Static stretching (SS) is widely used in warm-ups before training and competition. A growing amount of research, however, has demonstrated that SS can impair muscle performance, leading to a reevaluation of optimal warm-up protocols. This commentary discusses many of the methodological issues that can influence conclusions about the acute effects of SS on performance. One difficulty in interpreting the literature is the lack of control or communication about the volume and intensity of the various stretching treatments used. Another major issue is the failure of many researchers to evaluate SS as it is used in practice, particularly the interaction with the other general and sport-specific components of the warm-up. Acute warm-up effects on performance should be considered in conjunction with potential effects on injury prevention. Future directions in research include optimizing general and sport-specific warm-ups, time course of physiological and performance effects, and individualization of warm-ups according to fitness and skill level.
Warren B. Young
The purposes of this review are to identify the factors that contribute to the transference of strength and power training to sports performance and to provide resistance-training guidelines. Using sprinting performance as an example, exercises involving bilateral contractions of the leg muscles resulting in vertical movement, such as squats and jump squats, have minimal transfer to performance. However, plyometric training, including unilateral exercises and horizontal movement of the whole body, elicits significant increases in sprint acceleration performance, thus highlighting the importance of movement pattern and contraction velocity specificity. Relatively large gains in power output in nonspecific movements (intramuscular coordination) can be accompanied by small changes in sprint performance. Research on neural adaptations to resistance training indicates that intermuscular coordination is an important component in achieving transfer to sports skills. Although the specificity of resistance training is important, general strength training is potentially useful for the purposes of increasing body mass, decreasing the risk of soft-tissue injuries, and developing core stability. Hypertrophy and general power exercises can enhance sports performance, but optimal transfer from training also requires a specific exercise program.
Warren Young, Stuart Cormack, and Michael Crichton
The main purpose of this study was to determine the relationships between countermovement jump (CMJ) variables and acceleration and maximum speed performance.
Twenty-three elite Australian football players were tested on a CMJ, which yielded several kinematic and kinetic variables describing leg muscle function. A 40 m sprint was also conducted to assess acceleration (10 m time) and an estimate of maximum speed (fying 20 m time). Players from one Australian Football League (AFL) club were tested and Pearson correlations for CMJ variables and sprint performance were calculated.
Jump height, peak velocity, peak force, and peak power had less than 50% common variance, and therefore represented independent expressions of CMJ performance. Generally, the correlations between CMJ variables and sprinting performance were stronger for maximum speed (small to large effect sizes) than for acceleration (trivial to moderate sizes). The variable that produced the strongest correlation with acceleration was jump height (r = -0.430, P = .041) and with maximum speed was peak power/weight (r = -0.649, P = .001).
The results indicate that if an integrated system comprising a position transducer and a force platform is available for CMJ assessment, jump height and peak power/weight are useful variables to describe leg muscle explosive function for athletes who perform sprints.
Dale Bickham, Warren Young, and Peter Blanch
To determine the relationship between lumbopelvic (LP) stabilization strength and pelvic motion during running.
Runners were assessed for pelvic motion and undertook an LP stabilization strength test.
Sixteen elite male middle- and long-distance runners.
Pelvis kinematics were assessed while subjects ran at 5 m/s on a treadmill.
Main Outcome Measures:
Angular pelvis displacement was divided into 3 axes of rotation: pelvic tilt, obliquity, and rotation. LP stabilization strength was the capacity to resist increasing static loads applied to each leg and maintain a neutral LP zone. Intercorrelations were calculated for all measures of pelvic motion and LP stabilization strength.
There were no significant relationships found among any of the variables (P > .05). However, the LP stabilization strength test possessed good interday reliability.
The relationship between pelvic motion and muscle function should be studied under a variety of other conditions.
