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Paul Ritsche, Thomas Bernhard, Ralf Roth, Eric Lichtenstein, Martin Keller, Sabrina Zingg, Martino V. Franchi, and Oliver Faude

Purpose: Hamstring muscle architecture may be associated with sprint performance and the risk of sustaining a muscle injury, both of which increase during puberty. In this study, we investigated the m. biceps femoris long head (BFlh) cross-sectional area (ACSA), fascicle length (FL) and pennation angle (PA), and sprint performance as well as their relationship in under 13 to 15 youth soccer players. Methods: We measured 85 players in under-13 (n = 29, age = 12.5 [0.1] y, height = 155.3 [6.2] cm, weight = 43.9 [7.6] kg), under-14 (n = 25, age = 13.5 [0.3] y, height = 160.6 [7.7] cm, weight = 47.0 [6.8] kg), and under-15 (n = 31, age = 14.4 [0.3] y, height = 170.0 [7.7] cm, weight = 58.1 [8.8] kg) teams. We used ultrasound to measure BFlh ACSA, FL and PA, and sprint tests to assess 10- and 30-m sprint time, maximal velocity  (v max), and maximal acceleration (α max). We calculated Pearson r to assess the relationship between sprint ability and architectural parameters. Results: All muscle architectural parameters increased from the under-13 to the under-15 age group (BFlh ACSA = 37%, BFlh FL = 11%, BFlh PA = 8%). All sprint performance parameters improved from the under-13 to under-15 age categories (30-m time = 7%, 10-m time = 4%, v max = 9%, α max = 7%). The BFlh ACSA was correlated with 30-m sprint time (r = −.61 (95% compatibility interval [CI] [−.73, −.45]) and v max (r = .61, 95% CI [.45, .72]). A combination of BFlh ACSA and age best predicted 30-m time (R² = .47 [.33, .62]) and 10-m time (R² = .23 [.08, .38]). Conclusions: Muscle architectural as well as sprint performance parameters increase from the under-13 to under-15 age groups. Even though we found correlations for all assessed architectural parameters, BFlh ACSA was best related to the assessed sprint parameters.

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Iván Peña-González, José M. Sarabia, Alba Roldan, Agustín Manresa-Rocamora, and Manuel Moya-Ramón

In regular football, the players’ selection process involves an objective assessment based on their anthropometric and physical performance. However, available literature focused on players’ selection process in cerebral palsy (CP) football is scarce. Purpose: To describe the anthropometrical and physical performance profiles of the International Spanish CP footballers and to compare them with the remaining CP football players from the national competition. Method: A total of 75 CP football players from the Spanish CP Football National Competition (classified into the 3 existing classes: football class [FT] 1 = 38; FT2 = 29; FT3 = 8) participated in the study. Participants were divided into 2 groups: selected players (n = 15) and nonselected players (n = 60) for the national team. Anthropometrical data and physical performance (countermovement jump, 20-m sprint, modified agility T-test [MAT], and dribbling test) were collected. Results: There were significant differences in the 20-m sprint, MAT, and dribbling for the total sample and in MAT and dribbling for FT2 and FT3 classes between selected players and nonselected players (P < .05), but there were no differences for FT1. The MAT and dribbling showed a positive correlation and a high percentage of player selection prediction. Conclusion: Change-of-direction ability (ie, MAT) and dribbling skills are important when performing the selection process, as they allow the evaluation of important aspects of the game, but they may also provide the technical staff with an idea of the functionality and the physical performance of the players in each sport class.

