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Thomas Haugen, Will Hopkins, Felix Breitschädel, Gøran Paulsen, and Paul Solberg

Purpose: To determine if generic off-ice physical fitness tests can provide useful predictions of ice hockey players’ match performance. Methods: Approximately 40 to 60 defenders and 70 to 100 forwards from the Norwegian male upper ice hockey league were tested for strength (1-repetition maximum in squat and bench press), power (40-m sprint and countermovement jump), and endurance (hanging sit-ups, chins, and 3000-m run) annually at the end of every preseason period between 2008 and 2017. Measures of match performance were each player’s season mean counts per match of assists, points, goals, penalty minutes, and plus-minus score. Results: Overall, match performance measures displayed trivial to small correlations with the fitness tests. More specifically, points per game had at most small correlations with measures of strength (range, approximately −0.2 to 0.3), speed (approximately −0.2 to 0.3), and endurance (approximately −0.1 to 0.3). After adjustments for age that showed moderate to large correlations with player match performance, multiple-regression analyses of each test measure still provided some predictability among players of the same age. However, players selected for the national team had substantially better mean scores for most tests and match performance measures than those not selected, with a moderate to large difference for age, 1-repetition maximum squat, and 1-repetition maximum bench press. Conclusions: Fitness tests had only marginal utility for predicting match performance in Norwegian hockey players, but those selected into the national team had better general fitness.

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Erica H. Gavel, Heather M. Logan-Sprenger, Joshua Good, Ira Jacobs, and Scott G. Thomas

Purpose: The effects of menthol (MEN) mouth rinse (MR) on performance, physiological, and perceptual variables in female cyclists during a 30-km independent time trial (ITT) were tested. Methods: The participants (n = 9) cycled for 30 km in hot conditions (30°C [0.6°C], 70% [1%] relative humidity, 12 [1] km/h wind speed) on 2 test occasions: with a placebo MR and with MEN MR. Handgrip and a 5-second sprint were measured before, following the first MR, and after the ITT. Ratings of perceived exertion Borg 6 to 20, thermal sensation, and thermal pleasantness were recorded every 5 km. Core temperature and heart rate were recorded throughout. Results: The ITT performance significantly improved with MEN MR by 2.3% (2.7%) relative to the placebo (62.6 [5.7] vs 64.0 [4.9] min P = .034; d = 0.85; 95% confidence interval, 0.14 to 2.8 min). The average power output was significantly higher in the MEN trial (P = .031; d = 0.87; 95% confidence interval, 0.9 to 15.0 W). No significant interaction of time and MR for handgrip (P = .581, η 2 = .04) or sprint was observed (P = .365, η 2 = .103). Core temperature, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, and thermal sensation did not significantly differ between trials at set distances (P > .05). Pleasantness significantly differed between the placebo and MEN only at 5 km, with no differences at other TT distances. Conclusion: These results suggest that a nonthermal cooling agent can improve 30-km ITT performance in female cyclists, although the improved performance with MEN MR is not due to altered thermal perception.

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Jordan L. Fox, Jesse Green, and Aaron T. Scanlan

Purpose: To compare peak and average intensities encountered during winning and losing game quarters in basketball players. Methods: Eight semiprofessional male basketball players (age = 23.1 [3.8] y) were monitored during all games (N = 18) over 1 competitive season. The average intensities attained in each quarter were determined using microsensors and heart-rate monitors to derive relative values (per minute) for the following variables: PlayerLoad, frequency of high-intensity and total accelerations, decelerations, changes of direction, jumps, and total inertial movement analysis events combined, as well as modified summated-heart-rate-zones workload. The peak intensities reached in each quarter were determined using microsensors and reported as PlayerLoad per minute over 15-second, 30-second, 1-minute, 2-minute, 3-minute, 4-minute, and 5-minute sample durations. Linear mixed models and effect sizes were used to compare intensity variables between winning and losing game quarters. Results: Nonsignificant (P > .05), unclear–small differences were evident between winning and losing game quarters in all variables. Conclusions: During winning and losing game quarters, peak and average intensities were similar. Consequently, factors other than the intensity of effort applied during games may underpin team success in individual game quarters and therefore warrant further investigation.

