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Raouf Hammami, Anis Chaouachi, Issam Makhlouf, Urs Granacher and David G. Behm

Balance, strength and power relationships may contain important information at various maturational stages to determine training priorities.

Purpose:

The objective was to examine maturity-specific relationships of static/dynamic balance with strength and power measures in young male athletes.

Methods:

Soccer players (N = 130) aged 10–16 were assessed with the Stork and Y balance (YBT) tests. Strength/power measures included back extensor muscle strength, standing long jump (SLJ), countermovement jump (CMJ), and 3-hop jump tests. Associations between balance with strength/power variables were calculated according to peak-height-velocity (PHV).

Results:

There were significant medium-large sized correlations between all balance measures with back extensor strength (r = .486–.791) and large associations with power (r = .511–.827). These correlation coefficients were significantly different between pre-PHV and circa PHV as well as pre-PHV and post-PHV with larger associations in the more mature groups. Irrespective of maturity-status, SLJ was the best strength/power predictor with the highest proportion of variance (12–47%) for balance (i.e., Stork eyes opened) and the YBT was the best balance predictor with the highest proportion of variance (43–78%) for all strength/power variables.

Conclusion:

The associations between balance and muscle strength/power measures in youth athletes that increase with maturity may imply transfer effects from balance to strength/power training and vice versa in youth athletes.

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Bruno Marrier, Yann Le Meur, Julien Robineau, Mathieu Lacome, Anthony Couderc, Christophe Hausswirth, Julien Piscione and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose:

To compare the sensitivity of a sprint vs a countermovement-jump (CMJ) test after an intense training session in international rugby sevens players, as well as analyze the effects of fatigue on sprint acceleration.

Methods:

Thirteen international rugby sevens players completed two 30-m sprints and a set of 4 repetitions of CMJ before and after a highly demanding rugby sevens training session.

Results:

Change in CMJ height was unclear (–3.6%; ±90% confidence limits 11.9%. Chances of a true positive/trivial/negative change: 24/10/66%), while a very likely small increase in 30-m sprint time was observed (1.0%; ±0.7%, 96/3/1%). A very likely small decrease in the maximum horizontal theoretical velocity (V0) (–2.4; ±1.8%, 1/4/95%) was observed. A very large correlation (r = –.79 ± .23) between the variations of V0 and 30-m-sprint performance was also observed. Changes in 30-m sprint time were negatively and very largely correlated with the distance covered above the maximal aerobic speed (r = –.71 ± .32).

Conclusions:

The CMJ test appears to be less sensitive than the sprint test, which casts doubts on the usefulness of a vertical-jump test in sports such as rugby that mainly involve horizontal motions. The decline in sprint performance relates more to a decrease in velocity than in force capability and is correlated with the distance covered at high intensity.

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Ingunn Fjørtoft

This article is a contribution to the experience of testing motor fitness and exploring the EUROFIT test in young children. In the age group 5–7 years, the motor fitness tests showed strong dependency on age and a small dependence on sex. Body weight and height did not appear to have any impact on the test variables for this age group. The reliability test showed significant difference between test and retest in the plate tapping test only. The reproducibility was low in bent arm hang and flamingo balance, with coefficients of variation of 67%. Modest validity of the flamingo balance test and the standing broad jump test was confirmed with correlations of 0.43 and 0.52, respectively, by laboratory testing on a force platform. Factor analyses extracted 3 components, which explained 62% of the total variance, but no single component could explain general motor fitness. The EUROFIT Motor Fitness Test appeared to be applicable also in young children, but the reproducibility of two test items was questionable. Modification of test items was suggested to fit this age group.

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Boyi Dai, Christopher J. Sorensen, Timothy R. Derrick and Jason C. Gillette

The effects of training on biomechanical risk factors for anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries have been investigated, but the effects of detraining have received little attention. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a one-month postseason break on knee biomechanics and lower extremity electromyography (EMG) during a stop-jump task. A postseason break is the phase between two seasons when no regular training routines are performed. Twelve NCAA female volleyball players participated in two stop-jump tests before and after the postseason break. Knee kinematics, kinetics, quadriceps EMG, and hamstring EMG were assessed. After one month of postseason break, the players demonstrated significantly decreased jump height, decreased initial knee flexion angle, decreased knee flexion angle at peak anterior tibial resultant force, decreased prelanding vastus lateralis EMG, and decreased prelanding biceps femoris EMG as compared with prebreak. No significant differences were observed for frontal plane biomechanics and quadriceps and hamstring landing EMG between prebreak and postbreak. Although it is still unknown whether internal ACL loading changes after a postseason break, the more extended knee movement pattern may present an increased risk factor for ACL injuries.

