Dragan Milanović, Dinko Vuleta and Katarina Ohnjec
The aim of the study was to determine performance indicators of winning and defeated women teams of the 2012 Olympic Games handball tournament. The sample of entities consisted of 27 games played during the preliminary round of the competition. The sample of variables consisted of the completed and unsuccessfully executed technical and tactical handball elements in attacking and defensive actions during handball matches (14 variables describing performance in attack and three variables related to defensive play). The differences between the winning and defeated teams in performance variables were determined using the Mann-Whitney U-test. The results showed statistically significant differences between the winning and defeated teams in the following variables: successful fast-break shots (5.11 ± 2.79 vs. 3.00 ± 1.88), unsuccessful wing shots (2.33 ± 1.24 vs. 3.67 ± 1.98), unsuccessful long-range shots (10.70 ± 3.98 vs. 13.37 ± 4.33), steals (5.48 ± 2.28 vs. 4.04 ± 2.07), and assists (13.81 ± 4.04 vs. 11.37 ± 3.59). The winning teams were better in the variables defining offensive performance effectiveness, especially with regard to successful performance of counter attacks; they also had higher efficiency of attacking actions with a strict selection of distance shots and wing shots, as well as a higher number of assists and steals.
Jean-François Dionne, Claude Lajoie, Philippe Gendron, Eduardo Freiberger and François Trudeau
The purpose of our study was to assess physiological adaptations and measure mood outcomes following a cycling training camp in competitive athletes. Fourteen competitive athletes (8 males, 6 females) performed 2 incremental tests to exhaustion before and after a training camp. Volume and intensity (load) of the training regimen were recorded. Submaximal and maximal metabolic data were analysed, as well as economy variables (gross mechanical efficiency and cycling economy). Skeletal muscle adaptations were assessed using near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). For both genders (n = 14), peak power output, peak power output-W/kg ratio and peak power output-B[La] were significantly increased (p < 0.05) after the cycling training camp (p < 0.05). Significant increases occurred for gross mechanical efficiency measured at the lactate threshold (+4.9%) and at the same precamp lactate threshold power output (+2.9%). At the lactate threshold and Post Camp Lactate Threshold Power, cycling economy increased by 5.2 and 2.9%, respectively (p < 0.05). These power measurements were significantly correlated with individual fluctuations in deoxyhaemoglobin in the vastus lateralis for male cyclists only. Profile of Mood State questionnaire results showed that subcategories “Tension-Anxiety”, “Confusion”, “Fatigue” and “Total Global Score” significantly decreased after the training camp. Cycling training camps were associated with positive adaptations (increased cycling economy, gross mechanical efficiency and power output) as well as some mental benefits. This indicates that despite some significant physiological adaptations participants probably did not overreach during their CTC.
Piotr Gronek, Joanna Gronek, Ewelina Lulińska-Kuklik, Michał Spieszny, Marta Niewczas, Mariusz Kaczmarczyk, Miroslav Petr, Patricia Fischerova, Ildus I. Ahmetov and Piotr Żmijewski
The purpose of this study was to investigate individually and in combination the association between the ACE (I/D), NOS3 (Glu298Asp), BDKRB2 (-9/+9), UCP2 (Ala55Val) and AMPD1 (Gln45Ter) variants with endurance performance in a large, performance-homogenous cohort of elite Polish half marathoners. The study group consisted of 180 elite half marathoners: 76 with time < 100 minutes and 104 with time > 100 minutes. DNA of the subjects was extracted from buccal cells donated by the runners and genotyping was carried out using an allelic discrimination assay with a C1000 Touch Thermal Cycler (Bio-Rad, Germany) instrument with TaqMan® probes (NOS3, UCP2, and AMPD1) and a T100™ Thermal Cycler (Bio-Rad, Germany) instrument (ACE and BDKRB2). We found that the UCP2 Ala55Val polymorphism was associated with running performance, with the subjects carrying the Val allele being overrepresented in the group of most successful runners (<100 min) compared to the >100 min group (84.2 vs. 55.8%; OR = 4.23, p < 0.0001). Next, to assess the combined impact of 4 gene polymorphisms, all athletes were classified according to the number of 'endurance' alleles (ACE I, NOS3 Glu, BDKRB2 -9, UCP2 Val) they possessed. The proportion of subjects with a high (4-7) number of 'endurance' alleles was greater in the better half marathoners group compared with the >100 min group (73.7 vs. 51.9%; OR = 2.6, p = 0.0034). These data suggest that the likelihood of becoming an elite half marathoner partly depends on the carriage of a high number of endurance-related alleles.
