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Volume 32 (2024): Issue 4 (Aug 2024)

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Volume 12 (2024): Issue S1 (Aug 2024)

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Volume 36 (2024): Issue 3 (Aug 2024)

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Creating and Sustaining a High-Performing Tennis Culture

Christine Nash, Miguel Crespo, and Rafael Martínez-Gallego

The coach is identified as a key actor in the development of a high-performing culture in sport, in this case, tennis. Using mixed-methods research design, we investigated the views of the participating high-performance tennis coaches on the International Tennis Federation/Olympic Solidarity coach education and certification programme conducted in Spain, and how they felt their involvement made an impact within their national organisations, by enabling them to develop and implement a coach-created high-performing environment. We collected data using both interview and survey procedures. Our findings from the survey indicated that the participating coaches found the programme to be very helpful to their practice, especially to their long-term tennis development, the structure and organisation of effective tennis programmes, and the implementation of appropriate training methods for their players. Content analysis of the interviews revealed three main themes related to creating a high-performing tennis culture: (a) high-performing environment, (b) deliberate focus on growth and development, and (c) obstacles to creating a tennis culture. We discuss the challenges associated with transferring a successful sports development programme to a different cultural environment and conclude with some key points for effective implementation.

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Developing Close, Trusting Coach–Athlete Relationships With High-Performance Adolescent Tennis Players

Mikaela C. Papich, Gordon A. Bloom, and Lea-Cathrin Dohme

The purpose of this study was to understand why and how experienced tennis coaches developed quality relationships with their high-performance adolescent athletes that prioritized athletes’ needs and well-being. Five highly regarded Canadian tennis coaches of internationally ranked adolescent players engaged in two semistructured interviews and three story completion tasks. The data were analyzed using reflexive thematic analysis. Findings outlined that coaches unanimously believed establishing a close, trusting relationship with their adolescent athletes was fundamental to creating a caring environment in which empathy for athletes’ athletic, academic, and personal demands could be demonstrated. Coaches also described the difficulties of navigating these close relationships in a climate that is under severe scrutiny because of athlete maltreatment allegations. Examples of coaching behaviors that fostered closeness and maintained athlete safety included demonstrating care towards athletes’ social, emotional, academic, and athletic challenges, encouraging dialogue in which athletes expressed their wants and needs, and involving parents to help maintain transparency regarding the establishment of closeness. Uniquely, this study provides practical suggestions for how coaches can nurture closeness while promoting safe environments that prioritize athletes’ welfare.

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Digest

Kim Gammage, Erica Bennett, Matthew Bird, Jordan Blazo, Alyson Crozier, Alison Ede, Matt Hoffman, Seungmin Lee, Sascha Leisterer, Sean Locke, Eva Pila, and Matthew Stork

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Does “Live High–Train Low and High” Hypoxic Training Alter Stride Mechanical Pattern During Repeated Sprints in Elite Team-Sport Players?

Olivier Girard, Grégoire P. Millet, and Franck Brocherie

Purpose: We examined changes in stride temporal parameters and spring-mass model characteristics during repeated sprints following a 3-week period of “live high–train low and high” (LHTLH) altitude training in team-sport players. Methods: While residing under normobaric hypoxia (≥14 h/d; inspired oxygen fraction [FiO2] 14.5%–14.2%) for 14 days, elite field hockey players performed, in addition to their regular field hockey practice in normoxia, 6 sessions (4 × 5 × 5-s maximal sprints; 25-s passive recovery; 5-min rest) under either normobaric hypoxia (LHTLH; FiO2 ∼14.5%, n = 11) or normoxia (live high–train low; FiO2 20.9%, n = 12). A control group (live low–train low; FiO2 ∼20.9%, n = 9) residing in normoxia without additional repeated-sprint training was included. Before (Pre) and a few days (Post-1) and 3 weeks (Post-2) after the intervention, stride mechanics were assessed during an overground repeated-sprint test (8 × 20 m, 20-s recovery). Two-way repeated-measures analysis of variance (time [Pre, Post-1, and Post-2] × condition [LHTLH, live high–train low, and live low–train low]) were conducted. Results: Peak sprinting speed increased in LHTLH from Pre to Post-1 (+2.2% [2.0%]; P = .002) and Post-2 (+2.0% [2.4%]; P = .025), with no significant changes in live high–train low and live low–train low. There was no main effect of time (all P ≥ .062), condition (all P ≥ .771), or a significant time × condition interaction (all P ≥ .230) for any stride temporal variable (contact time, flight time, stride frequency, and stride length) or spring-mass model characteristics (vertical and leg stiffness). Conclusions: Peak sprinting speed improved in elite field hockey players following LHTLH altitude training, while stride mechanical adjustments to repeated overground sprints remained unchanged for at least 3 weeks postintervention.

