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Abigail Fisher, John J. Reilly, Colette Montgomery, Louise A. Kelly, Avril Williamson, Diane M. Jackson, James Y. Paton and Stanley Grant

This study examined whether there was a significant seasonal variation in objectively measured habitual physical activity and sedentary behavior in young children. Participants were children who attend nursery in Glasgow, Scotland, and measurements were taken using uniaxial accelerometry over 3 to 6 days. There were small but significant seasonal associations with physical activity and sedentary behavior (ANOVA: p < .001 in both cases). Total physical activity (accelerometry cpm) was significantly lower in spring than in summer, fall, and winter. We also found slight but significant seasonal variations in time spent in low-intensity activity and in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity. Sedentary time was significantly lower in summer vs. spring and in fall vs. spring. The present study suggests that seasonality plays only a limited role in physical activity and sedentary behavior in young children in our setting. Single measures of these variables should be adequate for research purposes in the absence of marked seasonal variability. In our sample and setting, the limited degree of seasonality precluded identification of major seasonal barriers to and opportunities for physical activity.

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Kathleen Williams, Lavon Williams and H. Scott Strohmeyer

This longitudinal investigation examined the shift from use of a marking time to an alternating stepping pattern by young children. A set of twin males was videotaped between ages 37 and 46 months climbing stairs of 3.8-17.8 cm height. One boy began to alternate consistently on the highest steps at 41 months, the other at 46 months. Anthropometries (leg lengths) and a measure of foot overshoot (maximum height of the foot over the stair) were used to investigate the timing of the shift for the 2 boys. Magnitude of overshoot decreased with age and with increased use of the more advanced pattern. Immature balance and an initial need to visually guide the foot to the next step may be important factors in the timing of the pattern shift.

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Michelle McCalpin, Blair Evans and Jean Côté

Competitive engineering is a process whereby sport organizations modify the rules, facilities, and equipment involved in sport to facilitate desirable athlete outcomes and experiences. Competitive engineering is being increasingly adopted by youth sport organizations with empirical evidence positively supporting its influence on skill development and performance. The purpose of this study was to explore young female athletes’ experiences in their modified soccer environment. Seventeen recreational and competitive soccer players, aged 8–11, participated in semistructured photo elicitation interviews that featured several visual qualitative methods (i.e., athlete-directed photography, drawing exercises, and pile-sorting) to facilitate insight on their sport environments. Results revealed that the athletes’ competitively engineered soccer experience was perceived as being a distinct environment that emphasized personal development, positive relationships, and the underlying enjoyment of sport. These findings shed light of how youth sport structure modifications influence the athletes’ experiences, providing practical implications to further promote positive youth sport experiences.

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Mary Jo MacCracken and Robert E. Stadulis

Dynamic balance performance of young children (ages 4, 6, and 8) was assessed in three social situations: alone (only with tester present); coaction (one other child performing at the same time); and spectators (five other observer children present). Within each age and gender, children (N = 120) were classified as of higher or lower comparative skill. Each balance task performed (walking forward and backward on a line, a narrow beam or a wide beam) was classified as representing easier or more difficult tasks for each child individually. Findings (p ≤ .05) indicated that the facilitation effects of social situations strengthened over age, with spectators producing increments in performance for children of higher skill (especially boys) and decrements in performance for the lower skilled children (both boys and girls). Coaction resulted in positive effects regardless of skill level.

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Tara K. Scanlan and Michael W. Passer

Identification of factors influencing expectancies of successful performance in competitive youth sports is important to understanding the way in which children perceive and respond to this evaluative achievement situation. Therefore, in this field study involving 10- to 12-year-old female soccer players, intrapersonal factors affecting players' pregame personal performance expectancies were first identified. Soccer ability and self-esteem were found to be related to personal performance expectancies, but competitive trait anxiety was not Second, the impact of game outcome, the previously mentioned intrapersonal variables, and the interaction of game outcome and intrapersonal variables was examined by determining players' postgame team expectancies in a hypothetical rematch with the same opponent. The postgame findings showed that winning players evidenced higher team expectancies than tying and losing players. Moreover, the expectancies of tying players were low and, in fact, similar to those of losers. The results of this study successfully replicated and extended previous findings with young male athletes.

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William G. Thorland, Glen O. Johnson, Craig J. Cisar, Terry J. Housh and Gerald D. Tharp

This study assessed strength and muscular power of elite young male runners in order to determine the relationship of these characteristics to age and specialization in either sprint or middle distance events. Forty-eight national junior-level sprint and middle distance runners were evaluated for isokinetic peak torque for leg extension as well as muscular power and fatiguability. Peak torque values were greater for the older runners and for the sprinters when measured at higher velocities. However, when adjusted for body weight, the peak torque values of the sprinters became significantly greater at all testing velocities. Muscular power values were also greater for the older runners, but event-related differences only appeared for peak power and mean power measures (being greater in the sprinters).

