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Josh Ogden and Jonathon R. Edwards

Organizations in a sport system compete against one another while working together to sustain a competitive environment and to provide opportunities for competition at the provincial/state, national, or international level. This paper is a multicase study comparison of the elite sport development systems of Canada and Sweden to explore the differences and similarities between their approaches to the delivery of ice hockey. Semistructured interviews took place with participants from North America and Europe. Additional data came from media articles from Canada and Sweden. Findings revealed six themes/characteristics: the cost of hockey, residential boundaries, the player selection process, skill development, early specialization, and coaching. The results suggest that Canadian and Swedish hockey systems offer two different approaches to elite player development (closed vs. open systems), resulting in different trajectories regarding international success in the World Junior Championships and in the number of players drafted into the National Hockey League.

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W. James Weese

Organizational effectiveness continues to be a popular topic in management settings, seminars, and research projects. Similar levels of interest prevail in the area of sport management, although most of the attention is expressed in the elite sport areas. This paper provides an overview of the organizational effectiveness literature with specific application to the area of recreationalintramural sport programs in institutions of higher learning.

The Target Population Satisfaction Index (TPSI) instrument is introduced as an instrument to measure organizational effectiveness in these programs. The author outlines the steps taken to develop and test the instrument as well as a suggested protocol for administering the instrument. The TPSI instrument was subjected to a number of psychometric assessments and is presented as a valid and reliable measurement tool.

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Louise M. Burke and David B. Pyne

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.

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Michael Hutchison, Paul Comper, Lynda Mainwaring and Doug Richards

The baseline / postconcussion neuropsychological (NP) assessment model has been shown to be of clinical value and currently contributes significant information in sport concussion evaluation. Computerized NP batteries are now widely used in elite sport environments and are rapidly becoming more commonly utilized at the community level. With the growth of computerized NP testing, it is important to identify and understand unique characteristics with respect to baseline NP performance. The Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics (ANAM) is a library of computerized NP tests designed to detect speed and accuracy of attention, memory, and thinking ability. This article describes baseline ANAM test scores in a sample of Canadian university athletes and explores the following two factors: (a) performance differences between male and female student-athletes using ANAM tests and (b) the relationship between self-reported history of concussion and baseline NP performance.

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Carlos A. Muniesa, Zoraida Verde, Germán Diaz-Ureña, Catalina Santiago, Fernando Gutiérrez, Enrique Díaz, Félix Gómez-Gallego, Helios Pareja-Galeano, Luisa Soares-Miranda and Alejandro Lucia

Growing evidence suggests that regular moderate-intensity physical activity is associated with an attenuation of leukocyte telomere length (LTL) shortening. However, more controversy exists regarding higher exercise loads such as those imposed by elite-sport participation.

Methods:

The authors investigated LTL differences between young elite athletes (n = 61, 54% men, age [mean ± SD] 27.2 ± 4.9 y) and healthy nonsmoker, physically inactive controls (n = 64, 52% men, 28.9 ± 6.3 y) using analysis of variance (ANOVA).

Results:

Elite athletes had, on average, higher LTL than control subjects, 0.89 ± 0.26 vs 0.78 ± 0.31, P = .013 for the group effect, with no significant sex (P = .995) or age effect (P = .114).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that young elite athletes have longer telomeres than their inactive peers. Further research might assess the LTL of elite athletes of varying ages compared with both age-matched active and inactive individuals.

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Ben Jackson, Peter Knapp and Mark R. Beauchamp

Drawing from Lent and Lopez’s (2002) “tripartite” model of relational efficacy, the overall purpose of this study was to examine antecedents and consequences of self-effcacy, other-efficacy, and relation-inferred self-efficacy (RISE) within six international-level athlete dyads. Semistructured interviews were conducted and data were content analyzed using deductive and inductive procedures. Sources of efficacy emerged in relation to perceptions regarding (i) oneself, (ii) one’s partner, (iii) the dyad/relationship, and (iv) external factors. Results also revealed the emergence of a number of salient intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes, incorporating cognitive, affective, as well as behavioral consequences. Implications for theory development and future research are considered, and applied propositions are discussed with regard to effective relationship management in elite sport.

