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Jim McKay, Keith Davids, Sam Robertson, and Carl T. Woods

This is an exciting era for applied research in high-performance sporting environments. Specifically, there are growing calls for researchers to work with coaches to produce “real-world” case examples that offer first-hand experiences into the application of theory. While ecological dynamics has emerged as a guiding theoretical framework for learning and performance in sport, there is a caveat to its use in the field. Namely, there is a general paucity of applied research that details how expert coaches have brought life to its theoretical contentions in practice. In light of this, the current paper offers a unique insight into how a professional Rugby union organization set out to ground their preparation for competitive performance within an ecological dynamics framework. More directly, this paper details how the Queensland Reds designed and integrated a set of attacking game principles that afforded players with opportunities in practice to search, discover, and exploit their actions. While this paper offers insight specific to Rugby union, its learnings are transferrable to coaches in other sports looking to situate their practice design within an ecological dynamics framework.

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David Morley, Andrew Miller, James Rudd, Johann Issartel, Jackie Goodway, Donna O’Connor, Stephen Harvey, Paul Ogilvie, and Thomas van Rossum

Coaches can provide an appropriate environment for children to develop a range of movement skills, but there is a dearth of research exploring the creation of appropriate resources to support the coach in developing and assessing children’s Complex Movement Skills. There is also a lack of research around coaches’ perceived feasibility of the limited resources in this area. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to design and then assess the feasibility of a Movement-Oriented Games-Based Assessment (MOGBA) for children aged 8–12 years, to be used by coaches within “Made to Play” programs. Thirteen coaches from across the United States and the United Kingdom used pilot materials to assess the feasibility of MOGBA over a 9-week period. Individual, paired, and focus group interviews were structured and data were thematically analyzed using Bowen et al.’s feasibility framework. Findings suggested that MOGBA provided a welcomed and much needed enhancement to their programs, with effective use of technology-enhanced coaching. Coaching involved notions of pedagogy and assessment, with issues emerging around class size and complexity of assessment. Coaches often used MOGBA covertly and flavored the resource to the sport being delivered, and this revealed to coaches the capability of children not viewed before.

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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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Liam McCarthy, Ashley Allanson, and John Stoszkowski

As sports coaching continues to professionalize, the demand for and importance placed upon high-quality education and development programs for sports coaches is increasing. As a result, the landscape of provision is changing, and there is now a recognition of the key role that higher education institutes play in the education, development, and assessment of sports coaches. In this insights article, the authors argue that as there is a scarcity of research focused solely on assessment as a feature of coach education programs, there is something to be gained from examining how higher education institutes assess sports coaches. This represents an important contribution to the research literature, given that assessment is a feature of nearly all coach education programs and that the attainment of a specific award communicates to stakeholders (e.g., employers, athletes, parents) that a precise standard of practice has been met. As such, the authors identify how some higher education institutes are addressing the issue of assessment with sports coaches and highlight a series of assessment principles, alongside practical examples from the literature, which are intended to stimulate conversation in what the authors argue is an important area of study.

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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.

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T.N. Kirk, Justin A. Haegele, and Xihe Zhu

The purpose of this inquiry was to examine the relationship between barriers to physical activity, expectancy-value variables, and physical activity engagement among adults with visual impairments. Using a descriptive correlational approach, a sample of 214 adults with visual impairments (M age = 43.14, SD = 13.67) completed questionnaires pertaining to barriers to physical activity, expectancy-value beliefs about physical activity, and physical activity engagement. Data were analyzed via correlation and hierarchical regression. The final regression model explained 20.30% of variance in physical activity (p < .001). Intrinsic value (β = 0.26, p = .01) and expectancy beliefs (β = 0.33, p < .001) each emerged as significant predictors of physical activity engagement, which suggests that expectancy-value theory may have some utility for investigating the physical activity engagement of individuals with visual impairments. However, the lack of significant contribution of other variables such as attainment and utility values, as well as barriers factors, underscores the need for additional research in this area.

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Manuel Matzka, Christoph Zinner, Philipp Kunz, Hans-Christer Holmberg, and Billy Sperlich

Purpose: (1) To compare various physiological indicators of performance during a 5 × 1500-m incremental kayak test performed on an ergometer and on-water and (2) to analyze the relationships between these indicators and the actual competition performance of elite sprint kayakers, aiming to provide information to coaches for evaluating and planning training on-water. Methods: A total of 14 male and female German elite sprint kayakers performed an incremental test both on an ergometer and on-water. The tissue saturation index of the musculus (m.) biceps brachii, oxygen consumption, ratings of perceived exertion, and levels of blood lactate were measured and compared with actual racing times. In addition, power output was monitored during ergometer testing only. Results: Oxygen consumption during the fourth (P = .02; d = 0.32) and final (fifth; P < .001; d = 0.32) steps of incremental testing was higher on-water than on the ergometer. The tissue saturation index of the m. biceps brachii was approximately 21% higher at the end of the ergometer test (P = .002; d = 1.14). During the second (P = .01; d = 0.78), third (P = .005; d = 0.93), and fourth stages (P = .005; d = 1.02), the ratings of perceived exertion for ergometer kayaking was higher. During the final step, power output was most closely correlated to 200- (r = .88), 500- (r = .93), and 1000-m (r = .86) racing times (all Ps < .01). Conclusions: During high-intensity kayaking on an ergometer or on-water, the oxygen consumption and tissue saturation index of the m. biceps brachii differ. Furthermore, at moderate to submaximal intensities, the ratings of perceived exertion were higher for ergometer than for on-water kayaking. Finally, of all parameters assessed, the power output during ergometer kayaking exhibited the strongest correlation with actual racing performance.