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José María González-Ravé, Francisco Hermosilla, Fernando González-Mohíno, Arturo Casado, and David B. Pyne

A well-planned periodized approach allows swimmers to achieve peak performance at the major national and international competitions. Purpose: To identify the main characteristics of endurance training for highly trained swimmers described by the training intensity distribution (TID), volume, and periodization models. Methods: The electronic databases Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science were searched using a comprehensive list of relevant terms. Studies that investigated the effect of the periodization of training in swimming, with the training load (volume, TID) and periodization reported, were included in the systematic review. Results: A total of 3487 studies were identified, and after removal of duplicates and elimination of papers based on title and abstract screening, 17 articles remained.  A further 8 articles were excluded after full text review, leaving a final total of 9 studies in the systematic review. The evidence levels were 1b for intervention studies (n = 3) and 2b for (observational) retrospective studies (n = 6). The sprint swimmers typically followed a polarized and threshold TID, the middle-distance swimmers followed a threshold and pyramidal TID, and the long-distance swimmers primarily followed a pyramidal TID. The periodization model identified in the majority of studies selected is characterized by wave-like cycles in units like mesocycles to promote physiological adaptations and skill acquisition. Conclusions: Highly trained swimmers follow a training volume and TID based on their primary event. There is a need for further experimental studies on the effects of block and reverse periodization models on swimming performance. Although observational studies of training have limited evidence, it is unclear whether a different training/periodization approach would yield better results.

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S. Sofie Lövdal, Ruud J.R. Den Hartigh, and George Azzopardi

Purpose: Staying injury free is a major factor for success in sports. Although injuries are difficult to forecast, novel technologies and data-science applications could provide important insights. Our purpose was to use machine learning for the prediction of injuries in runners, based on detailed training logs. Methods: Prediction of injuries was evaluated on a new data set of 74 high-level middle- and long-distance runners, over a period of 7 years. Two analytic approaches were applied. First, the training load from the previous 7 days was expressed as a time series, with each day’s training being described by 10 features. These features were a combination of objective data from a global positioning system watch (eg, duration, distance), together with subjective data about the exertion and success of the training. Second, a training week was summarized by 22 aggregate features, and a time window of 3 weeks before the injury was considered. Results: A predictive system based on bagged XGBoost machine-learning models resulted in receiver operating characteristic curves with average areas under the curves of 0.724 and 0.678 for the day and week approaches, respectively. The results of the day approach especially reflect a reasonably high probability that our system makes correct injury predictions. Conclusions: Our machine-learning-based approach predicts a sizable portion of the injuries, in particular when the model is based on training-load data in the days preceding an injury. Overall, these results demonstrate the possible merits of using machine learning to predict injuries and tailor training programs for athletes.

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Stephen S. Cheung

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Lasse Ishøi, Kasper Krommes, Mathias F. Nielsen, Kasper B. Thornton, Per Hölmich, Per Aagaard, Juan J.J. Penalver, and Kristian Thorborg

Purpose: Increasing age, high quadriceps strength, and low hamstring muscle strength are associated with hamstring strain injury in soccer. The authors investigated the age-related variation in maximal hamstring and quadriceps strength in male elite soccer players from under-13 (U-13) to the senior level. Methods: A total of 125 elite soccer players were included from a Danish professional soccer club and associated youth academy (first tier; U-13, n = 19; U-14, n = 16; U-15, n = 19; U-17, n = 24; U-19, n = 17; and senior, n = 30). Maximal voluntary isometric force was assessed for the hamstrings at 15° knee joint angle and for the quadriceps at 60° knee joint angle (0° = full extension) using an external-fixated handheld dynamometer. Hamstring-to-quadriceps strength (H:Q) ratio and hamstring and quadriceps maximal voluntary isometric force levels were compared across age groups (U-13 to senior). Results: Senior players showed 18% to 26% lower H:Q ratio compared with all younger age groups (P ≤ .026). Specific H:Q ratios (mean [95% confidence interval]) were as follows: senior, 0.45 (0.42–0.48); U-19, 0.61 (0.55–0.66); U-17, 0.56 (0.51–0.60); U-15, 0.59 (0.54–0.64); U-14, 0.54 (0.50–0.59); and U-13, 0.57 (0.51–0.62). Hamstring strength increased from U-13 to U-19 with a significant drop from U-19 to the senior level (P = .048), whereas quadriceps strength increased gradually from U-13 to senior level. Conclusion: Elite senior soccer players demonstrate lower H:Q ratio compared with youth players, which is driven by lower hamstring strength at the senior level compared with the U-19 level combined with a higher quadriceps strength. This discrepancy in hamstring and quadriceps strength capacity may place senior-level players at increased risk of hamstring muscle strain injuries.