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Jay Hoffman, Nicholas Ratamess, Jie Kang, Gerald Mangine, Avery Faigenbaum and Jeffrey Stout

The effects of creatine and creatine plus β-alanine on strength, power, body composition, and endocrine changes were examined during a 10-wk resistance training program in collegiate football players. Thirty-three male subjects were randomly assigned to either a placebo (P), creatine (C), or creatine plus β-alanine (CA) group. During each testing session subjects were assessed for strength (maximum bench press and squat), power (Wingate anaerobic power test, 20-jump test), and body composition. Resting blood samples were analyzed for total testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, IGF-1, and sex hormone binding globulin. Changes in lean body mass and percent body fat were greater (P < 0.05) in CA compared to C or P. Significantly greater strength improvements were seen in CA and C compared to P. Resting testosterone concentrations were elevated in C, however, no other significant endocrine changes were noted. Results of this study demonstrate the efficacy of creatine and creatine plus β-alanine on strength performance. Creatine plus β-alanine supplementation appeared to have the greatest effect on lean tissue accruement and body fat composition.

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Micah Gross, Kathrin Bieri, Hans Hoppeler, Barbara Norman and Michael Vogt

Introduction:

Supplementation with beta-alanine may have positive effects on severe-intensity, intermittent, and isometric strength-endurance performance. These could be advantageous for competitive alpine skiers, whose races last 45 to 150 s, require metabolic power above the aerobic maximum, and involve isometric muscle work. Further, beta-alanine supplementation affects the muscle force-frequency relationship, which could influence explosiveness. We explored the effects of beta-alanine on explosive jump performance, severe exercise energy metabolism, and severe-intensity ski-like performance.

Methods:

Nine male elite alpine skiers consumed 4.8 g/d beta-alanine or placebo for 5 weeks in a double-blind fashion. Before and after, they performed countermovement jumps (CMJ), a 90-s cycling bout at 110% VO2max (CLT), and a maximal 90-s box jump test (BJ90).

Results:

Beta-alanine improved maximal (+7 ± 3%, d = 0.9) and mean CMJ power (+7 ± 2%, d = 0.7), tended to reduce oxygen deficit (-3 ± 8%, p = .06) and lactate accumulation (-12 ± 31%) and enhance aerobic energy contribution (+1.3 ± 2.9%, p = .07) in the CLT, and improved performance in the last third of BJ90 (+7 ± 4%, p = .02). These effects were not observed with placebo.

Conclusions:

Beta-alanine supplementation improved explosive and repeated jump performance in elite alpine skiers. Enhanced muscle contractility could possibly explain improved explosive and repeated jump performance. Increased aerobic energy production could possibly help explain repeated jump performance as well.

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Michael Fuchs, Oliver Faude, Melissa Wegmann and Tim Meyer

Purpose:

To overcome the limitations of traditional 1-dimensional fitness tests in analyzing physiological properties of badminton players, a badminton-specific endurance test (BST) was created. This study aimed at analyzing the influence of various fitness dimensions on BST performance.

Methods:

18 internationally competing male German badminton players (22.4 ± 3.2 y, 79.2 ± 7.7 kg, 1.84 ± 0.06 m, world-ranking position [WRP] 21–501) completed a straight-sprint test, a change-of-direction speed test, various jump tests (countermovement jump, drop jump, standing long jump), a multistage running test (MST), and the BST. During this on-court field test players have to respond to a computerized sign indicating direction and speed of badminton-specific movements by moving into the corresponding corners.

Results:

Significant correlations were found between performance in MST and BST (individual anaerobic threshold [IAT], r = .63, P = .005; maximum velocity [Vmax], r = .60, P = .009). A negative correlation (r = –.59, P = .014) was observed between IAT in BST and drop-jump contact time. No further associations between performance indices could be detected. Apart from a small portion explained by MST results (IAT, R 2 = .40; Vmax, R 2 = .36), the majority of BST performance cannot be explained by the determined physiological correlates. Moreover, it was impossible to predict the WRP of a player on the basis of BST results (r = –.15, P = .55).

Conclusions:

Neither discipline-specific performance nor basic physiological properties were appropriately reflected by a BST in elite badminton players. This does not substantiate its validity for regular use as a testing tool. However, it may be useful for monitoring on-court training sessions.

