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Lauren A. Burt, David A. Greene, and Geraldine A. Naughton

Purpose: To synthesize existing literatures on the impact of gymnastics participation on the skeletal health of young male gymnasts. Methods: Following a systematic search, 12 studies were included in this review. Quality of included studies was assessed using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE modified) criteria. Results: Assessment of skeletal health varied between and within imaging modality protocols. Gymnasts had higher total bone content, greater total and trabecular bone density, larger bone size, a thicker cortex, and higher estimates of bone strength than controls. Recreational studies reported no difference in height or weight between gymnasts and controls; however, elite gymnasts were shorter and lighter than nongymnasts. STROBE scores ranged from 65% to 95%. Conclusion: Gymnastics participation may be beneficial to the bone health of young males as gymnasts had higher bone density and bone mineral content, larger bones, and greater estimates of bone strength than controls.

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Leslie N. Silk, David A. Greene, and Michael K. Baker

Research examining the preventative effects of calcium and vitamin D supplementation has focused on children and females, leaving the effects on male bone mineral density (BMD) largely unexplored. Thus, the aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to examine the efficacy of calcium supplementation, with or without vitamin D for improving BMD in healthy males. Medline, EMBASE, SPORTDiscus, Academic Search Complete, CINHAHL Plus and PubMed databases were searched for studies including healthy males which provided participants calcium supplementation with or without vitamin D and used changes to BMD as the primary outcome measure. Between trial standardized mean differences of percentage change from baseline in BMD of femoral neck, lumbar spine, total body and total hip sites were calculated. Nine studies were included in the systematic review with six references totaling 867 participants contributing to the meta-analysis. Significant pooled effects size (ES) for comparison between supplementation and control groups were found at all sites included in the meta-analysis. The largest effect was found in total body (ES = 0.644; 95% CI = 0.406–0.883; p < .001), followed by total hip (ES = 0.483, 95% CI= 0.255–0.711, p < .001), femoral neck (ES = 0.402, 95% CI = 0.233–0.570, p = .000) and lumbar spine (ES = 0.306, 95% CI = 0.173–0.440, p < .001). Limited evidence appears to support the use of calcium and vitamin D supplementation for improving BMD in older males. There is a need for high quality randomized controlled trials, especially in younger and middle-aged male cohorts and athletic populations to determine whether supplementation provides a preventative benefit.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, David A. Greene, Rich D. Johnston, and Andrew D. Townshend

This study investigated the relationship between 2 different assessments of tackling ability, physical qualities, and match-play performance in semiprofessional rugby league players. A total of 18 semiprofessional rugby league players (mean [SD]: age = 23.1 [2.0] y and body mass = 98.8 [11.8] kg) underwent tests of upper- and lower-body strength and power. Tackling ability was assessed using video analysis of under- and over-the-ball tackle drills. A total of 2360 tackles were analyzed from match play. Over-the-ball tackle ability was positively related to the proportion of dominant tackles (Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients [r s] = .52; 95% confidence interval [CI] .07–.79, P = .03) and average play-the-ball speeds (r s = .50; 95% CI .04–.78, P = .03) and negatively related to tackles that conceded offloads (r s = −.55; 95% CI −.78 to .04, P = .04). Under-the-ball tackle ability was significantly related to the proportion of dominant tackles (r s = .57; 95% CI .14–.82, P = .01) and missed tackles (r s = −.48; 95% CI −.77 to .02, P = .05). Good over-the-ball tacklers performed proportionally more dominant tackles, allowed significantly fewer offloads, and had longer average play-the-ball speeds. Good under-the-ball tacklers missed proportionately fewer tackles. This study suggests that both the under-the-ball and over-the-ball standardized tackle assessments are associated with varying indicators of match-play tackle performance and justifies the practical utility of these tests to assess and develop both types of tackles.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, David A. Greene, Rich D. Johnston, Andrew D. Townshend, and Brett O’Farrell

This study investigated the relationship between 2 tests of tackling ability, muscle strength, and power in semiprofessional rugby league players. Thirty-one players, 19 first-grade and 12 second-grade, underwent tests of muscle strength (1-repetition-maximum bench press, chin-up, and squat) and power (plyometric push-up and countermovement jump). Tackling ability was assessed via video analysis of under-and over-the-ball tackle drills. The first-grade players had significantly greater scores in both the under-the-ball (P = .03, effect size [ES] = 0.84, 95% CI 0.07–1.50) and over-the-ball tackling-ability tests (P < .001, ES =1.86, 95% CI 0.83–2.52) than the second-grade players. A large, significant relationship was found between under- and over-the-ball tackling ability (r = .55, 95% CI .24–.76, P = .001). Lower-body strength (r = .37, 95% CI .02–.64, P = .04) was moderately associated with under-the-ball tackling ability, whereas over-the-ball tackling ability was moderately associated with plyometric push-up performance (r = .39, 95% CI .04–.65, P = .03). This study found that over-the-ball tackling ability was significantly associated with under-the-ball tackling in semiprofessional rugby league players. Furthermore, it was found that, compared with the second-grade players, the first-grade players had superior tackle ability in both tackle drills. In this study it was observed that plyometric push-up peak power was significantly related to over-the-ball tackling ability and absolute lower-body strength was associated with under-the-ball tackling ability. These findings provide skill coaches and strength and conditioning staff a greater understanding of elements that contribute to effective tackling ability.

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David A. Greene, Geraldine A. Naughton, Julie N. Briody, Allan Kemp, Helen Woodhead, and Nathalie Farpour-Lambert

This study compared tibial bone and muscle geometry and total body and regional bone mineral content (BMC) in elite female adolescent middle-distance runners (n = 20, age: 16 ± 1.7 years) and age- and sex-matched controls (n = 20, 16 ± 1.8 years) using magnetic resonance imaging and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Significant advantages were found in athletes compared with controls in bone and muscle geometric values for distal tibial cortical, medullary cavity, distal tibial total muscle and dorsi flexor muscle compartment cross-sectional area, and regional BMC. Results imply mechanical loads associated with middle-distance running might be beneficial to musculoskeletal health in adolescent females.