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Enriching Player Development in Women’s Futsal in Portugal: A Narrative Account of Case Examples

Fernando Santos, Keith Davids, Rute Carvalho, Corina Rabaça, and Débora Queiroz

In Portugal, women’s participation in futsal, one of the most popular sports in the country, has increased 85.5% in the last decade, growing from 5,406 to 10,028 female participants. The purpose of this critical commentary is to provide insights on current conditions in women’s futsal in Portugal and what we can learn to improve experiences and opportunities for future generations of players as well as to advance new possibilities for research in this field. Based on the authors’ lived experiences and expertise, a narrative account has been developed to showcase athletes’ developmental pathways within the female futsal landscape in Portugal as case examples. This article seeks to provide some novel insights across sport systems concerning the processes and mechanisms through which athlete development in women’s sport can be enriched as well as how research can be used to increase equity and social justice. The narrative accounts can be taken to imply that there is the need to increase meaningful opportunities for the development of female futsal athletes through using more contemporary pedagogical strategies and structures by the futsal organizations. These contemporary pedagogical strategies may focus on variables such as improved coach education offerings, increased number of practice sessions per week, and access to modernized facilities and equipment. Moving forward, system-level changes are needed to impact individual–environment relationships more accurately as well as continue to foster the growth of the sport.

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Introducing the Task as a Challenge Does Not Mitigate the Negative Effect of Gender Stereotype Threat on Motor Skill Learning in Adolescents

Sara Soltanifar, Rasool Abedanzadeh, Adele Ahmadinezhad, and Seyyed Mohammadreza Mousavi

Gender stereotype threat is a sociocultural variable that has received significant attention over the past two decades. We explored whether presenting a task as a practical and challenging activity would reduce the negative impact of implicit activation of gender stereotype threat on motor learning in adolescent girls. Forty-five adolescent girls (M age ± SD: 13.24 ± 1.06) participated in the study and were asked to throw a tennis ball toward a circular target using their nondominant hand. They were asked to perform five throws as an initial assessment and then were randomly assigned to three groups: IS/CH (i.e., implicit stereotype threat activation and framing the task as a challenge), IS/TH (i.e., implicit stereotype threat activation and framing the task as a threat), and the control (with no instructions). In the IS/CH and IS/TH groups, the participants performed the acquisition phase (five blocks of 10 trials) in the presence of a male evaluator. We used verbal instructions to frame the task as a practical and challenging activity (i.e., learning this task might be a big help in physical education classes in school because it improves throwing skills, and it will help improve control over the nondominant arm which is important in daily activities) and/or threat (i.e., show how good you are on this type of task, and based on your scores, we will be able to measure your natural ability at throwing tasks) before the acquisition phase. One day after the acquisition phase, participants were asked to participate in the retention (10 throws) and transfer tests (10 throws from a distance of 6.5 m). Our findings demonstrated that participants in the control group were able to achieve more effective learning compared with participants in the IS/TH and IS/CH groups. Possible reasons for these results were discussed.

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Menstrual-Cycle Symptoms and Sleep Characteristics in Elite Soccer Players

Shona L. Halson, Rich D. Johnston, Madison Pearson, and Clare Minahan

Purpose: To determine whether menstrual-cycle symptoms are associated with sleep in elite female athletes. Methods: Sleep was assessed for a minimum of 25 nights (range = 25–31) using activity monitoring and sleep diaries. Menstrual-cycle symptoms were collected over the same duration in 12 elite female professional soccer players. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the relationship between the day of the menstrual cycle (from day 1) and total menstrual-cycle symptoms on sleep characteristics. Results: There was a significant relationship between sleep duration and the day of the menstrual cycle (P = .042) and total symptoms reported that day (P < .001), with sleep duration increasing by 21 minutes for every symptom reported. There was a negative day × symptom interaction on sleep duration (P = .004), indicating that with increased symptoms, the day of the menstrual cycle had a smaller relationship with sleep duration. Sleep efficiency (P = .950), wake after sleep onset (P = .217), and subjective sleep quality (P = .080) were not related to the day of the menstrual cycle. The total symptoms reported had no relationship with sleep efficiency (P = .220), subjective sleep quality (P = .502), or sleep latency (P = .740) but did significantly relate to wake after sleep onset (P < .001), with a significant day × symptom interaction (P < .001). Conclusions: Sleep duration increased from day 1 of the menstrual cycle and was associated with the number of menstrual-cycle symptoms reported. All other sleep metrics remained unchanged; however, total symptoms reported were related to wake after sleep onset. Monitoring and managing menstrual-cycle symptoms should be encouraged due to a potential relationship with sleep characteristics.