Bicarbonate loading is a popular ergogenic aid used primarily by athletes in short-duration, high-intensity sporting events and competitions. Controlled experimental trials have shown that small (worthwhile) benefits can obtained from acute doses of bicarbonate taken before exercise. Gastrointestinal problems encountered by some athletes limit the widespread use of this practice, however. The transfer of positive research findings to the competitive environment has proved problematic for some individuals. More recent applications involve serial ingestion of bicarbonate over several days before competition or during high-intensity training sessions over a few weeks. A number of research questions need to be addressed to enhance applications of bicarbonate loading in the elite sport environment. This commentary examines some of research and practical issues of bicarbonate loading used to enhance both training and competitive performance.
Louise M. Burke and David B. Pyne
Gal Dubnov-Raz, Netachen Livne, Raanan Raz, Daniel Rogel, Avner H. Cohen and Naama W. Constantini
Serum vitamin D concentrations (25[OH]D) are associated with physical performance in the general population, but few studies have been published in athletes. 80 competitive adolescent swimmers from both sexes were tested for serum 25(OH)D concentrations, grip strength, balance and swimming performance at several speeds. Spearman’s correlations were used to examine the associations between 25(OH)D concentrations and age-adjusted measures of performance. Performance parameters were also compared between vitamin D sufficient (n = 27), insufficient (25[OH]D ranging 20−29.9 ng/ml, n = 42), and deficient (25[OH]D < 20 ng/ml, n = 11) participants. No significant associations were found between serum 25(OH)D concentrations and any of the performance measures, with no significant differences found between vitamin D sufficient, insufficient and deficient participants. In competitive adolescent swimmers, serum vitamin D concentrations were not associated with strength, balance or swimming performance. Vitamin D insufficient/deficient swimmers did not have reduced performance.
Judy L. Van Raalte, Allen E. Cornelius, Britton W. Brewer and Stephen J. Hatten
Although a number of studies have demonstrated the effects of self-talk on sport performance, the research literature on the antecedents of self-talk in competitive sport is sparse. The purpose of this study was to examine both the antecedents and the consequences of self-talk during competitive tennis performance. Eighteen adult tournament players were observed during United States Tennis Association–sanctioned matches. Players’ audible self-talk, observable gestures, and tennis scores were recorded using the Self-Talk and Gestures Rating Scale (Van Raalte, Brewer, Rivera, & Petitpas, 1994b). Results indicated that all players used observable self-talk and gestures during their matches. Furthermore, for all players, match circumstances (e.g., point outcome, serving status) predicted the use of negative self-talk. Positive and instructional self-talk were predicted by match circumstances for some players. The results suggest that match circumstances contribute to the generation of self-talk and provide useful information for researchers interested in better understanding the antecedents of self-talk.
Harry Prapavessis and Albert V. Carron
One purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between cohesion and competitive state anxiety (A-state). If a cohesion-competition A-state relationship was obtained, the second purpose was to determine whether the perceived psychological benefits and/or psychological costs of cohesiveness mediate that relationship. In order to examine these issues, a sample of interactive sport-team athletes (N = 110) completed the Group Environment Questionnaire (GEQ; Carron, Widmeyer, & Brawley, 1985) and items related to the perceived psychological benefits and costs of membership in cohesive groups. In addition, athletes completed the Competitive State Anxiety Inventory–2 (CSAI-2; Martens, Burton, Vealey, Bump, & Smith, 1990) prior to competition. Results showed that cohesion was related to A-state responses (p < .004). Specifically, individuals holding higher perceptions of task cohesion reported less cognitive A-state. Results also showed that psychological costs associated with membership on cohesive teams mediates the cohesion–A-state relationship.
Jeremy M. Sheppard, Sophia Nimphius, Greg G. Haff, Tai T. Tran, Tania Spiteri, Hedda Brooks, Gary Slater and Robert U. Newton
Appropriate and valid testing protocols for evaluating the physical performances of surfing athletes are not well refined. The purpose of this project was to develop, refine, and evaluate a testing protocol for use with elite surfers, including measures of anthropometry, strength and power, and endurance.
After pilot testing and consultation with athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, a specific suite of tests was developed. Forty-four competitive junior surfers (16.2 ± 1.3 y, 166.3 ± 7.3 cm, 57.9 ± 8.5 kg) participated in this study involving a within-day repeated-measures analysis, using an elite junior group of 22 international competitors (EJG), to establish reliability of the measures. To reflect validity of the testing measures, a comparison of performance results was then undertaken between the EJG and an age-matched competitive junior group of 22 nationally competitive surfers (CJG).
Percent typical error of measurement (%TEM) for primary variables gained from the assessments ranged from 1.1% to 3.0%, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from .96 to .99. One-way analysis of variance revealed that the EJG had lower skinfolds (P = .005, d = 0.9) than the CJG, despite no difference in stature (P = .102) or body mass (P = .827). The EJG were faster in 15-m sprint-paddle velocity (P < .001, d = 1.3) and had higher lower-body isometric peak force (P = .04, d = 0.7) and superior endurance-paddling velocity (P = .008, d = 0.9).
