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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.

Open access

Ronald J. Maughan, Louise M. Burke, Jiri Dvorak, D. Enette Larson-Meyer, Peter Peeling, Stuart M. Phillips, Eric S. Rawson, Neil P. Walsh, Ina Garthe, Hans Geyer, Romain Meeusen, Luc van Loon, Susan M. Shirreffs, Lawrence L. Spriet, Mark Stuart, Alan Vernec, Kevin Currell, Vidya M. Ali, Richard G.M. Budgett, Arne Ljungqvist, Margo Mountjoy, Yannis Pitsiladis, Torbjørn Soligard, Uğur Erdener and Lars Engebretsen

Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition program. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including the management of micronutrient deficiencies, supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and provision of direct benefits to performance or indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can offer benefits to the athlete, but others may be harmful to the athlete’s health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation if an anti-doping rule violation results. A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome, and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialed in training or simulated competition before implementation in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the anti-doping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete’s health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount, and expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before embarking on supplement use.

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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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Nicholas L. Holt and John M. Hogg

The ability to cope with competitive stress is an integral part of elite sport performance. The purposes of this investigation were to identify and examine players’ perceptions of sources of stress and coping strategies prior to the 1999 soccer world cup finals. Using a case study approach (Stake, 2000), members of a women’s national soccer team (n = 10) participated in this investigation. Through the process of inductive data analysis, main sources of stress were categorized into the following four main themes: coaches, demands of international soccer, competitive stressors, and distractions. Participants used several types of strategies based on a range of problem-focused, emotion-focused, appraisal-reappraisal, and avoidance coping styles to deal with these stressors. The main coping themes identified were reappraisal, use of social resources, performance behaviors, and blocking. Athletes implemented different coping strategies depending on the stressors they encountered. The widest range of coping responses were displayed in coping with the communication styles used by the coaches. Implications of these findings for researchers, athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists are discussed.

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Michail Lubomirov Michailov, Audry Morrison, Mano Mitkov Ketenliev and Boyanka Petkova Pentcheva

Traditional treadmill or bicycle ergometry neglects the upper-body musculature that predominantly limits or terminates rock-climbing performance (ie, the inability to continually pull up one’s body mass or “hang on”).

Purpose:

To develop an incremental maximal upper-body ergometer test (UBT) to evaluate climbers’ aerobic fitness and sport-specific work capacity and to compare these results with a traditional treadmill protocol.

Methods:

Eleven elite sport climbers (best redpoint grade Fr.8b) performed a UBT on a vertically mounted rowing ergometer and, on a separate occasion, performed a maximal incremental treadmill test (TMT). Cardiorespiratory parameters were measured continuously. Lactate (La) samples were collected.

Results:

Peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) and heart rate in UBT and TMT were 34.1 ± 4.1 vs 58.3 ± 2.6 mL · min−1 · kg−1 and 185 ± 8 vs 197 ± 8 beats/min, respectively, and both variables were of significantly lower magnitude during UBT (P < .001). End-of-test La levels for UBT (11.9 ± 1.7 mmol/L) and TMT (12.3 ± 2.5 mmol/L) were similar (P = .554). Treadmill VO2peak was not correlated with either upper-body (UB) VO2peak (P = .854) or redpoint and on-sight climbing grade ability (P > .05). UB VO2peak and peak power output per kg body mass were both strongly correlated (P < .05) with climbing grade ability. The highest correlation coefficient was calculated between current on-sight grade and UB VO2peak (r = .85, P = .001).

Conclusion:

UBT aerobic- and work-capacity results were strongly correlated to climbing-performance variables and reflected sport-specific fatigue, and TMT results were not. UBT is preferred to TMT to test and monitor dedicated and elite rock climbers’ training status.

Open access

Ronald J. Maughan

fortunately rare, but include impairments of health and performance as well as the potential for unwitting ingestion of substances that are prohibited under the anti-doping codes that govern elite sport. This issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism contains an overview

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R.L. Caughron

nature, essentially seeing elite sport as “a cover for its actual dramatizations of capitalistic violence” (p. 19), as Grano describes one cited author’s interpretation of sport in the Western world. This seems to be the interpretation of sport by many culturalists and sociologists as they examine sport

Open access

). BM indicates body mass; EMG, electromyography; RCT, randomized controlled trial; TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation. Wile E. Coyote image licensed via carlos cardetas/Alamy Stock Photo. In the business, elite-sport, or academic setting, there is never only one way to complete a task, but there is

Open access

International Olympic Committee Expert Group on Dietary Supplements in Athletes

ingestion of substances that are prohibited under the anti-doping codes that govern elite sport, but are present in some supplement products. In some cases, the level of prohibited or toxic substances in supplements presents a health hazard for all consumers. In other cases, the content may be too small to

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Bridie Kean, David Fleischman and Peter English

The complementary nature of higher education and elite sport is documented internationally in both academic and practical contexts (e.g.,  Aquilina, 2009 ; Fraser, Fogarty, & Albion, 2010 ; Knapp, 2012 ). In Australia, for example, there is a high number of athletes who are concurrently