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Melissa Hodge, Mary Hovinga, Kelley Gabriel, Linda Snetselaar, John Shepherd, Linda Van Horn, Victor Stevens, Brian Egleston, Alan Robson, Seungyoun Jung and Joanne Dorgan

This study prospectively investigates associations between youth moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) and body composition in young adult women using data from the Dietary Intervention Study in Children (DISC) and the DISC06 Follow-Up Study. MVPA was assessed by questionnaire on 5 occasions between the ages 8 and 18 years and at age 25-29 years in 215 DISC female participants. Using whole body dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), overall adiposity and body fat distribution were assessed at age 25-29 years by percent body fat (%fat) and android-to-gynoid (A:G) fat ratio, respectively. Linear mixed effects models and generalized linear latent and mixed models were used to assess associations of youth MVPA with both outcomes. Young adult MVPA, adjusted for other young adult characteristics, was significantly inversely associated with young adult %fat (%fat decreased from 37.4% in the lowest MVPA quartile to 32.8% in the highest (p-trend = 0.02)). Adjusted for youth and young adult characteristics including young adult MVPA, youth MVPA also was significantly inversely associated with young adult %fat (β=-0.40 per 10 MET-hrs/wk, p = .02) . No significant associations between MVPA and A:G fat ratio were observed. Results suggest that youth and young adult MVPA are important independent predictors of adiposity in young women.

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Guellich Arne, Seiler Stephen and Emrich Eike

Purpose:

To describe the distribution of exercise types and rowing intensity in successful junior rowers and its relation to later senior success.

Methods:

36 young German male rowers (31 international, 5 national junior finalists; 19.2 ± 1.4 y; 10.9 ± 1.6 training sessions per week) reported the volumes of defined exercise and intensity categories in a diary over 37 wk. Training categories were analyzed as aggregates over the whole season and also broken down into defined training periods. Training organization was compared between juniors who attained national and international senior success 3 y later.

Results:

Total training time consisted of 52% rowing, 23% resistance exercise, 17% alternative training, and 8% warm-up programs. Based on heart rate control, 95% of total rowing was performed at intensities corresponding to <2 mmol·L-1, 2% at 2 to 4 mmol·L-1, and 3% at >4 mmol·L-1 blood lactate. Low-intensity work remained widely unchanged at ~95% throughout the season. In the competition period, the athletes exhibited a shift within <2 mmol exercise toward lower intensity and within the remaining ~5% of total rowing toward more training near maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) intensity. Retrospectively, among subjects going on to international success 3 y later had their training differed significantly from their peers only in slightly higher volumes at both margins of the intensity scope.

Conclusion:

The young world-class rowers monitored here exhibit a constant emphasis on low-intensity steady-state rowing exercise, and a progressive polarization in the competition period. Possible mechanisms underlying a potential association between intensity polarization and later success require further investigation.

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Søren E. Larsen, Henrik S. Hansen, Karsten Froberg and Jens Rokkedal Nielsen

This study investigated a group of young elite cyclists at the age of 19–20 years. The cardiac characteristics, left ventricular function and structure, after long-term and high intensity endurance training, were examined by echocardiography during resting conditions. In comparison with an age-matched control group, the elite cyclists had significantly lower systolic blood pressure, heart rate, and total body fat and a significantly higher physical fitness. Left ventricular mass, left ventricular mass indexed for differences in body size, and both systolic and diastolic dimensions of the left ventricle were increased significantly in the elite cyclist group. No significant difference was found in left ventricular function. Left ventricular diastolic function was examined (E/A-ratio, E = early passive, A = late active, atriale induced transmitral diastolic flow) and showed no significant difference between the two groups in spite of the structural changes observed in the left ventricular structure. We conclude that structural but not functional cardiac changes can be observed in elite cyclists when examined during resting conditions.

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Tara K. Scanlan and MichaeI W. Passer

This field study examined the intrapersonal and situational factors related to the stress experienced by 10- to 12-year-old girls participating in competitive youth soccer. Factors potentially related to competitive stress were assessed at preseason, midseason, pregame, and postgame periods. Competitive stress, measured by the Spielberger State Anxiety Inventory for Children, was assessed 30 min. prior to and immediately following a competitive game. Results indicated that higher pregame stress was related to high competitive trait anxiety and basal state anxiety as well as low self-esteem and team performance expectancies. The situational factor of game outcome (win, tie, loss) was the predominant variable associated with stress exhibited after the game, with losers evidencing the highest and winners the lowest postgame stress. The most important intrapersonal factor related to postgame stress was the amount of fun experienced during the game. The findings were quite similar to previous field research with young male soccer players, indicating that both sexes seem to share common sources of stress.