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David Fletcher and Sheldon Hanton

This study extends recent research investigating organizational stress in elite sport. Fourteen international performers (7 men and 7 women) from a wide range of sports were interviewed with regard to potential sources of organizational stress. Consistent with Woodman and Hardy’s (2001a) theoretical framework of organizational stress in sport, four main categories were examined: environmental issues, personal issues, leadership issues, and team issues. The main environmental issues that emerged were selection, finances, training environment, accommodation, travel, and competition environment. The main personal issues were nutrition, injury, and goals and expectations. The main leadership issues were coaches and coaching styles. The main team issues were team atmosphere, support network, roles, and communication. The findings are discussed in relation to previous research and in terms of their implications for sport organizations and personnel working with elite performers.

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Caroline Giroux, Giuseppe Rabita, Didier Chollet and Gaël Guilhem

Performance during human movements is highly related to force and velocity muscle capacities. Those capacities are highly developed in elite athletes practicing power-oriented sports. However, it is still unclear whether the balance between their force and velocity-generating capacities constitutes an optimal profile. In this study, we aimed to determine the effect of elite sport background on the force–velocity relationship in the squat jump, and evaluate the level of optimization of these profiles. Ninetyfive elite athletes in cycling, fencing, taekwondo, and athletic sprinting, and 15 control participants performed squat jumps in 7 loading conditions (range: 0%–60% of the maximal load they were able to lift). Theoretical maximal power (Pm), force (F 0), and velocity (v 0) were determined from the individual force–velocity relationships. Optimal profiles were assessed by calculating the optimal force (F 0th) and velocity (v 0th). Athletic sprinters and cyclists produced greater force than the other groups (P < .05). F 0 was significantly lower than F 0th, and v 0 was significantly higher than v 0th for female fencers and control participants, and for male athletics sprinters, fencers, and taekwondo practitioners (P < .05). Our study shows that the chronic practice of an activity leads to differently balanced force–velocity profiles. Moreover, the differences between measured and optimal force–velocity profiles raise potential sources of performance improvement in elite athletes.

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Randy C. Battochio, Robert J. Schinke, Danny L. Battochio, Wayne Halliwell and Gershon Tenenbaum

Through adaptation studies in elite sport, researchers can delineate the strategies that amateur and professional athletes employ during career transitions (e.g., promotion, relocation). Fiske (2004) identified five core motives as catalysts to adaptation: understanding, controlling, self-enhancement, belonging, and trusting, which were recently contextualized in sport as a result of one archival study examining the second hand experiences of National Hockey League (NHL) players. The purpose of the present study was to learn about the adaptation process of NHL players based on a first hand data source (i.e., semi-structured interview). A semi-structured open-ended interview guide was utilized to learn about the experiences of four groups of NHL players (n = 11): prospects (n = 3), rookies (n = 3), veterans (n = 2), and retirees (n = 3). There is an indication that adaptation strategies and sub-strategies vary according to the player’s career stage and the challenges related to seeking and maintaining a roster spot. The findings are also consistent with Fiske’s five core motives and earlier adaptation sub-strategies, in addition to uncovering three novel sub-strategies (i.e., understanding one’s performance, distraction control, and trusting player agents). Implications and recommendations are provided for sport researchers and practitioners.

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Nils Haller, Tobias Ehlert, Sebastian Schmidt, David Ochmann, Björn Sterzing, Franz Grus and Perikles Simon

Purpose: Player monitoring in elite sport settings is becoming increasingly important. Questionnaire-based methods and biomarkers such as circulating, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) are suggested for load monitoring. cfDNA concentrations were shown to increase depending on total distance covered in football and were associated with overtraining in weight lifters. Thus, the objective of this study was to examine whether cfDNA is feasible as a monitoring tool in elite football players. Methods: Capillary blood samples from 22 male elite football players were collected over 4 mo of a regular season. Sampling was conducted the day before, 1 day after, or several days after regular-season games and/or training. In addition, each player filled in a visual analogue scale (VAS) questionnaire including the items “general perceived exertion,” “muscular fatigue,” and “mental fatigue.” Performance during training and games was tracked by the Catapult system and with the OPTA system, respectively. Results: cfDNA values were significantly elevated in players the day after regular-season games (1.4-fold; P = .0004) in line with the scores of the VAS. Both parameters showed significantly higher values during midweek-game weeks. cfDNA concentrations correlated with training data, and VAS was correlated with the tracking of the season games. However, cfDNA and VAS did not correlate with each other. Conclusions: cfDNA concentrations at rest and VAS scores are influenced by previous load in professional football players. Future studies will reveal whether cfDNA might serve as a practically applicable marker for player load in football players.