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Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Astrid Aracama, Alba Roldan, and Raúl Reina

Purpose: The objectives of this study were to analyze whether there were differences among para-footballers with different types and degrees of brain impairment (ie, bilateral spasticity, athetosis/ataxia, unilateral spasticity, minimum impairment criteria, or no impairment) in performing 3 football-specific tests requiring ball dribbling, to analyze whether there was an association among the results obtained in the 3 tests, and to determine whether the performance in the tests was associated with competitive level, level of training, or years’ experience in para-footballers with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: A total of 123 footballers took part in the study, 87 of whom were footballers with CP and 36 who were without impairment. Both groups were assessed in 3 football-specific tests (Stop and Go, Turning and Dribbling, and the Illinois Agility Test). Results: The results showed that the footballers without impairment recorded a better performance in all tests (P < .01) in comparison with the CP players. No significant differences in test performance were observed among the CP players from different competitive levels. However, significant differences (P < .01) were observed between players with diplegia or athetosis/ataxia compared with players with hemiplegia or minimum impairment level. Performance in the tests did not correlate with years of football experience, weekly strength training sessions, or specific football training in the footballers with CP (P = .12–.95). Conclusions: These findings suggest the possible inclusion of these tests in the classification process for footballers with CP because they discriminate among functional classes and are resistant to training and competitive level.

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Jonpaul Nevin and Paul M. Smith

Purpose: To explore the relationship between absolute and relative upper-body strength and selected measures of handcycling performance. Methods: A total of 13 trained H3/H4-classified male handcyclists (mean [SD] age 37 [11] y; body mass 76.6 [10.1] kg; peak oxygen consumption 2.8 [0.6] L·min−1; relative peak oxygen consumption 36.5 [10] mL·kg·min−1) performed a prone bench-pull and bench-press 1-repetition-maximum strength assessment, a 15-km individual time trial, a graded exercise test, and a 15-second all-out sprint test. Relationships between all variables were assessed using Pearson correlation coefficient. Results: Absolute strength measures displayed a large correlation with gross mechanical efficiency and maximum anaerobic power output (P = .05). However, only a small to moderate relationship was identified with all other measures. In contrast, relative strength measures demonstrated large to very large correlations with gross mechanical efficiency, 15-km time-trial velocity, maximum anaerobic power output, peak aerobic power output, power at a fixed blood lactate concentration of 4 mmol·L−1, and peak oxygen consumption (P = .05). Conclusion: Relative upper-body strength demonstrates a significant relationship with time-trial velocity and several handcycling performance measures. Relative strength is the product of one’s ability to generate maximal forces relative to body mass. Therefore, the development of one’s absolute strength combined with a reduction in body mass may influence real-world handcycling race performance.

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Craig Thomas, Helen Jones, Craig Whitworth-Turner, and Julien Louis

Purpose: (1) To compare the sleep of female players from a professional soccer team to nonathlete controls across an in-season week and (2) to compare the sleep of core and fringe players from the same team on the night after a match to training nights. Methods: Using an observational design, 18 professional female soccer players and 18 female nonathlete controls were monitored for their sleep via wristwatch actigraphy across 1 week. Independent-sample t tests and Mann–Whitney U tests were performed to compare sleep between groups, while an analysis of variance compared sleep on training nights to the night after a match. Results: Soccer players had significantly greater sleep duration than nonathlete controls (+38 min; P = .009; d: 0.92), which may have resulted from an earlier bedtime (−00:31 h:min; P = .047; d: 0.70). The soccer players also had less intraindividual variation in bedtime than nonathletes (−00:08 h:min; P = .023; r: .38). Despite this, sleep-onset latency was significantly longer among soccer players (+8 min; P = .032; d: 0.78). On the night after a match, sleep duration of core players was significantly lower than on training nights (−49 min; P = .010; d: 0.77). In fringe players, there was no significant difference between nights for any sleep characteristic. Conclusions: During the in-season period, sleep duration of professional female soccer players is greater than nonathlete controls. However, the night after a match challenges the sleep of players with more match involvement and warrants priority of sleep hygiene strategies.

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Vicky L. Goosey-Tolfrey, Sonja de Groot, Keith Tolfrey, and Tom A.W. Paulson

Purpose: To confirm whether peak aerobic capacity determined during laboratory testing could be replicated during an on-court field-based test in wheelchair rugby players. Methods: Sixteen wheelchair rugby players performed an incremental speed-based peak oxygen uptake (V˙O2peak) test on a motorized treadmill (TM) and completed a multistage fitness test (MFT) on a basketball court in a counterbalanced order, while spirometric data were recorded. A paired t test was performed to check for systematic error between tests. A Bland–Altman plot for V˙O2peak illustrated the agreement between the TM and MFT results and how this related to the boundaries of practical equivalence. Results: No significant differences between mean V˙O2peak were reported (TM: 1.85 [0.63] vs MFT: 1.81 [0.63] L·min−1; P = .33). Bland–Altman plot for V˙O2peak suggests that the mean values are in good agreement at the group level; that is, the exact 95% confidence limits for the ratio systematic error (0.95–1.02) are within the boundaries of practical equivalence (0.88–1.13) showing that the group average TM and MFT values are interchangeable. However, consideration of the data at the level of the individual athlete suggests that the TM and MFT results were not interchangeable because the 95% ratio limits of agreement either coincide with the boundaries of practical equivalence (upper limit) or fall outside (lower limit). Conclusions: Results suggest that the MFT provides a suitable test at a group level with this cohort of wheelchair rugby players for the assessment of V˙O2peak (range 0.97–3.64 L·min–1), yet caution is noted for interchangeable use of values between tests for individual players.

