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Christopher A. Bailey, Kimitake Sato, Angus Burnett and Michael H. Stone

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the existence of bilateral strength and force-production asymmetry and evaluate possible differences based on sex, as well as strength level. Asymmetry was assessed during weight-distribution (WtD) testing, unloaded and lightly loaded static- (SJ) and countermovement-jump (CMJ) testing, and isometric midthigh-pull (IMTP) strength testing. Subjects included 63 athletes (31 male, 32 female) for WtD, SJ, and CMJ tests, while 129 athletes (64 male, 65 female) participated in IMTP testing. Independent-samples t tests were used to determine possible differences in asymmetry magnitude between males and females, as well as between strong and weak athletes. Cohen d effect-size (ES) estimates were also used to estimate difference magnitudes. Statistically different asymmetry levels with moderate to strong ESs were seen between males and females in WtD, 0-kg SJ (peak force [PF]), 20-kg SJ (peak power [PP]), 0-kg CMJ (PF, PP, net impulse), and 20-kg CMJ (PF), but no statistical differences were observed in IMTP variables. Dividing the sample into strong and weak groups produced statistically significant differences with strong ES estimates in IMTP PF and rate of force development, and many ESs in jump symmetry variables increased. The results of this investigation indicate that females may be more prone to producing forces asymmetrically than males during WtD and jumping tasks. Similarly, weaker athletes displayed more asymmetry than stronger athletes. This may indicate that absolute strength may play a larger role in influencing asymmetry magnitude than sex.

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Irineu Loturco, Lucas A. Pereira, Ciro Winckler, Weverton L. Santos, Ronaldo Kobal and Michael McGuigan

Purpose: To examine the relationships between different loading intensities and movement velocities in the bench-press exercise (BP) in Paralympic powerlifters. Methods: A total of 17 national Paralympic powerlifters performed maximum dynamic strength tests to determine their BP 1-repetition maximum (1RM) in a Smith-machine device. A linear position transducer was used to measure movement velocity over a comprehensive range of loads. Linear-regression analysis was performed to establish the relationships between the different bar velocities and the distinct percentages of 1RM. Results: Overall, the correlations between bar velocities and %1RM were strong over the entire range of loads (R 2 .80–.91), but the precision of the predictive equations (expressed as mean differences [%] between actual and predicted 1RM values) were higher at heavier loading intensities (∼20% for loads ≤70% 1RM and ∼5% for loads ≥70% 1RM). In addition, it seems that these very strong athletes (eg, 1RM relative in the BP = 2.22 [0.36] kg·kg−1, for male participants) perform BP 1RM assessments at lower velocities than those previously reported in the literature. Conclusions: The load–velocity relationship was strong and consistent in Paralympic powerlifters, especially at higher loads (≥70% 1RM). Therefore, Paralympic coaches can use the predictive equations and the reference values provided here to determine and monitor the BP loading intensity in national Paralympic powerlifters.

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Christina Carr, John J. McMahon and Paul Comfort

Purpose:

Previous research has investigated changes in athletes’ strength, power, and speed performances across the competitive season of many sports, although this has not been explored in cricketers. The aim of this study was to investigate changes in lower-body strength and jump and sprint performances across an English county cricket season.

Methods:

Male cricketers (N = 12; age 24.4 ± 2.3 y, body mass 84.3 ± 9.9 kg, height 184.1 ± 8.1 cm) performed countermovement jumps (CMJs) and 20-m sprints on 4 separate occasions and back-squat strength testing on 3 separate occasions across a competitive season.

Results:

Both absolute (12.9%, P = .005, effect size [ES] = 0.53) and relative lower-body strength (15.8%, P = .004, ES = 0.69) and CMJ height (5.3%, P = .037, ES = 0.42) improved significantly over the preseason training period, although no significant change (1.7%, P > .05) in sprint performance was observed. In contrast, absolute (14.3%, P = .001, ES = 0.72) and relative strength (15.0%, P = .001, ES = 0.77), CMJ height (4.2%, P = .023, ES = 0.40), and sprint performance (3.8%, P = .012, ES = 0.94) declined significantly across the season.

Conclusions:

The results of this study show that neither the demands of the competitive cricket season nor current in-season training practices provide a sufficient stimulus to maintain strength, jump, and sprint performances in these cricketers. Therefore, coaches should implement a more-frequent, higher-load strength-training program across the competitive cricket season.