Simon A. Feros, Warren B. Young, and Brendan J. O’Brien
Objectives: To evaluate the reliability and sensitivity of performance measures in a novel pace-bowling test. Methods: Thirteen male amateur-club fast bowlers completed a novel pace-bowling test on 2 separate occasions, 4–7 d apart. Participants delivered 48 balls (8 overs) at 5 targets on a suspended sheet situated behind a live batter, who stood in a right-handed and left-handed stance for an equal number of deliveries. Delivery instruction was frequently changed, with all deliveries executed in a preplanned sequence. Data on ball-release speed were captured by radar gun. A high-speed camera captured the moment of ball impact on the target sheet for assessment of radial error and bivariate variable error. Delivery rating of perceived exertion (0–100%) was collected as a measure of intensity. Results: Intraclass correlation coefficients and coefficients of variation revealed excellent reliability for peak and mean ball-release speed, acceptable reliability for delivery rating of perceived exertion, and poor reliability for mean radial error, bivariate variable error, and variability of ball-release speed. The smallest worthwhile change indicated high sensitivity with peak and mean ball-release speed and lower sensitivity with mean radial error and bivariate variable error. Conclusions: The novel pace-bowling test incorporates improvements in ecological validity compared with its predecessors and can be used to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of pace-bowling performance. Data on the smallest worthwhile change can improve interpretation of pace-bowling research findings and may therefore influence recommendations for applied practice.
Greg Henry, Brian Dawson, Brendan Lay, and Warren Young
To study the validity of a video-based reactive agility test in Australian footballers.
15 higher performance, 15 lower performance, and 12 nonfootballers completed a light-based reactive agility test (LRAT), a video-based reactive agility test (VRAT), and a planned test (PLAN).
With skill groups pooled, agility time in PLAN (1346 ± 66 ms) was significantly faster (P = .001) than both reactive tests (VRAT = 1550 ± 102 ms; LRAT = 1572 ± 97 ms). In addition, decision time was significantly faster (P = .001; d = 0.8) in LRAT (278 ± 36 ms) than VRAT (311 ± 47 ms). The correlation in agility time between the two reactive tests (r = .75) was higher than between the planned and reactive tests (r = .41–.68). Higher performance players had faster agility and movement times on VRAT (agility, 130 ± 24 ms, d = 1.27, P = .004; movement, 69 ± 73 ms, d = 0.88, P = .1) and LRAT (agility, 95 ± 86 ms, d = 0.99, P = .08; movement, 79 ± 74 ms; d = 0.9; P = .08) than the nonfootballers. In addition, higher (55 ± 39 ms, d = 0.87, P = .05) and lower (40 ± 57 ms, d = 0.74, P = .18) performance groups exhibited somewhat faster agility time than nonfootballers on PLAN. Furthermore, higher performance players were somewhat faster than lower performance for agility time on the VRAT (63 ± 85 ms, d = 0.82, P = .16) and decision time on the LRAT (20 ± 39 ms, d = 0.66, P = .21), but there was little difference in PLAN agility time between these groups (15 ± 150 ms, d = 0.24, P = .8).
Differences in decision-making speed indicate that the sport-specific nature of the VRAT is not duplicated by a light-based stimulus. In addition, the VRAT is somewhat better able to discriminate different groups of Australian footballers than the LRAT. Collectively, this indicates that a video-based test is a more valid assessment tool for examining agility in Australian footballers.
Michael J. Davies, Warren Young, Damian Farrow, and Andrew Bahnert
To compare the agility demands of 4 small-sided games (SSGs) and evaluate the variability in demands for elite Australian Football (AF).
Fourteen male elite Australian Football League (AFL) players (mean ± SD; 21.7 ± 3.1 y, 189.6 ± 9.0 cm, 88.7 ± 10.0 kg, 39.4 ± 57.1 games) completed 4 SSGs of 3 × 45-s bouts each with modified designs. Video notational analysis, GPS at 5 Hz, and triaxial accelerometer data expressed the external player loads within games. Three comparisons were made using a paired t test (P < .05), and magnitudes of differences were reported with effect size (ES) statistics.
Reduced area per player (increased density) produced a small increase in total agility maneuvers (SSG1, 7.2 ± 1.3; SSG2, 8.8 ± 4.1), while a large 2D player load was accumulated (P < .05, ES = 1.22). A reduction in players produced a moderate (ES = 0.60) total number of agility maneuvers (SSG 3, 11.3 ± 6.1; SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6); however, a greater variability was found. The implementation of a 2-handed-tag rule resulted in a somewhat trivial decline (P > .05, ES = 0.16) in agility events compared with normal AFL tackling rules (SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6; SSG 4, 7.8 ± 2.6).