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Hyun Chul Jung, Myong Won Seo, Sukho Lee, Sung Woo Jung and Jong Kook Song

We investigated the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on physical performance during winter training in vitamin D insufficient taekwondo athletes. Thirty-five collegiate male and female taekwondo athletes, aged 19–22 years with low serum 25(OH)D concentration (28.8 ± 1.10 nmol/L), were randomly assigned to a vitamin D group (n = 20) or a placebo group (n = 15). Subjects received either a vitamin D3 capsule (5,000 IU/day) or a placebo during 4 weeks of winter training. Blood samples were collected for analyzing serum 25(OH)D concentration. Physical performance tests included Wingate anaerobic test, isokinetic muscle strength and endurance, a countermovement jump test, sit-ups, agility test, and 20-m pacer. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations increased significantly in the vitamin D group (96.0 ± 3.77 nmol/L) after 4 weeks of supplementation, but no changes were found in the placebo group (F = 242.44, p = .000). There were significant interaction effects for anaerobic peak power (F = 7.49, p = .010) and isokinetic knee extension at 180 deg/s (F = 6.08, p = .019). Changes in serum 25(OH)D concentration were positively associated with changes in peak power and isokinetic knee extension at 180 deg/s. However, no significant interaction effects were observed in other performance variables. This study suggests that 4 weeks of vitamin D supplementation elevates serum 25(OH)D concentration to sufficient levels. Correcting vitamin D insufficiency improves some but not all aspects of performance. Thus, efficacy of vitamin D supplementation to enhance performance remains unclear.

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Basilio Pueo, Patrycja Lipinska, José M. Jiménez-Olmedo, Piotr Zmijewski and Will G. Hopkins

Vertical-jump tests are commonly used to evaluate lower-limb power of athletes and nonathletes. Several types of equipment are available for this purpose.

Purpose:

To compare the error of measurement of 2 jump-mat systems (Chronojump-Boscosystem and Globus Ergo Tester) with that of a motion-capture system as a criterion and to determine the modifying effect of foot length on jump height.

Methods:

Thirty-one young adult men alternated 4 countermovement jumps with 4 squat jumps. Mean jump height and standard deviations representing technical error of measurement arising from each device and variability arising from the subjects themselves were estimated with a novel mixed model and evaluated via standardization and magnitude-based inference.

Results:

The jump-mat systems produced nearly identical measures of jump height (differences in means and in technical errors of measurement ≤1 mm). Countermovement and squat-jump height were both 13.6 cm higher with motion capture (90% confidence limits ±0.3 cm), but this very large difference was reduced to small unclear differences when adjusted to a foot length of zero. Variability in countermovement and squat-jump height arising from the subjects was small (1.1 and 1.5 cm, respectively, 90% confidence limits ±0.3 cm); technical error of motion capture was similar in magnitude (1.7 and 1.6 cm, ±0.3 and ±0.4 cm), and that of the jump mats was similar or smaller (1.2 and 0.3 cm, ±0.5 and ±0.9 cm).

Conclusions:

The jump-mat systems provide trustworthy measurements for monitoring changes in jump height. Foot length can explain the substantially higher jump height observed with motion capture.

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Jan Boone and Jan Bourgois

Purpose:

The current study aimed to gain insight into the physiological profile of elite basketball players in Belgium in relation to their position on the field.

Methods:

The group consisted of 144 players, divided into 5 groups according to position (point guards [PGs], shooting guards [SGs], small forwards [SFs], power forwards [PFs], and centers [Cs]). The anthropometrics were measured and the subjects underwent fitness tests (incremental running test, 10-m sprint, 5 ×-10 m, squat and countermovement jump, isokinetic test) to obtain insight into endurance, speed, agility, and power. The parameters of these tests were compared among the different positions by means of 1-way variance analysis (MANOVA). Tukey post hoc tests were performed in case of a significant MANOVA.

Results:

It was observed that Cs were taller and heavier and had a higher percentage body fat than PGs and SGs. For the anaerobic sprint test Cs were slower than the other positions. For the 5 × 10-m the PGs and SGs were faster than SFs and PFs. For the jump test Cs displayed a significantly lower absolute performance than the other positions. PGs and SGs had a higher VO2peak and speed at the anaerobic threshold than PFs and Cs. The isokinetic strength test showed that the quadriceps muscle group of Cs could exert a higher torque during knee extension than the other positions.

Conclusions:

The current study showed that the physiological profile of elite players in the Belgian first division differs by player position. More specifically, guards were characterized by high endurance, speed, and agility, whereas centers and power forwards had higher muscle strength than the other positions.