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Jocelyn K. Mara, Kevin G. Thompson and Kate L. Pumpa

Purpose:

To investigate the physical and physiological response to different formats of various-sided games.

Methods:

Eighteen elite women’s soccer players wore 15-Hz global positioning system devices and heart-rate (HR) monitors during various-sided games (small, 4 vs 4 and 5 vs 5; medium, 6 vs 6 and 7 vs 7; large, 8 vs 8 and 9 vs 9).

Results:

Players covered more relative sprinting distance during large-sided games than in small-sided (P < .001, d = 0.69) and medium-sided (P < .001, d = 0.54) games. In addition, a greater proportion of total acceleration efforts that had a commencement velocity <1 m/s were observed in small-sided games (44.7% ± 5.5%) than in large-sided games (36.7% ± 10.6%) (P = .018, d = 0.94). This was accompanied by a greater proportion of acceleration efforts with a final velocity equivalent to the sprint threshold in large-sided games (15.4% ± 7.7%) than in small-sided games (5.2% ± 2.5%) (P < .001, d = 1.78). The proportion of time spent in HR zone 4 (>85% maximum HR) was greater during small-sided games (69.8% ± 2.5%) than in medium- (62.1% ± 2.8%, d = 2.90) and large-sided games (54.9% ± 3.1%) (P < .001, d = 5.29).

Conclusions:

The results from this study demonstrate that coaches can use small-sided games as an aerobic conditioning stimulus and to develop players’ explosiveness and repeat-sprint ability over short durations. Large-sided games can be used to maintain aerobic capacity and develop maximum speed over longer distances.

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Rob Duffield, Monique King and Melissa Skein

Purpose:

This study investigated the effects of hot conditions on the acute recovery of voluntary and evoked muscle performance and physiological responses following intermittent exercise.

Methods:

Seven youth male and six female team-sport athletes performed two sessions separated by 7 d, involving a 30-min exercise protocol and 60-min passive recovery in either 22°C or 33°C and 40% relative humidity. The exercise protocol involved a 20-s maximal sprint every 5 min, separated by constant-intensity exercise at 100 W on a cycle ergometer. Maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and a resting evoked twitch (Pf) of the right knee extensors were assessed before and immediately following exercise and again 15, 30, and 60 min post exercise, and capillary blood was obtained at the same time points to measure lactate, pH, and HCO3. During and following exercise, core temperature, heart rate and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were also measured.

Results:

No differences (P = 0.73 to 0.95) in peak power during repeated sprints were present between conditions. Post exercise MVC was reduced (P < .05) in both conditions and a moderate effect size (d = 0.60) indicated a slower percentage MVC recovered by 60 min in the heat (83 ± 10 vs 74 ± 11% recovered). Both heart rate and core temperature were significantly higher (P < .05) during recovery in the heat. Capillary blood values did not differ between conditions at any time point, whereas sessional RPE was higher 60 min post exercise in the heat.

Conclusions:

The current data suggests that passive recovery in warm temperatures not only delays cardiovascular and thermal recovery, but may also slow the recovery of MVC and RPE.

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Pedro Figueiredo, Renata Willig, Francisco Alves, João Paulo Vilas-Boas and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Purpose:

To examine the effect of swimming speed (v) on the biomechanical and physiological responses of a trained front-crawl swimmer with a unilateral arm amputation.

Methods:

A 13-y-old girl with a unilateral arm amputation (level of the elbow) was tested for stroke length (SL, horizontal displacement cover with each stroke cycle), stroke frequency (SF, inverse of the time to complete each stroke cycle), adapted index of coordination (IdCadapt, lag time between propulsive phases), intracycle velocity variation (IVV, coefficient of variation of the instantaneous velocity–time data), active drag (D, hydrodynamic resistance), and energy cost (C, ratio of metabolic power to speed) during trials of increasing v.

