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  • Author: Marije T. Elferink-Gemser x
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Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Florentina J. Hettinga

Pacing has been characterized as a multifaceted goal-directed process of decision making in which athletes need to decide how and when to invest their energy during the race, a process essential for optimal performance. Both physiological and psychological characteristics associated with adequate pacing and performance are known to develop with age. Consequently, the multifaceted skill of pacing might be under construction throughout adolescence, as well. Therefore, the authors propose that the complex skill of pacing is a potential important performance characteristic for talented youth athletes that needs to be developed throughout adolescence. To explore whether pacing is a marker for talent and how talented athletes develop this skill in middle-distance and endurance sports, they aim to bring together literature on pacing and literature on talent development and self-regulation of learning. Subsequently, by applying the cyclical process of self-regulation to pacing, they propose a practical model for the development of performance in endurance sports in youth athletes. Not only is self-regulation essential throughout the process of reaching the long-term goal of athletic excellence, but it also seems crucial for the development of pacing skills within a race and the development of a refined performance template based on previous experiences. Coaches and trainers are advised to incorporate pacing as a performance characteristic in their talent-development programs by stimulating their athletes to reflect, plan, monitor, and evaluate their races on a regular basis to build performance templates and, as such, improve their performance.

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Laura Jonker, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Ilse M. de Roos and Chris Visscher

Reflection is considered a key factor in expert learning and refers to the extent to which individuals are able to appraise what they have learned and to integrate these experiences into future actions, thereby maximizing performance improvements. We assessed the relation between self-reported reflection at baseline and attainment (i.e., international vs. national level) 2.5 years later in 52 elite youth athletes. A Mann-Whitney U test showed that those who became senior internationals scored highest on reflection during their junior years compared with those who only attained senior national status. More specifically, athletes who made the transition from junior national to senior international level had higher reflection scores than their peers who did not reach international status and had similar scores to those who were internationals as juniors. These results emphasize the value of reflection in elite youth athletes to attaining senior international status later in development.

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Tamara Kramer, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Chris Visscher

Purpose:

To analyze how physical fitness (PF) improves in elite junior tennis players related to age, maturity, and performance level.

Methods:

Elite junior tennis players (n = 113 boys, n = 83 girls) divided by performance level were monitored longitudinally from U14 to U16. Maturity, upper and lower-body power, speed, and agility were measured during subsequent competitive seasons. Improvement was analyzed per sex using multilevel analysis.

Results:

PF components for boys and girls improved over age (U14-U16) (ES .53–.97). In boys, the more mature boys outscored the less mature boys in upper and lower-body power from U14-U16. In girls, high-ranked girls outscored lower-ranked girls on lower-body power, speed, and agility (U14-U16) (p < .05).

Conclusion:

Boys and girls improved on all PF components during U14-U16. In boys, power was related to maturity. In girls, lower-body power, speed, and agility were related to tennis performance. This has important implications for talent development.

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Olaf S. Noorbergen, Marco J. Konings, Dominic Micklewright, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Florentina J. Hettinga

Purpose:

To explore pacing behavior and tactical positioning during the shorter 500- and 1000-m short-track competitions.

Methods:

Lap times and intermediate rankings of elite 500- and 1000-m short-track-skating competitors were collected over the 2012–13 season. First, lap times were analyzed using a MANOVA, and for each lap, differences between sex, race type, final ranking, and stage of competition were determined. Second, Kendall tau-b correlations were used to assess relationships between intermediate and final rankings. In addition, intermediate rankings of the winner of each race were examined.

Results:

Top-placed athletes appeared faster than bottom-placed athletes in every lap in the 500-m, while in the 1000-m no differences were found until the final 4 laps (P < .05). Correlations between intermediate and final rankings were already high at the beginning stages of the 50-m (lap 1: r = .59) but not for the 1000-m (lap 1: r = .21).

Conclusions:

Although 500- and 1000-m short-track races are both relatively short, fundamental differences in pacing behavior and tactical positioning were found. A fast-start strategy seems to be optimal for 500-m races, while the crucial segment in 1000-m races seems to be from the 6th lap to the finish line (ie, after ± 650 m). These findings provide evidence to suggest that athletes balance between choosing an energetically optimal profile and the tactical and positional benefits that play a role when riding against an opponent, as well as contributing to developing novel insights in exploring athletic behavior when racing against opponents.

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Rikstje Wiersma, Inge K. Stoter, Chris Visscher, Florentina J. Hettinga and Marije T. Elferink-Gemser

Purpose:

To provide insight on the development of pacing behavior in junior speed skaters and analyze possible differences between elite, subelite, and nonelite juniors.