Paulo Henrique Borges, Sean Cumming, Enio R.V. Ronque, Felippe Cardoso, Ademar Avelar, Leandro Rechenchosky, Israel Teoldo da Costa and Wilson Rinaldi
The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between tactical performance, somatic maturity, and functional capabilities in young soccer players. Study participants were 48 soccer players (14.80 ± 1.5 years) belonging to an extension project at the State University of Maringa - Brazil. Anthropometric measurements of body mass, body height, and sitting height were carried out. The number of years to peak height velocity (PHV) was used as an index of maturation. Evaluations of functional fitness included the following tests: sit-and-reach, Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1, handgrip test, modified abdominal test, and vertical jumps (Counter Movement Jump and Jump Squat). Tactical performance was assessed through the System of Tactical Assessment in Soccer (FUT-SAT). Multiple Linear Regression models were used to estimate the relative contributions of functional and maturational capacities to tactical performance. The results indicated weak associations between the tactical performance indices and somatic maturity, functional capacity, and anthropometric attributes (r < 0.40). The Yo-Yo Test contributed to 36% of the defensive tactic performance variation in the under 13 category. These results suggest that the level of maturity, growth status, and functional fitness have limited impact on tactical performance of young soccer players.
Yasuhiro Yuasa, Toshiyuki Kurihara and Tadao Isaka
This study aimed to investigate the relationship between toe muscular strength and the ability to change direction in athletes. Seventeen collegiate American-football players participated in the study (age 19.9 ± 0.9 years, competition experience 7.3 ± 1.7 years). Two types of measurements were performed to evaluate toe muscular strength: toe flexor strength with the metatarsophalangeal joint in the planter flexed position and toe-pushing force with the metatarsophalangeal joint in the dorsiflexed position. The ability to change direction was evaluated using the pro-agility and 3-cone tests and change of direction deficits, calculated by subtracting the sprint times from the pro-agility and 3-cone times. There were significant correlations between toe-pushing force and the results of the pro-agility and 3-cone tests, but no significant correlations between toe flexor strength and the pro-agility and 3-cone tests. Neither toe-pushing force nor toe flexor strength was significantly correlated with the sprint test results. Furthermore, toe-pushing force was significantly correlated with the 3-cone test deficit, but toe flexor strength was not. The ability to change direction is more strongly affected by toe muscular strength (measured as toe-pushing force) with the metatarsophalangeal joint in the dorsiflexed angle than by toe muscular strength (measured as toe flexor strength) with the metatarsophalangeal joint in the plantar flexed angle. Our results suggest that athletes can improve their ability to change direction with toe muscular strength training with the metatarsophalangeal joint in the dorsiflexed position.
Swimming and throwing are involved in water-polo player performance. These movements have a common biomechanical basis in the use of the internal shoulder rotation and adductor muscles. The aim of the study was to evaluate the relationship between shoulder isokinetic evaluation and throwing velocity as well as swimming performance in female water-polo players. Fifteen high level water-polo players completed two isokinetic shoulder evaluations to determine peak torque of shoulder rotators of the dominant shoulder (concentric and eccentric movements at an angular velocity of 60°·s-1 and concentric movements at an angular velocity of 240°·s-1) and shoulder extensors of both arms (concentric movements at an angular velocity of 60°·s-1 and 240°·s-1). Throwing velocity was measured using a radar gun placed 5 m behind the goal post. Front crawl swimming velocity was determined at 25 m, 100 m and 400 m distances. Concentric peak torque at 60°·s-1 and 240°·s-1 of internal rotators and eccentric peak torque at 60°·s-1 of external rotators were predictors of throwing velocity. The best model to explain the relationship between isokinetic evaluations and throwing velocity was obtained with concentric IR peak torque at 60°·s-1 and eccentric ER peak torque at 60°·s-1 (r2 = 0.52, p = 0.012). Relative total work done and peak torque of shoulder extensors were predictors of 25 m swimming velocity. Shoulder isokinetic evaluations correlate significantly with swimming performance and throwing velocity of female water-polo players. The results may help coaches to develop new strategies such as eccentric dry land training programs to increase both shoulder external rotators strength and throwing velocity.