Results:

Swimmer data showed a positive relationship between v and SF (R 2 = 1, P < .001), IVV (R 2 = .98, P = .002), D (R 2 = .98, P < .001), and C (R 2 = .95, P = .001) and a negative relationship with the SL (R 2 = .99, P = .001). No relation was found between v and IdCadapt (R 2 = .35, P = .22). A quadratic regression best fitted the relationship between v and general kinematical parameters (SL and SF); a cubic relationship fit the IVV best. The relationship between v and D was best expressed by a power regression, and the linear regression fit the C and IdCadapt best.

Conclusions:

The subject’s adaptation to increased v was different from able-bodied swimmers, mainly on interarm coordination, maintaining the lag time between propulsive phases, which influence the magnitude of the other parameters. These results might be useful to develop specific training and enhance swimming performance in swimmers with amputations.

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Sara Dean, Andrea Braakhuis and Carl Paton

Researchers have long been investigating strategies that can increase athletes’ ability to oxidize fatty acids and spare carbohydrate, thus potentially improving endurance capacity. Green-tea extract (epigallocatechin-3-gallate; EGCG) has been shown to improve endurance capacity in mice. If a green-tea extract can stimulate fat oxidation and as a result spare glycogen stores, then athletes may benefit through improved endurance performance. Eight male cyclists completed a study incorporating a 3-way crossover, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, diet-controlled research design. All participants received 3 different treatments (placebo 270 mg, EGCG 270 mg, and placebo 270 mg + caffeine 3 mg/kg) over a 6-day period and 1 hr before exercise testing. Each participant completed 3 exercise trials consisting of 60 min of cycling at 60% maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max) immediately followed by a self-paced 40-km cycling time trial. The study found little benefit in consuming green-tea extract on fat oxidation or cycling performance, unlike caffeine, which did benefit cycling performance. The physiological responses observed during submaximal cycling after caffeine ingestion were similar to those reported previously, including an increase in heart rate (EGCG 147 ± 17, caffeine 146 ± 19, and placebo 144 ± 15 beats/min), glucose at the 40-min exercise time point (placebo 5.0 ± 0.8, EGCG 5.4 ± 1.0, and caffeine 5.8 ± 1.0 mmol/L), and resting plasma free fatty acids and no change in the amount of carbohydrate and fat being oxidized. Therefore, it was concluded that green-tea extract offers no additional benefit to cyclists over and above those achieved by using caffeine.

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Thomas Zochowski, Elizabeth Johnson and Gordon G. Sleivert

Context:

Warm-up before athletic competition might enhance performance by affecting various physiological parameters. There are few quantitative data available on physiological responses to the warm-up, and the data that have been reported are inconclusive. Similarly, it has been suggested that varying the recovery period after a standardized warm-up might affect subsequent performance.

Purpose:

To determine the effects of varying post-warm-up recovery time on a subsequent 200-m swimming time trial.

Methods:

Ten national-caliber swimmers (5 male, 5 female) each swam a 1500-m warm-up and performed a 200-m time trial of their specialty stroke after either 10 or 45 min of passive recovery. Subjects completed 1 time trial in each condition separated by 1 wk in a counterbalanced order. Blood lactate and heart rate were measured immediately after warm-up and 3 min before, immediately after, and 3 min after the time trial. Rating of perceived exertion was measured immediately after the warm-up and time trial.

Results:

Time-trial performance was significantly improved after 10 min as opposed to 45 min recovery (136.80 ± 20.38 s vs 138.69 ± 20.32 s, P < .05). There were no significant differences between conditions for heart rate and blood lactate after the warm-up. Pre-time-trial heart rate, however, was higher in the 10-min than in the 45-min rest condition (109 ± 14 beats/min vs 94 ± 21 beats/min, P < .05).

Conclusions:

A post-warm-up recovery time of 10 min rather than 45 min is more beneficial to 200-m swimming time-trial performance.

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Sonya L. Cameron, Rebecca T. McLay-Cooke, Rachel C. Brown, Andrew R. Gray and Kirsty A. Fairbairn

Purpose:

This study investigated the effect of ingesting 0.3 g/kg body weight (BW) of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on physiological responses, gastrointestinal (GI) tolerability, and sprint performance in elite rugby union players.