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Nick Draper, David Giles, Nicola Taylor, Laurent Vigouroux, Vanesa España-Romero, Jiří Baláš, Ignacio Solar Altamirano, Franziska Mally, Ina Beeretz, Jorge Couceiro Canalejo, Gabriel Josseron, Jan Kodejška, María José Arias Téllez, and German Gallo Cabeza de Vaca

Purpose: To examine the validity and reliability of a battery of 10 measures designed to assess the key physiological parameters for successful rock climbing performance. Methods: In phase 1 of the research, an expert panel, using the Delphi method, established a 10-item test battery based on the key determinants of climbing performance. In phase 2, the tests were assessed for validity and reliability to examine their suitability as sport-specific measures of rock climbing performance. A total of 132 rock climbers, from 7 countries, volunteered to take part in the study. Each climber visited their nearest laboratory on 3 separate occasions in order to enable the required tests and retests to be completed. A minimum of 7 days was allowed between visits. Results: The 10 tests established for phase 2 were designed as sport-specific measures of flexibility, strength, power, and endurance. Results indicated that, while reliable, the flexibility and strength tests were only partially successful in differentiating across climber abilities. The power and endurance tests, however, performed well with regard to validity and reliability, with the finger hang and powerslap tests being most strongly correlated with performance ability (P < .0005 to P < .002). Conclusion: The authors’ data suggest that climbing may require a threshold level of flexibility and strength for successful performance, beyond which further improvements may not be required. In contrast, the finger hang and powerslap tests were not only reliable measures but also differentiated between climber abilities from lower grade to elite levels.

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David Giles, Cam Hartley, Hamish Maslen, Josh Hadley, Nicola Taylor, Ollie Torr, Joel Chidley, Tom Randall, and Simon Fryer

Purpose: The fatigue resistance of the finger flexors is known to be a key determinant of climbing performance. This study set out to establish the association between the single all-out assessment of finger flexor critical force (ff-CF) and the impulse above CF (W') on climbing performance (self-reported sport and boulder climbing ability). Methods: A total of 129 subjects completed an assessment of dominant arm ff-CF, comprised of a series of rhythmic isometric maximum voluntary contractions (CF defined as mean end-test force [in kilograms]; W' impulse above CF [in kilogram second]). Results: The ff-CF protocol resulted in the same force decay to a plateau seen in previous isometric critical torque and critical force tests. Linear regression analysis, adjusting for sex, revealed that CF percentage of body mass explained 61% of sport and 26% of bouldering performance and W' per kilogram body mass explained 7% sport and 34% bouldering performance. A combined model of CF as a percentage of body mass and W' per kilogram body mass, after adjustment for sex differences, was able to explain 66% of sport climbing and 44% of bouldering performance. Conclusions: The results illustrate the relevance of the CF threshold in describing the fatigue resistance of the finger flexors of rock climbers. Given ff-CF ability to describe a considerable proportion of variance in sport climbing and bouldering ability, the authors expect it to become a common test used by coaches for understanding exercise tolerance and for determining optimal training prescription.

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Natthapon Traiperm, Rungchai Chaunchaiyakul, Martin Burtscher, and Hannes Gatterer

Purpose: Plasma N-terminal pro-B-type natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) and cardiac troponin T levels show a transient increase after marathon running. The aim of this study was to investigate whether running duration influences the patterns of changes in cardiac biomarkers. Methods: Twenty participants with fast and slow finishing times were included in the study. Blood samples were taken before the marathon race, immediately after, and 24 hours after the race. Samples were analyzed for NT-proBNP and cardiac troponin T concentration. Furthermore, a complete blood cell count was performed. Results: After the marathon race, the fast and slow runners showed similar changes of NT-proBNP and cardiac troponin T (ie, a transient increase). Curve estimation regression analysis showed a curvilinear relationship (quadratic model) between running times and NT-proBNP increments immediately after the race, with less of an increase in the very fast and the very slow runners (r 2 = .359, P = .023). NT-proBNP increments immediately after the race were correlated to the decline 24 hours after the marathon (r = −.612, P = .004). Conclusions: This study indicates that NT-proBNP release immediately after marathon running varies in a curvilinear fashion with running time. It is speculated that low NT-proBNP release is associated with training adaptation in most elite runners and the relatively low cardiac stress in the slowest (but experienced) runners. The combination of less adaptation and relatively large cardiac wall and metabolic stress may explain the highest NT-proBNP values in runners with average running times. In addition, NT-proBNP decrements 24 hours after the race depend primarily on the values reached after the marathon and not on running time.