic equivalents of task = 12.6; final assessment: metabolic equivalents of task = 14.8; p = .035, r = .51). These results suggest that NLTPAG may be effective for improving physical activity levels in patients after minor ischemic stroke.

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Joseph O.C. Coyne, Aaron J. Coutts, Robert U. Newton, and G. Gregory Haff

Purpose: To investigate the relationships between internal and external training load (TL) metrics with elite international women’s basketball performance. Methods: Sessional ratings of perceived exertion, PlayerLoad/minute, and training duration were collected from 13 elite international-level female basketball athletes (age 29.0 [3.7] y, stature 186.0 [9.8] cm, body mass 77.9 [11.6] kg) during the 18 weeks prior to the International Basketball Federation Olympic qualifying event for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Training stress balance, differential load, and the training efficiency index were calculated with 3 different smoothing methods. These TL metrics and their change in the last 21 days prior to competition were examined for their relationship to competition performance as coach ratings of performance. Results: For a number of TL variables, there were consistent significant small to moderate correlations with performance and significant small to large differences between successful and unsuccessful performances. However, these differences were only evident for external TL when using exponentially weighted moving averages to calculate TL. The variable that seemed most sensitive to performance was the change in training efficiency index in the last 21 days prior to competition (performance r = .47–.56, P < .001 and difference between successful and unsuccessful performance P < .001, f2 = 0.305–0.431). Conclusions: Internal and external TL variables were correlated with performance and distinguished between successful and unsuccessful performances among the same players during international women’s basketball games. Manipulating TL in the last 3 weeks prior to competition may be worthwhile for basketball players’ performance, especially in internal TL.

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Anis Aloulou, Francois Duforez, Damien Léger, Quentin De Larochelambert, and Mathieu Nedelec

Purpose: To evaluate the effects of sporting activities, training loads, and athletes’ characteristics on sleep among high-level adolescent athletes, in a controlled training and academic environment. Methods: A total of 128 high-level adolescent athletes (age = 15.2 [2.0] y), across 9 different sports, completed common sleep questionnaires and were monitored daily (7.3 [2.7] d) during a typical in-season training period. Sleep was analyzed using actigraphy and sleep diaries, whereas training load was evaluated using the session rating of perceived exertion, and muscle soreness and general fatigue were reported with the aid of visual analog scales. Separate linear mixed-effects models were fitted, including the athlete as a random effect and the following variables as fixed effects: the sport practiced (categorical predictor), daily training load, age, and sex. Different models were used to compare sleep variables among sports and to assess the influence of training load, age, and sex. Results: The mean total sleep time was 7.1 (0.7) hours. Swimmers presented increased sleep fragmentation, training loads, perceived muscle soreness, and general fatigue compared with athletes who engaged in other sports. Independent of any sport-specific effects, a higher daily training load induced an earlier bedtime and reduced total sleep time and perceived sleep quality, with higher sleep fragmentation. Moreover, female athletes experienced increased total sleep time and worse sleep quality in response to stress compared with those in males. Conclusion: In a controlled training and academic environment, high-level adolescent athletes did not achieve the recommended sleep duration. Impaired sleep quality and quantity could be partially explained by increased training loads.

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Xiang Yao, Christopher Curtis, Anthony Turner, Chris Bishop, Alex Austerberry, and Shyam Chavda

Rugby union (RU) is a field-based team sport with a large number of high-intensity actions such as sprinting, change of direction, tackling, scrummaging, rucking, and mauling. Competitive success in female RU has previously been related to anthropometric and physical characteristics, and with the recent introduction of professionalism in female rugby, characterizing such physical attributes may provide insight into selection and training processes. Purpose: To identify anthropometric and physical characteristics of competitive female RU players and differences between playing positions. Methods: Twenty-two players were recruited from the top tier of female RU in the United Kingdom during the 2018–2019 Premiership season. Players were split into forwards and backs and underwent body composition testing via dual-X-ray absorptiometry and physical characteristic tests (10- and 20-m speed, 1-repetition-maximum bench press and squat, countermovement jump, drop jump, isometric midthigh pull, and 1200-m shuttle). Results: Moderate to large significant differences between playing positions in both anthropometric and physical characteristics were found (P < .01). Forwards displayed greater body mass (P = .03), fat mass (P = .01), and absolute upper-body strength (P = .03), whereas backs demonstrated superior countermovement jump height (P = .01), drop jump height (P = .01), greater reactive strength (P = .03), and speed (P = .03). Conclusion: These findings provide practitioners with a greater understanding of anthropometric and physical characteristics of professional female RU players.