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César Gallo-Salazar, Francisco Areces, Javier Abián-Vicén, Beatriz Lara, Juan José Salinero, Cristina Gonzalez-Millán, Javier Portillo, Victor Muñoz, Daniel Juarez and Juan Del Coso

The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a caffeinated energy drink to enhance physical performance in elite junior tennis players. In 2 different sessions separated by 1 wk, 14 young (16 ± 1 y) elite-level tennis players ingested 3 mg caffeine per kg body mass in the form of an energy drink or the same drink without caffeine (placebo). After 60 min, participants performed a handgrip-strength test, a maximal-velocity serving test, and an 8 × 15-m sprint test and then played a simulated singles match (best of 3 sets). Instantaneous running speed during the matches was assessed using global positioning (GPS) devices. Furthermore, the matches were videotaped and notated afterward. In comparison with the placebo drink, the ingestion of the caffeinated energy drink increased handgrip force by ~4.2% ± 7.2% (P = .03) in both hands, the running pace at high intensity (46.7 ± 28.5 vs 63.3 ± 27.7 m/h, P = .02), and the number of sprints (12.1 ± 1.7 vs 13.2 ± 1.7, P = .05) during the simulated match. There was a tendency for increased maximal running velocity during the sprint test (22.3 ± 2.0 vs 22.9 ± 2.1 km/h, P = .07) and higher percentage of points won on service with the caffeinated energy drink (49.7% ± 9.8% vs 56.4% ± 10.0%, P = .07) in comparison with the placebo drink. The energy drink did not improve ball velocity during the serving test (42.6 ± 4.8 vs 42.7 ± 5.0 m/s, P = .49). The preexercise ingestion of caffeinated energy drinks was effective to enhance some aspects of physical performance of elite junior tennis players.

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Alysha Hyde, Luke Hogarth, Mark Sayers, Emma Beckman, Mark J. Connick, Sean Tweedy and Brendan Burkett

Purpose:

To quantify the influence of the assistive pole, seat configuration, and upper-body and trunk strength on seated-throwing performance in athletes with a spinal-cord injury (SCI).

Methods:

Ten Paralympic athletes competing in wheelchair rugby, basketball, or athletics (seated throws) participated in 2 randomized sessions: seated throwing and strength tests. Participants threw a club from a custom-built throwing chair, with and without a pole. 3D kinematic data were collected (150 Hz) for both conditions using standardized and self-selected seat configurations. Dominant and nondominant grip strength were measured using a dynamometer, and upper-body and trunk strength were measured using isometric contractions against a load cell.

Results:

Seated throwing with an assistive pole resulted in significantly higher hand speed at release than throwing without a pole (pole = 6.0 ± 1.5 m/s, no pole = 5.3 ± 1.5 m/s; P = .02). There was no significant difference in hand speed at release between standardized and self-selected seating configurations during seated throwing with or without an assistive pole. Grip strength (r = .59–.77), push/pull synergy (r = .81–.84), and trunk-flexion (r = .50–.58) strength measures showed large and significant correlations with hand speed at release during seated throwing with and without an assistive pole.

Conclusions:

This study has demonstrated the importance of the pole for SCI athletes in seated throwing and defined the relationship between strength and seated-throwing performance, allowing us to better understand the activity of seated throws and provide measures for assessing strength that may be valid for evidence-based classification.

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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.

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Wissem Dhahbi, Anis Chaouachi, Johnny Padulo, David G. Behm and Karim Chamari

Purpose:

To examine the concurrent validity and absolute and relative reliabilities of a commando-specific power test.

Participants:

21 antiterrorism commandos.

Methods:

All participants were assessed on a 5-m rope-climbing test (RCT) and the following tests: pull-ups, push-ups, estimated-1-repetition-maximum (est-1RM), medicine-ball put, and handgrip-strength test. The stopwatch method related to the execution time (ET) was validated by comparison with video motion analysis. The best individual attempt of 3 trials was kept for analysis, and the performance was expressed in absolute power output (APO) and body-mass relative power output (RPO).

Results:

Stopwatch assessment had an excellent criterion validity (r = .99, P < .001), intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC3,1) of .98, standard errors of measurement (SEM%) of 1.19%, bias ± the 95% limits of agreement of 0.03 ± 0.26 s, and minimal detectable change (MDC95) of 0.51 s. The ET, APO, and RPO were significantly correlated (P < .05) with all cited tests (absolute-value r range .55−.98), while est-1RM was not significantly correlated with the other tests. Test-retest reliability coefficients were excellent for ET, APO, and RPO (ICC3,1 > .90). The SEM% values for the ET, APO, and RPO were all under 5% (range 3.73−4.52%), all being smaller than the corresponding smallest worthwhile change. The coefficients of variation for the ET, APO, and RPO were all under 10%. %MDC95 ranged from 10.37% to 12.53%.

Conclusions:

Considering the strong concurrent validity and excellent test–retest reliability, the RCT is simple to administer, has ecological validity, and is a valid specific field test of upper-body power for commandos and, in addition, can be accurately assessed with a stopwatch.

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Timothy F. Tyler, Brandon M. Schmitt, Stephen J. Nicholas and Malachy P. McHugh

Context:

Hamstring-strain injuries have a high recurrence rate.

Objective:

To determine if a protocol emphasizing eccentric strength training with the hamstrings in a lengthened position resulted in a low recurrence rate.