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Sebastian Kaufmann, Olaf Hoos, Aaron Beck, Fabian Fueller, Richard Latzel, and Ralph Beneke

Purpose: To evaluate the metabolic relevance of type of locomotion in anaerobic testing by analyzing and comparing the metabolic profile of the Bosco Continuous Jumping Test (CJ30) with the corresponding profile of the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT). Methods: A total of 11 well-trained, male team-sport athletes (age = 23.7 [2.2] y, height = 184.1 [2.8] cm, weight = 82.4 [6.4] kg) completed a CJ30 and WAnT each. During the WAnT, power data and revolutions per minute were recorded, and during the CJ30, jump height and jumping frequency were recorded. In addition, oxygen uptake and blood lactate concentration were assessed, and metabolic profiles were determined via the PCr-LA-O2 method. Results: In the CJ30, metabolic energy was lower (109.3 [18.0] vs 143.0 [13.1] kJ, P < .001, d = −2.302), while peak power (24.8 [4.4] vs 11.8 [0.5] W·kg−1, P < .001, d = 3.59) and mean power (20.8 [3.6] vs 9.1 [0.5] W·kg−1, P < .001, d = 4.14) were higher than in the WAnT. The metabolic profiles of the CJ30 (aerobic energy = 20.00% [4.7%], anaerobic alactic energy [W PCr] = 45.6% [4.5%], anaerobic lactic energy = 34.4% [5.2%]) and the WAnT (aerobic energy = 16.0% [3.0%], anaerobic alactic W PCr = 34.5% [5.0%], anaerobic lactic energy = 49.5% [3.3%]) are highly anaerobic. Absolute energy contribution for the CJ30 and WAnT was equal in W PCr (49.9 [11.1] vs 50.2 [11.2] kJ), but anaerobic lactic energy (37.7 [7.7] vs 69.9 [5.3] kJ) and aerobic energy (20.6 [5.7] vs 23.0 [4.0] kJ) were higher in the WAnT. Mechanical efficiency was substantially higher in the CJ30 (37.9% [4.5%] vs 15.6% [1.0%], P < .001, d = 6.86), while the fatigue index was lower (18.5% [3.8%] vs 23.2% [3.1%], P < .001, d = −1.38) than in the WAnT. Conclusions: Although the anaerobic share in both tests is similar and predominant, the CJ30 primarily taxes the W PCr system, while the WAnT more strongly relies on the glycolytic pathway. Thus, the 2 tests should not be used interchangeably, and the type of locomotion seems crucial when choosing an anaerobic test for a specific sport.

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Laura Hottenrott, Sascha Ketelhut, Christoph Schneider, Thimo Wiewelhove, and Alexander Ferrauti

Postexercise recovery is a fundamental component for continuous performance enhancement. Due to physiological and morphological changes in aging and alterations in performance capacity, athletes of different ages may recover at different rates from physical exercise. Differences in body composition, physiological function, and exercise performance between men and women may also have a direct influence on restoration processes. Purpose: This brief review examines current research to indicate possible differences in recovery processes between male and female athletes of different age groups. The paper focuses on postexercise recovery following sprint and endurance tests and tries to identify determinants that modulate possible differences in recovery between male and female subjects of different age groups. Results: The literature analysis indicates age- and sex-dependent differences in short- and long-term recovery. Short-term recovery differs among children, adults, and masters. Children have shorter lactate half-life and a faster cardiac and respiratory recovery compared to adults. Additionally, children and masters require shorter recovery periods during interval bouts than trained adults. Trained women show a slower cardiac and respiratory recovery compared to trained men. Long-term recovery is strongly determined by the extent of muscle damage. Trained adults tend to have more extensive muscle damage compared to masters and children. Conclusion: The influence of age and sex on the recovery process varies among the different functional systems and depends on the time of the recovery processes. Irrespective of age and sex, the performance capacity of the individual determines the recovery process after high-intensity and endurance exercise.