Static stretching (SS) is widely used in warm-ups before training and competition. A growing amount of research, however, has demonstrated that SS can impair muscle performance, leading to a reevaluation of optimal warm-up protocols. This commentary discusses many of the methodological issues that can influence conclusions about the acute effects of SS on performance. One difficulty in interpreting the literature is the lack of control or communication about the volume and intensity of the various stretching treatments used. Another major issue is the failure of many researchers to evaluate SS as it is used in practice, particularly the interaction with the other general and sport-specific components of the warm-up. Acute warm-up effects on performance should be considered in conjunction with potential effects on injury prevention. Future directions in research include optimizing general and sport-specific warm-ups, time course of physiological and performance effects, and individualization of warm-ups according to fitness and skill level.
Warren B. Young
The purposes of this review are to identify the factors that contribute to the transference of strength and power training to sports performance and to provide resistance-training guidelines. Using sprinting performance as an example, exercises involving bilateral contractions of the leg muscles resulting in vertical movement, such as squats and jump squats, have minimal transfer to performance. However, plyometric training, including unilateral exercises and horizontal movement of the whole body, elicits significant increases in sprint acceleration performance, thus highlighting the importance of movement pattern and contraction velocity specificity. Relatively large gains in power output in nonspecific movements (intramuscular coordination) can be accompanied by small changes in sprint performance. Research on neural adaptations to resistance training indicates that intermuscular coordination is an important component in achieving transfer to sports skills. Although the specificity of resistance training is important, general strength training is potentially useful for the purposes of increasing body mass, decreasing the risk of soft-tissue injuries, and developing core stability. Hypertrophy and general power exercises can enhance sports performance, but optimal transfer from training also requires a specific exercise program.
Simon A. Feros, Warren B. Young, and Brendan J. O’Brien
Objectives: To evaluate the reliability and sensitivity of performance measures in a novel pace-bowling test. Methods: Thirteen male amateur-club fast bowlers completed a novel pace-bowling test on 2 separate occasions, 4–7 d apart. Participants delivered 48 balls (8 overs) at 5 targets on a suspended sheet situated behind a live batter, who stood in a right-handed and left-handed stance for an equal number of deliveries. Delivery instruction was frequently changed, with all deliveries executed in a preplanned sequence. Data on ball-release speed were captured by radar gun. A high-speed camera captured the moment of ball impact on the target sheet for assessment of radial error and bivariate variable error. Delivery rating of perceived exertion (0–100%) was collected as a measure of intensity. Results: Intraclass correlation coefficients and coefficients of variation revealed excellent reliability for peak and mean ball-release speed, acceptable reliability for delivery rating of perceived exertion, and poor reliability for mean radial error, bivariate variable error, and variability of ball-release speed. The smallest worthwhile change indicated high sensitivity with peak and mean ball-release speed and lower sensitivity with mean radial error and bivariate variable error. Conclusions: The novel pace-bowling test incorporates improvements in ecological validity compared with its predecessors and can be used to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of pace-bowling performance. Data on the smallest worthwhile change can improve interpretation of pace-bowling research findings and may therefore influence recommendations for applied practice.
Daniel J. Hornery, Damian Farrow, Iñigo Mujika, and Warren B. Young
To determine the effects of prolonged simulated tennis on performance and the ergogenic potential of caffeine, carbohydrates, and cooling.
Twelve highly trained male tennis players (age 18.3 ± 3.0 y, height 178.8 ± 8.5 cm, body mass 73.95 ± 12.30 kg, mean ± SD) performed 4 simulated matches (2 h 40 min) against a ball machine on an indoor hard court. The counterbalanced experimental trials involved caffeine supplementation (3 mg/kg), carbohydrate supplementation (6% solution), precooling and intermittent cooling, and placebo control. Physiological markers (core temperature, heart rate, blood lactate, and blood glucose), subjective responses (ratings of perceived exertion and thermal sensation), stroke velocity and accuracy, serve kinematics, and tennis-specific perceptual skill quantified the efficacy of interventions.
Significant effects of time (P < .01) reflected increased physiological demand, reduced serve velocity and ground-stroke velocity and accuracy, and a slowing of the serve racket-arm acceleration phase. Caffeine increased serve velocity (165 ± 15 km/h) in the final set of the match (P = .014) compared with placebo (159 ± 15 km/h, P = .008) and carbohydrate (158 ± 13 km/h, P = .001) conditions. Carbohydrate and cooling conditions afforded physiological advantage (increased blood glucose, P < .01, and reduced preexercise thermal sensation, P < .01) but did not affect performance relative to the placebo condition.
Prolonged simulated tennis induced significant decrements in tennis skills. Caffeine supplementation partly attenuated the effects of fatigue and increased serve velocity. In contrast, carbohydrate and cooling strategies had little ergogenic effect on tennis performance.
Simon A. Feros, Warren B. Young, and Brendan J. O’Brien
Objectives: To evaluate the current evidence regarding the quantification of cricket fast-bowling skill. Methods: Studies that assessed fast-bowling skill (bowling speed and accuracy) were identified from searches in SPORTDiscus (EBSCO) in June 2017. The reference lists of identified papers were also examined for relevant investigations. Results: A total of 16 papers matched the inclusion criteria, and discrepancies in assessment procedures were evident. Differences in test environment, pitch, and cricket ball characteristics; the warm-up prior to test; test familiarization procedures; permitted run-up lengths; bowling spell length; delivery sequence; test instructions; collection of bowling speed data; and collection and reportage of bowling accuracy data were apparent throughout the literature. The reliability and sensitivity of fast-bowling skill measures have rarely been reported across the literature. Only 1 study has attempted to assess the construct validity of its skill measures. Conclusions: There are several discrepancies in how fast-bowling skill has been assessed and subsequently quantified in the literature to date. This is a problem, because comparisons between studies are often difficult. Therefore, a strong rationale exists for the creation of match-specific standardized fast-bowling assessments that offer greater ecological validity while maintaining acceptable reliability and sensitivity of the skill measures. If prospective research can act on the proposed recommendations from this review, then coaches will be able to make more informed decisions surrounding player selection, talent identification, return to skill following injury, and the efficacy of short- and long-term training interventions for fast bowlers.
