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Alan D. Ruddock, Craig Boyd, Edward M. Winter and Mayur Ranchordas

Case studies are vehicles to bridge the gap between science and practice because they provide opportunities to blend observations and interventions that have taken place in real-world environments with scientific rigor. The purpose of this invited commentary is to present considerations for those providing applied sport science support to athletes with the intention of broadcasting this information to the scientific community. The authors present a 4-phased approach (1: athlete overview; 2: needs analysis; 3: intervention planning; and 4: results, evaluation, and conclusion) for scientific support to assist practitioners in the development and implementation of scientific support. These considerations are presented in the form of “performance questions” designed to guide and critically evaluate the scientific support process and aid the transfer of this knowledge through case studies.

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Mayur K. Ranchordas, Laurent Bannock and Scott L. Robinson

Professional soccer players are exposed to large amounts of physiological and psychological stress, which can increase infection risk and threaten availability for training and competition. Accordingly, it is important for practitioners to implement strategies that support player well-being and prevent illness. This case study demonstrates how a scientifically supported and practically applicable nutrition and lifestyle strategy can reduce infection incidence in an illness-prone professional soccer player. In the 3 months before the intervention, the player had 3 upper-respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and subsequently missed 3 competitive matches and 2 weeks’ training. He routinely commenced morning training sessions in the fasted state and was estimated to be in a large daily energy deficit. Throughout the 12-week intervention, the amount, composition, and timing of energy intake was altered, quercetin and vitamin D were supplemented, and the player was provided with a daily sleep and hygiene protocol. There was a positive increase in serum vitamin D 25(OH) concentration from baseline to Week 12 (53 n·mol-1 to 120 n·mol-1) and salivary immunoglobulin-A (98 mg·dl-1 to 135 mg·dl-1), as well as a decline in the number of URTI symptoms (1.8 ± 2.0 vs. 0.25 ± 0.5 for Weeks 0–4 and Weeks 8–12, respectively). More important, he maintained availability for all training and matches over the 12-week period. We offer this case study as a real-world applied example for other players and practitioners seeking to deploy nutrition and lifestyle strategies to reduce risk of illness and maximize player availability.

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Corbin Griffen, David Rogerson, Mayur Ranchordas and Alan Ruddock

This study investigated the effects of creatine and sodium bicarbonate coingestion on mechanical power during repeated sprints. Nine well-trained men (age = 21.6 ± 0.9 yr, stature = 1.82 ± 0.05 m, body mass = 80.1 ± 12.8 kg) participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, counterbalanced, crossover study using six 10-s repeated Wingate tests. Participants ingested either a placebo (0.5 g·kg−1 of maltodextrin), 20 g·d−1 of creatine monohydrate + placebo, 0.3 g·kg−1 of sodium bicarbonate + placebo, or coingestion + placebo for 7 days, with a 7-day washout between conditions. Participants were randomized into two groups with a differential counterbalanced order. Creatine conditions were ordered first and last. Indices of mechanical power output (W), total work (J) and fatigue index (W·s−1) were measured during each test and analyzed using the magnitude of differences between groups in relation to the smallest worthwhile change in performance. Compared with placebo, both creatine (effect size (ES) = 0.37-0.83) and sodium bicarbonate (ES = 0.22-0.46) reported meaningful improvements on indices of mechanical power output. Coingestion provided small meaningful improvements on indices of mechanical power output (W) compared with sodium bicarbonate (ES = 0.28-0.41), but not when compared with creatine (ES = -0.21-0.14). Coingestion provided a small meaningful improvement in total work (J; ES = 0.24) compared with creatine. Fatigue index (W·s−1) was impaired in all conditions compared with placebo. In conclusion, there was no meaningful additive effect of creatine and sodium bicarbonate coingestion on mechanical power during repeated sprints.

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Edward J. Smith, Ryan Storey and Mayur K. Ranchordas

Bouldering competitions are held up to International level and governed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Bouldering has been selected to feature at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, however, physiological qualities and nutritional requirements to optimize performance remain inadequately defined due to large gaps in the literature. The primary goals of training include optimizing the capacity of the anaerobic energy systems and developing sport-specific strength, with emphasis on the isometric function of the forearm flexors responsible for grip. Bouldering athletes typically possess a lean physique, similar to the characteristics of sport climbers with reported body fat values of 6–12%. Athletes strive for a low body weight to improve power to weight ratio and limit the load on the extremities. Specialized nutritional support is uncommon and poor nutritional practices such as chronic carbohydrate restriction are prevalent, compromising the health of the athletes. The high intensity nature of bouldering demands a focus on adequate carbohydrate availability. Protein intake and timing should be structured to maximize muscle protein synthesis and recovery, with the literature suggesting 0.25–0.3 g/kg in 3–4 hr intervals. Supplementing with creatine and b-alanine may provide some benefit by augmenting the capacity of the anaerobic systems. Boulderers are encouraged to seek advice from nutrition experts to enhance performance, particularly important when weight loss is the desired outcome. Further research is warranted across all nutritional aspects of bouldering which is summarized in this review.

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Mayur K. Ranchordas, George King, Mitchell Russell, Anthony Lynn and Mark Russell

The purpose of this study was to determine whether caffeinated gum influenced performance in a battery of soccer-specific tests used in the assessment of performance in soccer players. In a double-blind, randomized, crossover design, 10 male university-standard soccer players (age: 19 ± 1 years, stature: 1.80 ± 0.10 m, body mass: 75.5 ± 4.8 kg) masticated a caffeinated (200 mg; caffeine) or control (0 mg; placebo) gum on two separate occasions. After a standardized warm-up, gum was chewed for 5 min and subsequently expectorated 5 min before players performed a maximal countermovement jump, a 20-m sprint test, and the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1. Performance on 20-m sprints was not different between trials (caffeine: 3.2 ± 0.3 s, placebo: 3.1 ± 0.3 s; p = .567; small effect size: d = 0.33), but caffeine did allow players to cover 2.0% more distance during Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (caffeine: 1,754 ± 156 m, placebo: 1,719 ± 139 m; p = .016; small effect size: d = 0.24) and increase maximal countermovement jump height by 2.2% (caffeine: 47.1 ± 3.4 cm, placebo: 46.1 ± 3.2 cm; p = .008; small effect size: d = 0.30). Performance on selected physical tests (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 and countermovement jump) was improved by the chewing of caffeinated gum in the immediate period before testing in university-standard soccer players, but the sizes of such effects were small. Such findings may have implications for the recommendations made to soccer players about to engage with subsequent exercise performance.