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Eimear Dolan, SarahJane Cullen, Adrian McGoldrick, and Giles D. Warrington

Purpose:

To examine the impact of making weight on aerobic work capacity and cognitive processes in a group of professional jockeys.

Methods:

Nine male jockeys and 9 age-, gender-, and BMI-matched controls were recruited to take part in two experimental trials, conducted 48 hr apart. The jockeys were asked to reduce their body mass by 4% in the 48 hr between trials, and controls maintained usual dietary and physical activity habits between trials. Aerobic work capacity was assessed by performance during an incremental cycle ergometer test. Motor response, decision making, executive function, and working memory were assessed using a computerized cognitive test battery.

Results:

The jockey group significantly reduced their body mass by 3.6 ± 0.9% (p < .01). Mean urine specific gravity (Usg) readings increased from 1.019 ± 0.004–1.028 ± 0.005 (p < .01) following this reduction in body mass. Peak work capacity was significantly reduced between trials in the jockey group (213 ± 27 vs. 186 ± 23 W, p < .01), although VO2peak (46.4 ± 3.7 vs. 47.2 ± 6.3 ml·kg·min-1) remained unchanged. No changes were identified for any cognitive variable in the jockey group between trials.

Conclusion:

Simulation of race day preparation, by allocating a weight that is 4% below baseline body mass caused all jockeys to report for repeat testing in a dehydrated state, and a reduction in aerobic work capacity, both of which may impact on racing performance.

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Lewis King, Sarah Jane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty

The purpose of this study was to explore the sources of stress reported by professional jockeys. In total, 15 jockeys participated in semistructured interviews that included apprentice, conditional, and senior jockeys. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data that included inductive and deductive approaches. Jockeys reported a wide range of stress sources. Four core themes were identified and categorized as competitive (current form or being in a slump, pressure, horse, injury, opponents, tactical, and race day), racing industry (weight, workload, travel demands, injury concerns, suspension, and facilities), interpersonal (trainer, other jockeys, expectations of others, support networks, and communication), and career stressors (career uncertainty, career opportunities, and transitions). The findings highlight unique stressors to the jockey population, as well as stressors common with other athlete groups. Practical applied recommendations and future research directions are provided.

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SarahJane Cullen, Eimear Dolan, Kate O Brien, Adrian McGoldrick, and Giles Warrington

Balance and anaerobic performance are key attributes related to horse-racing performance, but research on the impact of making weight for racing on these parameters remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of rapid weight loss in preparation for racing on balance and anaerobic performance in a group of jockeys.

Methods:

Twelve apprentice male jockeys and 12 age- and gender-matched controls completed 2 trials separated by 48 h. In both trials, body mass, hydration status, balance, and anaerobic performance were assessed. Between the trials, the jockeys reduced body mass by 4% using weight-loss methods typically adopted in preparation for racing, while controls maintained body mass through typical daily dietary and physical activity habits.

Results:

Apprentice jockeys decreased mean body mass by 4.2% ± 0.3% (P < .001) with a subsequent increase in dehydration (P < .001). The controls maintained body mass and a euhydrated state. No differences in balance, on the left or right side, or in peak power, mean power, or fatigue index were reported between the trials in either group.

Conclusion:

Results from this study indicate that a 4% reduction in body mass in 48 h through the typical methods employed for racing, in association with an increase in dehydration, resulted in no impairments in balance or anaerobic performance. Further research is required to evaluate performance in a sport-specific setting and to investigate the specific physiological mechanisms involved.

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Lewis King, SarahJane Cullen, Jean McArdle, Adrian McGoldrick, Jennifer Pugh, Giles Warrington, and Ciara Losty

A large proportion of jockeys report symptoms associated with mental health difficulties (MHDs), yet most do not seek help from professional mental health support services. Due to the paucity of literature in this field, this study sought to explore jockeys’ barriers to, and facilitators of, help-seeking for MHDs. Twelve jockeys participated in semistructured interviews, subsequently analyzed via reflexive thematic analysis. Barriers to help-seeking included the negative perceptions of others (stigma and career implications), cultural norms (masculinity and self-reliance), and low mental health literacy (not knowing where to seek help, minimization of MHDs, negative perceptions of treatment, and recognizing symptoms). Facilitators to help-seeking included education (exposure to psychological support at a younger age), social support (from professionals, jockeys, family, and friends), and media campaigns (high-profile disclosures from jockeys). Findings are consistent with barrier and facilitator studies among general and athletic populations. Applied recommendations and future research considerations are presented throughout the manuscript.