Callum J. McCaskie, Warren B. Young, Brendan B. Fahrner, and Marc Sim
Purpose: To examine the association between preseason training variables and subsequent in-season performance in an elite Australian football team. Methods: Data from 41 elite male Australian footballers (mean [SD] age = 23.4 [3.1] y, height =188.4 [7.1] cm, and mass = 86.7 [7.9] kg) were collected from 1 Australian Football League (AFL) club. Preseason training data (external load, internal load, fitness testing, and session participation) were collected across the 17-wk preseason phase (6 and 11 wk post-Christmas). Champion Data© Player Rank (CDPR), coaches’ ratings, and round 1 selection were used as in-season performance measures. CDPR and coaches’ ratings were examined over the entire season, first half of the season, and the first 4 games. Both Pearson and partial (controlling for AFL age) correlations were calculated to assess if any associations existed between preseason training variables and in-season performance measures. A median split was also employed to differentiate between higher- and lower-performing players for each performance measure. Results: Preseason training activities appeared to have almost no association with performance measured across the entire season and the first half of the season. However, many preseason training variables were significantly linked with performance measured across the first 4 games. Preseason training variables that were measured post-Christmas were the most strongly associated with in-season performance measures. Specifically, total on-field session rating of perceived exertion post-Christmas, a measurement of internal load, displayed the greatest association with performance. Conclusion: Late preseason training (especially on-field match-specific training) is associated with better performance in the early season.
Stuart J. Cormack, Renee L. Smith, Mitchell M. Mooney, Warren B. Young, and Brendan J. O’Brien
To determine differences in load/min (AU) between standards of netball match play.
Load/min (AU) representing accumulated accelerations measured by triaxial accelerometers was recorded during matches of 2 higher- and 2 lower-standard teams (N = 32 players). Differences in load/min (AU) were compared within and between standards for playing position and periods of play. Differences were considered meaningful if there was >75% likelihood of exceeding a small (0.2) effect size.
Mean (± SD) full-match load/min (AU) for the higher and lower standards were 9.96 ± 2.50 and 6.88 ± 1.88, respectively (100% likely lower). The higher standard had greater (mean 97% likely) load/min (AU) values in each position. The difference between 1st and 2nd halves’ load/min (AU) was unclear at the higher standard, while lower-grade centers had a lower (−7.7% ± 10.8%, 81% likely) load/min (AU) in the 2nd half and in all quarters compared with the 1st. There was little intrastandard variation in individual vector contributions to load/min (AU); however, higher-standard players accumulated a greater proportion of the total in the vertical plane (mean 93% likely).
Higher-standard players produced greater load/min (AU) than their lower-standard counterparts in all positions. Playing standard influenced the pattern of load/min (AU) accumulation across a match, and individual vector analysis suggests that different-standard players have dissimilar movement characteristics. Load/min (AU) appears to be a useful method for assessing activity profile in netball.
Brian T. McCormick, James C. Hannon, Maria Newton, Barry Shultz, Nicole Detling, and Warren B. Young
Plyometrics is a popular training modality for basketball players to improve power and change-of-direction speed. Most plyometric training has used sagittal-plane exercises, but improvements in change-of-direction speed have been greater in multidirection programs.
To determine the benefits of a 6-wk frontal-plane plyometric (FPP) training program compared with a 6-wk sagittal-plane plyometric (SPP) training program with regard to power and change-of-direction speed.
Fourteen female varsity high school basketball players participated in the study. Multiple 2 × 2 repeated-measures ANOVAs were used to determine differences for the FPP and SPP groups from preintervention to postintervention on 4 tests of power and 2 tests of change-of-direction speed.
There was a group main effect for time in all 6 tests. There was a significant group × time interaction effect in 3 of the 6 tests. The SPP improved performance of the countermovement vertical jump more than the FPP, whereas the FPP improved performance of the lateral hop (left) and lateral-shuffle test (left) more than the SPP. The standing long jump, lateral hop (right), and lateral-shuffle test (right) did not show a significant interaction effect.
These results suggest that basketball players should incorporate plyometric training in all planes to improve power and change-of-direction speed.
Abbas Asadi, Hamid Arazi, Warren B. Young, and Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal
To show a clear picture about the possible variables of enhancements of change-of-direction (COD) ability using longitudinal plyometric-training (PT) studies and determine specific factors that influence the training effects.
A computerized search was performed, and 24 articles with a total of 46 effect sizes (ESs) in an experimental group and 25 ESs in a control group were reviewed to analyze the role of various factors on the impact of PT on COD performance.
The results showed that participants with good fitness levels obtained greater improvements in COD performance (P < .05), and basketball players gained more benefits of PT than other athletes. Also, men obtained COD results similar to those of women after PT. In relation to the variables of PT design, it appears that 7 wk (with 2 sessions/wk) using moderate intensity and 100 jumps per training session with a 72-h rest interval tends to improve COD ability. Performing PT with a combination of different types of plyometric exercises such as drop jumps + vertical jumps + standing long jumps is better than 1 form of exercise.
It is apparent that PT can be effective at improving COD ability. The loading parameters are essential for exercise professionals, coaches, and strength and conditioning professionals with regard to the most appropriate dose-response trends to optimize plyometric-induced COD-ability gains.