The relatively low %TEM of these tests in this population allows for high sensitivity to detect change. The results of this study suggest that competitively superior junior surfers are leaner and possess superior strength, paddling power, and paddling endurance.
Peter Brodkin and Maureen R. Weiss
This study examined developmental differences in motives for participating in competitive swimming across the lifespan. Six age groupings were chosen based on underlying cognitive criteria identified in the literature: younger and older children, high school/college age, and young, middle, and older adults. Swimmers from YMCAs (N= 100) completed the Participation Motivation Questionnaire modified by D. Gould, Feltz, and Weiss (1985). An exploratory factor analysis identified seven factors: characteristics of competitive swimming, health/fitness, social status, affiliation, energy release, significant others, and fan. A MANOVA on the factor scores revealed a significant age group main effect. Follow-up analyses indicated that characteristics of competitive swimming was rated significantly lower by the older adults while social status was rated significantly higher by older children and high school/college-age swimmers. Significant others was rated significantly higher by children, and fen was rated most important by younger children and older adults. Finally, health/fitness motives were rated highest by young and middle adults and lowest by older children and older adults. Implications of the findings for a cognitive-developmental approach to participation motivation are discussed.
Kacey C. Neely, John G.H. Dunn, Tara-Leigh F. McHugh and Nicholas L. Holt
The overall purpose of this study was to examine coaches’ views on deselecting athletes from competitive female adolescent sport teams. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 22 head coaches of Canadian provincial level soccer, basketball, volleyball, and ice hockey teams. Interpretive description methodology (Thorne, 2008) was used. Results revealed deselection was a process that involved four phases: pre-tryout meeting, evaluation and decision-making, communication of deselection, and post deselection reflections. Within the evaluation and decision-making phase coaches made programmed and nonprogrammed decisions under conditions of certainty and uncertainty. When faced with uncertainty coaches relied on intuition.
Kay Tetzlaff, Holger Schöppenthau and Jochen D. Schipke
It has been widely believed that tissue nitrogen uptake from the lungs during breath-hold diving would be insufficient to cause decompression stress in humans. With competitive free diving, however, diving depths have been ever increasing over the past decades.
A case is presented of a competitive free-diving athlete who suffered stroke-like symptoms after surfacing from his last dive of a series of 3 deep breath-hold dives. A literature and Web search was performed to screen for similar cases of subjects with serious neurological symptoms after deep breath-hold dives.
A previously healthy 31-y-old athlete experienced right-sided motor weakness and difficulty speaking immediately after surfacing from a breathhold dive to a depth of 100 m. He had performed 2 preceding breath-hold dives to that depth with surface intervals of only 15 min. The presentation of symptoms and neuroimaging findings supported a clinical diagnosis of stroke. Three more cases of neurological insults were retrieved by literature and Web search; in all cases the athletes presented with stroke-like symptoms after single breath-hold dives of depths exceeding 100 m. Two of these cases only had a short delay to recompression treatment and completely recovered from the insult.
This report highlights the possibility of neurological insult, eg, stroke, due to cerebral arterial gas embolism as a consequence of decompression stress after deep breath-hold dives. Thus, stroke as a clinical presentation of cerebral arterial gas embolism should be considered another risk of extreme breath-hold diving.
Graham Jones and Sheldon Hanton
Using Jones’s (1995) control model of debilitative and facilitative competitive anxiety, competitive swimmers (N = 91) were assessed on the intensity and direction of their cognitive anxiety and somatic anxiety responses one hour before an important race, and they completed scales examining outcome, performance, and process goals. It was hypothesized that there would be no difference in intensity of cognitive and somatic anxiety but that swimmers with positive expectancies of goal attainment would report their symptoms as being more facilitative. Forty-five swimmers who had set all three types of goal were divided into positive and negative/uncertain goal attainment expectancy groups for analysis. MANOVA supported the hypothesis in the case of cognitive anxiety and provided partial support in the case of somatic anxiety across all three goal types. Cognitive and somatic anxiety direction scores were the largest contributors to the significant multivariate effects. Eta-squared calculations showed that the predictions of Jones’s model were best supported in the case of performance goals.
Robert S. Weinberg, David Yukelson and Allen Jackson
The present investigation was designed to extend Weinberg, Gould, and Jackson's (1979) efficacy-performance results to a back-to-back competitive situation as well as to determine whether performance would be affected by the solicitation of public vs. private expectancy statements. Subjects (56 males and 56 females) were randomly assigned to either a high or low self-efficacy condition and either stated their expectancy of success publicly or privately in a 2 × 2 × 2 (sex × self-efficacy × publiclprivate) factorial design. Self-efficacy was manipulated by having subjects compete against a confederate on a muscular leg-endurance task in which the confederate was said to be either a varsity track athlete who exhibited higher performance on a related task (low self-efficacy), or an individual who had a knee injury and exhibited poorer performance on a related task (high self-efficacy). The results supported self-efficacy predictions, and thus extended Weinberg et al.'s findings to a back-to-back competitive situation. The public/private manipulation produced no significant performance effects. In addition, the sex by self-efficacy interaction indicated that the self-efficacy main effect was due primarily to high-efficacy males extending their legs significantly longer than low-efficacy males. These results are discussed in terms of the differing patterns of sex-role socialization.