The relative age effect (RAE) is related to discrimination against youth athletes born in the last quarter of the calendar year. The current study presents research on the RAE in elite youth soccer players in Poland. Players in the Central Junior League (CLJ) finals represent 0.59% of the 25,756 players under 20 years old (U20). This study analyzed the post-game protocols of the CLJ knockout stage from the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons as well as the U17-U21 teams during 2015, including only players who played on the field for at least one minute (n = 395). The results revealed the existence of RAE in the examined groups ( CLJ 2013/2014, χ23 = 15.441, p < 0.01, CLJ 2014/2015, χ23 = 20.891, p < 0.001 U17-U21, χ23 = 25.110, p < 0.001). In addition, the results differed by monthly birth distribution in the Polish population (PP) between 1995 and 1999. This study is the first to examine the RAE in youth soccer in Poland. The occurrence of the RAE with regard to the most promising youth and national team players suggests that a similar effect exists among younger age categories. To reduce the RAE related to identifying soccer talent, tools should be implemented to optimize the player-selection process, such as those that consider the biological development of a player.
Running biomechanics and its evolution that occurs over intensive trials are widely studied, but few studies have focused on the reproducibility of stride evolution in these runs. The purpose of this investigation was to assess the reproducibility of changes in eight biomechanical variables during exhaustive runs, using three-dimensional analysis. Ten male athletes (age: 23 ± 4 years; maximal oxygen uptake: 57.5 ± 4.4 ml02·min-1·kg-1; maximal aerobic speed: 19.3 ± 0.8 km·h-1) performed a maximal treadmill test. Between 3 to 10 days later, they started a series of three time-to-exhaustion trials at 90% of the individual maximal aerobic speed, seven days apart. During these trials eight biomechanical variables were recorded over a 20-s period every 4 min until exhaustion. The evolution of a variable over a trial was represented as the slope of the linear regression of these variables over time. Reproducibility was assessed with intraclass correlation coefficients and variability was quantified as standard error of measurement. Changes in five variables (swing duration, stride frequency, step length, centre of gravity vertical and lateral amplitude) showed moderate to good reproducibility (0.48 ≤ ICC ≤ 0.72), while changes in stance duration, reactivity and foot orientation showed poor reproducibility (-0.71 ≤ ICC ≤ 0.04). Fatigue-induced changes in stride biomechanics do not follow a reproducible course across the board; however, several variables do show satisfactory stability: swing duration, stride frequency, step length and centre of gravity shift.
Jorge Vargas, Manuel Loureiro, Pantelis T. Nikolaidis, Beat Knechtle, Lorenzo Laporta, Rui Marcelino and Jose Afonso
The aim of the present study was to analyse the Japanese National Women’s Volleyball Team and to identify items differentiating it from other teams. All fifteen matches between the six National Teams (i.e., Japan, Brazil, China, Belgium, Turkey and Russia) competing at the Women’s Volleyball World Grand Prix Finals of 2014 were analyzed, in a total of 56 sets and 7,176 situations of ball possession. Data suggested the existence of differences between Japan’s and the other five teams’ gameplay, namely the likelihood of more gameplay with utilization of the float jump serve (20.42; ± 3.79%, very large magnitude) and attack tempo 2 (61.89; ± 29.67%, large magnitude), while exhibiting less gameplay with zero blockers opposing the attack (-42.06; ± 21.28%, large magnitude). Based on these findings, it was concluded that sports success could be achieved even when a core feature of mainstream performance models (e.g., height in volleyball) was lacking.
Roberto Alsasua, Daniel Lapresa, Javier Arana, M. Teresa Anguera and Belén Garzón
Following observational methodology, we analyzed successful and unsuccessful offensive attacks by professional and elite under-16 (U16) basketball players in Spain using an adapted ad hoc observation instrument designed to study efficiency in basketball. We identified both similarities and differences between how players from both categories built their attacks. The synchronic statistical analysis based on frequency counts showed that shots were more efficient in professional basketball and that U16 basketball was less static and had a higher frequency of fast breaks. Diachronic analysis, which consisted of T-pattern detection using Theme software, allowed us to identify characteristic successful and unsuccessful offensive sequences in professional and elite U16 basketball. These results have practical implications as they can be used to design training drills and prepare for competitions in U16 and professional basketball.