Methods:

Twenty-five male rugby players, age 21.6 (2.6) yr, participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Sixty-five minutes after consuming 0.3 g/kg BW of either NaHCO3 or placebo, participants completed a 25-min warm-up followed by 9 min of high-intensity rugby-specific training followed by a rugby-specific repeated-sprint test (RSRST). Whole-blood samples were collected to determine lactate and bicarbonate concentrations and pH at baseline, after supplement ingestion, and immediately after the RSRST. Acute GI discomfort was assessed by questionnaire throughout the trials, and chronic GI discomfort was assessed during the 24 hr postingestion.

Results:

After supplement ingestion and immediately after the RSRST, blood HCO3 concentration and pH were higher for the NaHCO3 condition than for the placebo condition (p < .001). After the RSRST, blood lactate concentrations were significantly higher for the NaHCO3 than for the placebo condition (p < .001). There was no difference in performance on the RSRST between the 2 conditions. The incidence of belching, stomachache, diarrhea, stomach bloating, and nausea was higher after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (all p < .050). The severity of stomach cramps, belching, stomachache, bowel urgency, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach bloating, and flatulence was rated worse after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (p < .050).

Conclusions:

NaHCO3 supplementation increased blood HCO3 concentration and attenuated the decline in blood pH compared with placebo during high-intensity exercise in well-trained rugby players but did not significantly improve exercise performance. The higher incidence and greater severity of GI symptoms after ingestion of NaHCO3 may negatively affect physical performance, and the authors strongly recommend testing this supplement during training before use in competitive situations.

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Carlo Castagna, Lorenzo Francini, Susana C.A. Póvoas and Stefano D’Ottavio

Purpose:

To examine the acute effects of generic drills (running drills [RDs]) and specific (small-sided-games [SSGs]) long-sprint-ability (LSA) drills on internal and external load of male soccer players.

Methods:

Fourteen academy-level soccer players (mean ± SD age 17.6 ± 0.61 y, height 1.81 ± 0.63 m, body mass 69.53 ± 4.65 kg) performed four 30-s LSA bouts for maintenance (work:rest 1:2) and production (1:5) with RDs and SSGs. Players’ external load was tracked with GPS technology (20-Hz), and heart rate (HR), blood lactate concentration (BLc), and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were used to characterize players’ internal load. Individual peak BLc was assessed with a 30-s all-out test on a nonmotorized treadmill (NMT).

Results:

Compared with SSGs, the RDs had a greater effect on external load and BLc (large and small, respectively). During SSGs players covered more distance with high-intensity decelerations (moderate to small). Muscular RPE was higher (small to large) in RDs than in SSGs. The production mode exerted a moderate effect on BLc while the maintenance condition elicited higher cardiovascular effects (small to large).

Conclusion:

The results of this study showed the superiority of generic over specific drills in inducing LSA-related physiological responses. In this regard production RDs showed the higher postexercise BLc. Individual peak blood lactate responses were found after the NMT 30-s all-out test, suggesting this drill as a valid option to RDs. The practical physiological diversity among the generic and specific LSA drills here considered enable fitness trainers to modulate prescription of RD and SSG drills for LSA according to training schedule.

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Thomas W. Buford, Douglas B. Smith, Matthew S. O’Brien, Aric J. Warren and Stephen J. Rossi

Purpose:

The purpose of the present investigation was to examine the physiological response of collegiate wrestlers to their competitive season.

Methods:

Eleven Division I collegiate wrestlers (mean ± SD; 19.45 ± 1.13 y) volunteered and completed 4 testing sessions throughout the course of the collegiate wrestling season. Testing sessions were conducted pre-, mid-, and postseason, as well as before the national tournament. Testing consisted of weigh-in, skinfold body composition testing, and a 50-rep concentric, isokinetic leg extension muscle endurance test (180°/s). Muscular performance variables measured included peak torque, peak torque at fatigue, percent decline, and peak torque/body mass ratio.

