Dispelling the Stretching Myth

Dispelling the Stretching Myth


Repeated sprint training in hypoxia: a new training method?

Repeated sprint training in hypoxia: a new training method?

The use of methods to speed up adaptations to training are of major importance especially for high level athletes. Along this line, recent studies have investigated the repeated sprint training in hypoxia as a new training method. Raphael Faiss, Olivier Girard and Gregoire Millet from Aspetar and the University of Lausanne have published a relevant review in the December issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine which is free to download at http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/47/Suppl_1/i45.full.pdf+html

Given the opportunity you can also watch the video of a recent study conducted by Olivier in Aspetar (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl62P771uU4 ).

At Northwestern, ‘Caught Napping’ Can Be a Positive

At Northwestern, ‘Caught Napping’ Can Be a Positive

Northwestern is 3-0 heading into Saturday’s game against Maine, with an offense averaging more than 43 points a game and a roster that is getting the right amount of sleep.

Northwestern Athletics

Northwestern football players wear movement sensor armbands that track their sleep patterns. They also take naps.

Since Pat Fitzgerald became the coach in 2006, he has placed an unusual emphasis on his players’ sleeping behavior as a way to improve their performance. In the past, he has changed the times of practices and instituted team naps, but since the beginning of August, in collaboration with the university’s school of engineering, Fitzgerald has had his team undergo a sleep assessment. The idea is to assess the players’ sleep patterns and then suggest ways they can have more and sounder sleep.

The players began wearing movement sensor armbands during training camp, except when they are practicing or in the weight room. The sensors have mainly been used to track the quantity and quality of sleep each player gets. Fitzgerald plans to have his players wear them throughout the rest of the season. Although players are not required to wear the sensors, most do.

“At first, we didn’t really know much about sleep and we were just curious,” said defensive end Tyler Scott, a team captain. “But we really embraced it, and after a while, we got really competitive about sleep efficiency. We started checking our data every day.”

The study has already had an effect.

Before Northwestern’s season opener at California on Aug. 31, Fitzgerald shifted the team’s practice start times, nap times and meal times to a West Coast schedule in an attempt to minimize the effects of jet lag.

The kickoff was scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in California, which is 9:30 in Evanston, Ill. So the Wildcats began practices at 9:30 p.m., making bed time for most players sometime from 1 to 2 a.m. Fitzgerald did not hold any football activities in the early morning, allowing the players to sleep until 10 a.m.

Emma Adam, a Northwestern professor and an expert on sleep in adolescents and young adults, said she had seen individuals log and study their own sleep patterns, but she has never seen an assessment done on this big a group of athletes.

“What they’re doing is taking existing sleep research and translating it into a program designed for their athletes that they hope will improve not only athletic performance, but also a whole bunch of other things,” Adam said. “Sleep has effects on cognition, your attention, your memory, your mood, your metabolism, your appetite — it affects so many different things.”

This is not the first time that Fitzgerald and his coaching staff have experimented with sleep schedules.

Midway through last season, Fitzgerald noticed that his players appeared sluggish during an afternoon game. After conferring with a few players, he learned that many had been taking afternoon naps during the week because of their class schedules. Fitzgerald then implemented a mandatory nap time on game days.

It was a source of jokes at first, but the players told Fitzgerald that the extra rest was beneficial. The results also were positive — the team finished 10-3, only the third time Northwestern had won at least 10 games.

In 2007, Fitzgerald’s second year, he experimented with moving practice times from the afternoon to early in the morning.

“We were one of the first and certainly probably one of the most high-profile to make that full commitment to morning practices,” said Tory Lindley, an associate athletic director and the director of athletic training services. “Since then, I’ve heard from a number of head athletic trainers around the country who have called us about our schedule and who have since moved and changed their schedules.”

The result, Lindley said, was that the players were receiving better nutrition before and after practice, and that their performances were steadier and more predictable.

Fitzgerald’s emphasis on sleep may still draw raised eyebrows from some. But he has more victories than any other football coach in Northwestern’s history, and the Wildcats figure to be a force in the Big Ten this season.

That might be enough to prompt other teams to consider the possibilities of monitoring their players’ sleep patterns.

“Through all the things that you have to do as a coach to try to help your guys perform at a high level and peak at the right time, we’re always trying to find ways to improve what we’re doing and what we’re teaching,” he said, “and this is kind of the new frontier.”

Which is the most effective method to improve football/soccer-specific decision-making?

Which is the most effective method to improve football/soccer-specific decision-making?