SSG characteristics can influence agility-training demand, which can vary considerably for individuals. Coaches should carefully consider SSG design to maximize the potential to develop agility for all players.
Simon A. Feros, Warren B. Young, and Brendan J. O’Brien
Objectives: To evaluate the current evidence regarding the quantification of cricket fast-bowling skill. Methods: Studies that assessed fast-bowling skill (bowling speed and accuracy) were identified from searches in SPORTDiscus (EBSCO) in June 2017. The reference lists of identified papers were also examined for relevant investigations. Results: A total of 16 papers matched the inclusion criteria, and discrepancies in assessment procedures were evident. Differences in test environment, pitch, and cricket ball characteristics; the warm-up prior to test; test familiarization procedures; permitted run-up lengths; bowling spell length; delivery sequence; test instructions; collection of bowling speed data; and collection and reportage of bowling accuracy data were apparent throughout the literature. The reliability and sensitivity of fast-bowling skill measures have rarely been reported across the literature. Only 1 study has attempted to assess the construct validity of its skill measures. Conclusions: There are several discrepancies in how fast-bowling skill has been assessed and subsequently quantified in the literature to date. This is a problem, because comparisons between studies are often difficult. Therefore, a strong rationale exists for the creation of match-specific standardized fast-bowling assessments that offer greater ecological validity while maintaining acceptable reliability and sensitivity of the skill measures. If prospective research can act on the proposed recommendations from this review, then coaches will be able to make more informed decisions surrounding player selection, talent identification, return to skill following injury, and the efficacy of short- and long-term training interventions for fast bowlers.
Daniel J. Hornery, Damian Farrow, Iñigo Mujika, and Warren B. Young
To determine the effects of prolonged simulated tennis on performance and the ergogenic potential of caffeine, carbohydrates, and cooling.
Twelve highly trained male tennis players (age 18.3 ± 3.0 y, height 178.8 ± 8.5 cm, body mass 73.95 ± 12.30 kg, mean ± SD) performed 4 simulated matches (2 h 40 min) against a ball machine on an indoor hard court. The counterbalanced experimental trials involved caffeine supplementation (3 mg/kg), carbohydrate supplementation (6% solution), precooling and intermittent cooling, and placebo control. Physiological markers (core temperature, heart rate, blood lactate, and blood glucose), subjective responses (ratings of perceived exertion and thermal sensation), stroke velocity and accuracy, serve kinematics, and tennis-specific perceptual skill quantified the efficacy of interventions.
Significant effects of time (P < .01) reflected increased physiological demand, reduced serve velocity and ground-stroke velocity and accuracy, and a slowing of the serve racket-arm acceleration phase. Caffeine increased serve velocity (165 ± 15 km/h) in the final set of the match (P = .014) compared with placebo (159 ± 15 km/h, P = .008) and carbohydrate (158 ± 13 km/h, P = .001) conditions. Carbohydrate and cooling conditions afforded physiological advantage (increased blood glucose, P < .01, and reduced preexercise thermal sensation, P < .01) but did not affect performance relative to the placebo condition.
Prolonged simulated tennis induced significant decrements in tennis skills. Caffeine supplementation partly attenuated the effects of fatigue and increased serve velocity. In contrast, carbohydrate and cooling strategies had little ergogenic effect on tennis performance.
Warren Young, Peter Clothier, Leonie Otago, Lyndell Bruce, and David Liddell
Flexibility tests are sometimes thought to be related to range of motion in dynamic activities, but such a relationship remains to be determined.
To determine the correlation between flexibility and hip and knee angles in Australian football kicking.
16 Australian Rules football players.
Main Outcome Measures:
Hip and knee angles of the preferred kicking leg in a relaxed position were determined with a modified Thomas test. Maximum hip extension, the knee-flexion angle in this position, the maximum knee-flexion angle, and the hip angle at this position during the swing phase of maximum-effort drop-punt kicks were determined.
Significant correlations were found between hip flexibility and maximum hip extension (r = .65, P < .01) and hip angle at the maximum knee-flexion angle (r = .70, P < .01).
The data indicate a moderate association between hip flexibility and hip angles during kicking.