Results:

A significant increase (P < .05) of 2.9% was observed for body mass between midseason and postseason (2.38 kg). From pre- to postseason, a mean increase of 3.8% (3.1 kg) was observed for body mass. An increase (P < .05) in BF% of 2.9% was observed between prenationals and postseason. No significant differences (P > .05) were observed between consecutive time points for quadriceps peak torque; however, there was a significant increase (P < .05) between preseason and prenationals (23.39 N·m). Peak torque at fatigue was greater (P < .05) at midseason than preseason, representing an increase of 9.82 N·m. Between midseason and prenationals testing, we observed an 11% increase (P < .05) in %DCLN. Finally, we noted an increase (P < .05) from 0.6 to 0.69 in peak torque/body mass ratio between preseason and prenationals.

Conclusions:

Our results indicate that while force values seem to suffer at midseason, the wrestlers compensated and were strongest just before their national competition.

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Kerry McGawley and Hans-Christer Holmberg

Purpose:

Cross-country-ski races place complex demands on athletes, with events lasting between approximately 3 min and 2 h. The aim of the current study was to compare the aerobic and anaerobic measures derived from a short time trial (TT) between male and female skiers using diagonal cross-country skiing.

Methods:

Twenty-four highly trained cross-country skiers (12 male and 12 female, age 17.4 ± 1.4 y, body mass 68.2 ± 8.9 kg, height 174 ± 8 cm) participated. The submaximal VO2–speed relationship and VO2max were derived from an incremental ramp test to exhaustion (RAMP), while the accumulated oxygen deficit (AOD), peak VO2, and performance time were measured during a 600-m TT.

Results:

The female skiers took longer to complete the TT than the males (209 ± 9 s vs 166 ± 7 s, P < .001) and exhibited a lower relative anaerobic contribution (20% ± 4% vs 24% ± 3%, P = .015) and a higher fractional utilization of VO2max (84% ± 4% vs 79% ± 5%, P = .007) than males. Although there was no significant difference in AOD between the sexes (40.9 ± 9.5 and 47.3 ± 7.4 mL/kg for females and males, respectively; P = .079), the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 6.4 ± 6.0 mL/kg reflected a likely practical difference (ES = 0.72). The peak VO2 during the TT was significantly higher than VO2max during the RAMP for all participants combined (62.3 ± 6.8 vs 60.5 ± 7.2 mL · kg−1 · min−1, P = .011), and the mean difference ± 90% confidence intervals of 1.8 ± 1.1 mL · kg−1 · min−1 reflected a possible practical difference (ES = 0.25).

Conclusions:

These results show that performance and physiological responses to a self-paced TT lasting approximately 3 min differ between sexes. In addition, a TT may provide a valid measure of VO2max.

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Laura Capranica and Mindy L. Millard-Stafford

A prevailing theory (and practical application) is that elite performance requires early childhood skill development and training across various domains, including sport. Debate continues whether children specializing early (ie, training/competition in a single sport) have true advantage compared with those who sample various sports early and specialize in a single sport later (adolescence). Retrospective data and case studies suggest either model yields elite status depending upon the sport category (ie, situational: ball games, martial arts, fencing; quantitative: track and feld, swimming, skiing; or qualitative: gymnastics, diving, figure skating). However, potential risks of early specialization include greater attrition and adverse physical/emotional health outcomes. With the advent of the IOC Youth Olympic Games, increased emphasis on global youth competition has unknown implications but also represents a potential platform for investigation. Modification of youth competition formats should be based upon multidisciplinary research on psycho-physiological responses, and technical-tactical behaviors during competition. The assumption that a simple scaled-down approach of adult competitions facilitates the development of technical/tactical skills of youth athletes is not necessarily substantiated with field-based research. Relatively little evidence exists regarding the long-term effects of rigorous training and competitive schedules on children in specific sports. It is clear that more prospective studies are needed to understand the training dose that optimally develops adaptations in youth without inducing dropout, overtraining syndrome, and/or injury. Such an approach should be sport specific as well as gender based. Until such evidence exists, coaches and sport administrators will continue to rely upon their sport-specific dogma to influence programmatic development of our most vulnerable population.