Warren Young and Nathan Rogers from Australia investigated the effect of two different training methods on planned and reactive agility tests. Although the data are on Australian rules players, I think they apply also to football (soccer).
What they did?
  • 25 U18 players were randomly assigned to 2 training groups i) the change of direction group, ii) the small-sided game group.
  • Players performed 11 sessions, of 15 min each, in 7 weeks.
  • A planned-AFL agility test and a video-based reactive agility test were performed before and after intervention.
Main results
  • The small-sided games group improved total time in the reactive agility test and this was entirely due to a very large reduction in decision time.
  •  Small-sided games produced a trivial change in movement response time as well as in the planned-AFL agility test.
  • The change-of-direction training produced small to trivial changes in all of the test variables.
  • Small-sided games seems to improve agility and this may be due to better speed of decision-making.
  • The specific change of direction training was not effective in improving either agility or reactive agility, at least in this group of players.
Young W and Rogers N. Effects of small-sided game and change-of-direction training on reactive agility and change-of-direction speed. Journal of Sports Sciences [Epub ahead of print 9 September 2013]

Match performance and physical capacity of players in the top three competitive standards of English professional soccer

Match performance and physical capacity of players in the top three competitive standards of English professional soccer

AbstractThe aim of this study was to compare the match performance and physical capacity of players in the top three competitive standards of English soccer. Match performance data were collected from players in the FA Premier League (n=190), Championship (n=155) and League 1 (n=366) using a multiple-camera system. In addition, a selection of players from the Premier League (n=56), Championship (n=61) and League 1 (n=32) performed the Yo-Yo intermittent endurance test level 2 (Yo-Yo IE2) to determine physical capacity. Players in League 1 and the Championship performed more (p<.01) high-intensity running than those in the Premier League (Effect Size [ES]: 0.4-1.0). Technical indicators such as pass completion, frequency of forward and total passes, balls received and average touches per possession were 4-39% higher (p<.01) in the Premier League compared to lower standards (ES: 0.3-0.6). Players also covered more (p<.05) high-intensity running when moving down (n=20) from the Premier League to the Championship (ES: 0.4) but not when players moved up (n=18) standards (ES: 0.2). Similar Yo-Yo IE2 test performances were observed in Premier League, Championship and League 1 players (ES: 0.2-0.3). Large magnitude relationships (p<.05) were observed between Yo-Yo IE2 test performances and the total and high-intensity running distance covered in both Championship (r=.56 and .64) and Premier League matches (r=.61 and .54). The data demonstrate that high-intensity running distance was greater in players at lower compared to higher competitive standards despite a similar physical capacity in a subsample of players in each standard. These findings could be associated with technical characteristics inherent to lower standards that require players to tax their physical capacity to a greater extent but additional research is still required to confirm these findings.

PubMed Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23978417

Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries

Lack of Sleep Tied to Teen Sports Injuries

In today’s fast-paced world, we’re constantly connected…to everything.  Teens and pre-teens are all too aware of the pressures and tasks they face on a daily basis: social activities, school, homework, extra curricular activities, sports- the list goes on.  However, amidst all the chaos, what’s often forgotten is the importance of sleep and how much our bodies benefit from a good night’s rest.

In a 2012 study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition, researchers found that the hours of sleep per night was significantly associated with the likelihood of injury.  Additionally, it was found that athletes in higher grade levels had greater likelihood of injury.  “While other studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills and fine motor skills, nobody has really looked at this subject in terms of the adolescent athletic population,” said study author Matthew Milewski, MD.

So what does all this mean?  It means that you probably need to get more sleep.  If you’re concerned about your game and performance (or if you’ve noticed it’s not as great lately), make sure that you’re getting enough rest- it’s one of the best things that you can do for yourself without having to do any work…other than putting on your pajamas.

Read the full article here: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121021102814.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Ftop_news%2Ftop_health+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Top+News+–+Top+Health%29#

Science and football: evaluating the influence of science on performance

Science and football: evaluating the influence of science on performance

Science and football: evaluating the influence of science on performance

The scientific study of football has its origins in the early research completed in the 1970’s. Since these early efforts the available scientific knowledge base related to football has developed substantially. The ability of this scientific information to influence practice in the day-to-day activity of football organisations, especially elite teams, has been largely taken for granted. The close examination of this impact can lead to more uncertainty regarding the usefulness of the scientific data to the sport. Few articles are available that have attempted to critique the link between science and football practice. As such, the aims of this article are 2-fold; (i) to examine the historical background to “science and football” and to analyse the influence of sports science research on the current practice of coaches and practitioners within the sport and (ii) to identify potential ways to increase the influence of scientific research on practice in the “real world”.