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Determining the Relationship Between Internal Load Markers and Noncontact Injuries in Young Elite Soccer Players

Javier Raya-González, Fabio Yuzo Nakamura, Daniel Castillo, Javier Yanci, and Maurizio Fanchini

Purpose: To examine the association and predictive ability of internal load markers with regard to noncontact injuries in young elite soccer players. Methods: Twenty-two soccer players (18.6 [0.6] y) who competed in the Spanish U19 League participated in the study. During a full season, noncontact injuries were recorded and, using session rating of perceived exertion, internal weekly load (sum of load of all training sessions and matches for each week) and acute:chronic workload ratio (typically, acute = current week and chronic = rolling 4-wk average) were calculated. A generalized estimating equation analysis was used to examine the association of weekly and acute:chronic load-ratio markers with a noncontact injury in the subsequent week. Load variables were also analyzed for predictive ability with receiver operating characteristic curve and area under the curve. Results: No association was found for weekly load (odds ratio = 1.00; 90% confidence interval, 0.99–1.00) and acute:chronic load ratio (odds ratio = 0.16; 90% confidence interval, 0.01–1.84) with respect to injury occurrence. In addition, the analyzed load markers showed poor ability to predict injury occurrence (area under the curve < .50). Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that internal load markers are not associated with noncontact injuries in young soccer players and present poor predictive capacity with regard to the latter.

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Caffeine Ingestion Improves Performance During Fitness Tests but Does Not Alter Activity During Simulated Games in Professional Basketball Players

Javier Raya-González, Aaron T. Scanlan, María Soto-Célix, Alejandro Rodríguez-Fernández, and Daniel Castillo

Purpose: To examine the effects of acute caffeine supplementation on physical performance during fitness testing and activity during simulated games in basketball players. Methods: A double-blind, counterbalanced, randomized, crossover study design was followed. A total of 14 professional male basketball players ingested a placebo (sucrose) and caffeine (6 mg·kg−1 of body mass) in liquid form prior to completing 2 separate testing sessions. Each testing session involved completion of a standardized 15-minute warm-up followed by various fitness tests including 20-m sprints, countermovement jumps, Lane Agility Drill trials, and a repeated-sprint-ability test. Following a 20-minute recovery, players completed 3 × 7-minute 5-vs-5 simulated periods of full-court basketball games, each separated by 2 minutes of recovery. Local positioning system technology was used to measure player activity during games. Players completed a side-effects questionnaire 12 to 14 hours after testing. Results: Players experienced significant (P < .05), moderatevery large (effect size = −2.19 to 0.89) improvements in 20-m sprint, countermovement jump, Lane Agility Drill, and repeated-sprint-ability performance with caffeine supplementation. However, external workloads completed during simulated games demonstrated nonsignificant, trivialsmall (effect size = −0.23 to 0.12) changes between conditions. In addition, players reported greater (P < .05) insomnia and urine output after caffeine ingestion. Conclusions: Acute caffeine supplementation could be effective to improve physical performance during tests stressing fitness elements important in basketball. However, acute caffeine supplementation appears to exert no meaningful effects on the activity completed during simulated basketball games and may promote sleep disturbances and exert a diuretic effect when taken at 6 mg·kg−1 of body mass in professional players.

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Injury Profile of Elite Male Young Soccer Players in a Spanish Professional Soccer Club: A Prospective Study During 4 Consecutive Seasons

Javier Raya-González, Luis Suárez-Arrones, Archit Navandar, Carlos Balsalobre-Fernández, and Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal

Context : As the number of injuries in young soccer players increases, an epidemiological study is the first step in improving preventive strategies. Objectives: To analyze the injury profile of a Spanish professional soccer club’s academy during 4 consecutive seasons and to examine the injury incidence across different chronological age groups. Design: Prospective cohort design. Setting: Aggregate injury and exposure data collected during 4 consecutive seasons. Participants: Three hundred nine elite male young soccer players. Main Outcomes Measures: Injuries that led to participation time missed from training and match play prospectively reported by medical or coaching staff of the club. Results: A total of 464 time-loss injuries were observed during this study period. The overall injury incidence was 2.93 injuries per 1000 hours, with higher incidence during matches than during training (10.16 vs 2.10 injuries/1000 h; rate ratio [RR] = 0.21; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.17–0.25; P < .05), with the U14 age group presenting the lowest injury rate (2.39 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.15–1.57; P < .05). In terms of injury severity, moderate injuries were the most frequent (1.42 injuries/1000 h). Muscle injuries were the most common type of injuries (57.7%; 2.75 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.84–13.4; P < .05), and hamstrings (93/268) were the most affected muscle group (0.58 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.58–2.91; P < .05). Injury incidence showed a seasonal variation as indicated by peaks in August and October. In matches, specifically, the match period between 75 and 90 minutes showed the highest injury incidence (10.29 injuries/1000 h; RR = 1.89–6.38; P < .01). Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that specific preventive strategies must be implemented to try to reduce the injury incidence in Spanish elite young soccer players attending to the characteristics of each age group.