Methods:

Season-best times (SBTs) in the 1500-m and corresponding pacing behavior were obtained longitudinally for 104 Dutch male speed skaters at age 13–14 (U15), 15–16 (U17), and 17–18 (U19) y. Based on their U19 SBT, skaters were divided into elite (n = 17), subelite (n = 64), and nonelite (n = 23) groups. Pacing behavior was analyzed using the 0- to 300-m, 300- to 700-m, 700- to 1100-m, and 1100- to 1500-m times, expressed as a percentage of final time. Mixed analyses of variance were used for statistical analyses.

Results:

With age, pacing behavior generally developed toward a slower 0- to 300-m and 1100- to 1500-m and a faster midsection relative to final time. While being faster on all sections, the elite were relatively slower on 0- to 300-m (22.1% ± 0.27%) than the subelite and nonelite (21.5% ± 0.44%) (P < .01) but relatively faster on 300- to 700-m (24.6% ± 0.30%) than the nonelite (24.9% ± 0.58%) (P = .002). On 700- to 1100-m, the elite and subelite (26.2% ± 0.25%) were relatively faster than the nonelite (26.5% ± 0.41%) (P = .008). Differences in the development of pacing behavior were found from U17 to U19, with relative 700- to 1100-m times decreasing for the elite and subelite (26.2% ± 0.31% to 26.1% ± 0.27%) but increasing for the nonelite (26.3% ± 0.29% to 26.5% ± 0.41%) (P = .014).

Conclusions:

Maintaining high speed into 700 to 1100 m, accompanied by a relatively slower start, appears crucial for high performance in 1500-m speed skating. Generally, juniors develop toward this profile, with a more pronounced development toward a relatively faster 700- to 1100-m from U17 to U19 for elite junior speed skaters. The results of the current study indicate the relevance of pacing behavior for talent development.

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Stein G.P. Menting, Marco J. Konings, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Florentina J. Hettinga

Purpose: To gain insight into the development of pacing behavior of youth athletes in 1500-m short-track speed-skating competition. Methods: Lap times and positioning of elite short-track skaters during the seasons 2011/2012–2015/2016 were analyzed (N = 9715). The participants were grouped into age groups: under 17 (U17), under 19 (U19), under 21 (U21), and senior. The difference between age groups, sexes, and stages of competition within each age group were analyzed through a multivariate analysis of variance (P < .05) of the relative section times (lap time as a percentage of total race time) per lap and by analyzing Kendall tau-b correlations between intermediate positioning and final ranking. Results: The velocity distribution over the race differed between all age groups, explicitly during the first 4 laps (U17: 7.68% [0.80%], U19: 7.77% [0.81%], U21: 7.82% [0.81%], and senior: 7.80% [0.82%]) and laps 12, 13, and 14 (U17: 6.92% [0.14%], U19: 6.83% [0.13%], U21: 6.79% [0.14%], and senior: 6.69% [0.12%]). In all age groups, a difference in velocity distribution was found between the sexes and between finalists and nonfinalists. Positioning data demonstrated that youth skaters showed a higher correlation between intermediate position and final ranking in laps 10, 11, and 12 than seniors. Conclusions: Youth skaters displayed less conservative pacing behavior than seniors. The pacing behavior of youths, expressed in relative section times and positioning, changed throughout adolescence and came to resemble that of seniors. Pacing behavior and adequately responding to environmental cues in competition could therefore be seen as a self-regulatory skill that is under development throughout adolescence.

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João Valente-dos-Santos, Manuel J. Coelho-e-Silva, Filipe Simões, Antonio J. Figueiredo, Neiva Leite, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Robert M. Malina and Lauren Sherar

This study evaluates the contributions of age, growth, skeletal maturation, playing position and training to longitudinal changes in functional and skill performance in male youth soccer. Players were annually followed over 5 years (n = 83, 4.4 measurements per player). Composite scores for functional and skill domains were calculated to provide an overall estimate of performance. Players were also classified by maturity status and playing position at baseline. After testing for multicollinearity, two-level multilevel (longitudinal) regression models were obtained for functional and skill composite scores. The scores improved with age and training. Body mass was an additional predictor in both models [functional (late maturing): 13.48 + 1.05 × centered on chronological age (CA)—0.01 × centered CA2—0.19 × fat mass (FM) + 0.004 × annual volume training—1.04 × dribbling speed; skills (defenders): 7.62 + 0.62 × centered CA—0.06 × centered CA2 + 0.04 × fat-free mass—0.03 × FM + 0.005 × annual volume training—0.19 × repeated-sprint ability + 0.02 × aerobic endurance]. Skeletal maturity status was a significant predictor of functional capacities and playing position of skill performance. Sound accuracy of each multilevel model was demonstrated on an independent cross-sectional sample (n = 52).