Design:

Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting:

Sports-medicine physical therapy clinic.

Participants:

Fifty athletes with hamstring-strain injury (age 36 ± 16 y; 30 men, 20 women; 3 G1, 43 G2, 4 G3; 25 recurrent injuries) followed a 3-phase rehabilitation protocol emphasizing eccentric strengthening with the hamstrings in a lengthened position.

Main Outcome Measures:

Injury recurrence; isometric hamstring strength at 80°, 60°, 40°, and 20° knee flexion in sitting with the thigh flexed to 40° above the horizontal and the seat back at 90° to the horizontal (strength tested before return to sport).

Results:

Four of the 50 athletes sustained reinjuries between 3 and 12 mo after return to sport (8% recurrence rate). The other 42 athletes had not sustained a reinjury at an average of 24 ± 12 mo after return to sport. Eight noncompliant athletes did not complete the rehabilitation and returned to sport before initiating eccentric strengthening in the lengthened state. All 4 reinjuries occurred in these noncompliant athletes. At time of return to sport, compliant athletes had full restoration of strength while noncompliant athletes had significant hamstring weakness, which was progressively worse at longer muscle lengths (compliance × side × angle P = .006; involved vs noninvolved at 20°, compliant 7% stronger, noncompliant 43% weaker).

Conclusion:

Compliance with rehabilitation emphasizing eccentric strengthening with the hamstrings in a lengthened position resulted in no reinjuries.

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Julia Kathrin Baumgart and Øyvind Sandbakk

Purpose:

To investigate on-ice repeated-sprint and sports-specific-technique abilities and the relationships to aerobic and anaerobic off-ice capacities in world-class ice sledge hockey players.

Methods:

Twelve Norwegian national team players performed 8 repeated maximal 30-m sprints and a sports-specific-technique test while upper-body poling on ice, followed by 4 maximal upper-body strength tests and 8-s peak power and 3-min peak aerobic-capacity (VO2peak) tests while ergometer poling.

Results:

The fastest 30-m sprint time was 6.5 ± 0.4 s, the fastest initial 10-m split-time 2.9 ± 0.2 s, and the corresponding power output 212 ± 37 W. Average 30-m time during the 8 repeated sprints was 6.7 ± 0.4 s, and the sprint-time decrement was 4.3% ± 1.8%. Time to execute the sport-specific-technique test was 25.6 ± 2.7 s. Averaged 1-repetition-maximum strength of the 4 exercises correlated with the fastest 30-m sprint time (r = –.77), the fastest initial 10-m split time (r = –.72), the corresponding power output (r = .67), and the average 30-m sprint time (r = –.84) (all P < .05). Peak power of the 8-s ergometer sprint test correlated with the highest initial 10-m power (r = .83, P < .01) and the average 30-m sprint time (r = –.68, P < .05). Average 3-min ergometer power (r = –.86, P < .01) and VO2peak (r = –.67, P < .05) correlated with the sprint-time decrement. All off-ice variables except VO2peak correlated with technique-test time (r = –.58 to .73, all P < .05).

Conclusion:

Maximal strength and power are associated with the ability to sprint fast and rapid execution of a technically complex test, whereas mode-specific endurance capacity is particularly important for maintenance of sprint ability in ice sledge hockey.

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Natália M. Bassan, Tadeu E.A.S. César, Benedito S. Denadai and Camila C. Greco

Purpose:

To analyze the relationship between the responses of isometric peak torque (IPT) and maximal rate of force development (RFDmax) with the changes in stroking parameters in an exhaustive exercise performed in front crawl.

Methods:

Fifteen male swimmers performed, on different days, the following protocols: maximal 400-m trial, strength tests before and after an exhaustive test at 100% of the mean speed obtained during the 400-m test, and the same procedures on day 2.

Results:

The IPT of elbow flexors (79.9 ± 19.4 and 66.7 ± 20.0 N·m) and elbow extensors (95.1 ± 28.0 N·m and 85.8 ± 30.5 N·m) was decreased after the swim test, as was RFDmax (521.8 ± 198.6 and 426.0 ± 229.9 N·m/s; 420.6 ± 168.2 and 384.0 ± 143.5 N·m/s, respectively). Stroke length decreased during the swim test (1.96 ± 0.22 and 1.68 ± 0.29 m/stroke), while stroke rate increased (37.2 ± 3.14 and 41.3 ± 4.32 strokes/min). The propulsive phases increased while the nonpropulsive phases decreased during the test. Significant correlation was found between the changes in IPT and stroke length, stroke rate and recovery (elbow flexors), and entry and catch phase (elbow extensors). In addition, significant correlation was found between the changes in RFDmax of elbow flexors with the changes in pull and recovery phases.

Conclusion:

Changes in swim technique during an exhaustive test can be, at least in part, associated with fatigue of the arm muscles.