A beginner’s guide to bot trading in crypto currencies

If you have made the decision to become a crypto trader it is one of the best decisions to make. Crypto trading has recently established itself as one of the most profitable options for traders. Online trading as a concept took some time to be accepted widely. But then, as people started understanding the many benefits it offers and the convenience of using online trading systems the popularity shot up. The same also applies to the concept of trading with bots in the crypto trading market.

Can you make profits when you trade with bots?

If someone tells you that all trading bots are rigged, do not believe that statement. If someone tells you that trading bots would make you rich in no time, do not believe that either. Trading bots would function like any average trader. They are subject to the risks and the fluctuations in the market. When there are external factors affecting the price changes then the bots would also be impacted. Trading bots by themselves are nothing but algorithms that watch certain aspects of the market and then take decisions based on certain rules. So if you ask if any trading bot would be profitable, it would be a tough question to answer. There are various factors that determine whether a trading bot can really help a trader make money:

The automation level- with some bots, the entire process is carried out by the bot including the decisions for buying and selling specific currencies. In some bots the trader would be taking the decisions and the bot would simply place the order. The strategy adopted here would determine the success of the bot.

The precision with which the bot gathers market data and computes the technical indicators would be another factor that influences the profitability of the bot. Even the most accurate codes tend to have technical troubles. Codes that are thoroughly tested would be safer to use.

Remember that no matter how profitable a bot can be you should still make your decisions wisely. Not doing so might lead to losses instead of profits. When you need information you would find a lot of online resources that talk about trading bots in general. And if you need information about specific bots see here. The more you study about crypto trading the better you would be as a trader and the better would be the profits you make as well.

Match-performance-differs

Understanding the use of bots in crypto trading
If you have been using crypto currencies for trading then you must be aware of the boom of the crypto bots. Do a thorough research about the bot you choose before you make your deposit. Consider features like the simplicity of the user interface, provision for a demo account etc. to make your decision.
What is a crypto trading bot?
When you trade crypto currencies you would be functioning similar to equity traders. You would fix a price when you buy a currency and then a target price for selling the currency. Several of the daily activities can be automated with the help of relevant pieces of codes. The same is also applicable to the trading scenario. Crypto bots comprise of algorithms designed so as to abide by certain rules to take decisions. And once the decision is made the bot would then place the order for the trade- be it a buying order or a selling order.
There is an application programming interface or API that takes care of the exchanges that happen. When your bot is activated the APIs would act as the interface for the communication between the bot and the crypto currency exchange. So the trading bot chosen would be communicating with the trading exchanges in order to place your orders and help you buy and sell crypto currencies.
Bot forums are beneficial
If you find a useful reference that talks about bot trading or crypto trading in general then your job would get much easier. There are online forums available with most of the trading systems. All the users that use the corresponding bots can get in touch with each other and with the experts from the teams. The support system provided by the automated trading systems for crypto trading is quite impressive. The forum would be a great place for the new traders to communicate with the experienced traders and have a lot of their questions answered.
Bot trading is legal
Some have the wrong notion that bot trading is illegal. But the regulations being implemented across the world target only those scammers. This is a measure to give traders the credibility they would want in crypto trading. Trading bots have led to the increase in the number of traders significantly in the recent years. So market experts find trading bots to be a boon for the growth of the crypto currency market.

Sports Path’s Technical Report on the 2014 World Cup

The World Cup is over and Germany are still celebrating. And the first detailed analysis of the recently completed has arrived! Robin Russell of Sports Path and his colleagues have compiled their “World Cup Technical Report 2014”. In the first of which will likely be many analyses, their detailed look at the numbers offers some interesting observations.

The report team was comprised of analysts, coaches and coaching education specialists. They analyzed all of the matches played and prepared a report that is targeted for coaches who are interested in practical lessons from the World Cup. The team presents a wealth of interesting statistics. More importantly, they use those data to offer a number of implications for coaching, provide “common sense” answers to questions about their data and highlight what separated the winners from those who when home early.

2014 football world cup was 20th FIFA world cup, Brazil hosted the tournament, this was the second time for Brazil to host the tournament. Thirty one nations joined the tournament to compete against each other. Total of 64 matches were played in 12 different stadiums.  The tournament had 1 million viewers from 202 different countries, click to read more.

Here’s a short summary of they key findings:

Teams, which scored 3 or more goals in a match, had a 100% win probability.

The “Gold Zone” (GZ) – a box extending a few yards outside of either post and to the 18 yard line.

80% of the goals were from strikes taken inside of the GZ. However, most of the attempts were taken from outside of this area.

A greater percentage of shots taking within the GZ were on target compared to outside of the Gold Zone

Thus, strike attempts taken inside the GZ were more effective and more accurate.

Deliveries

The most productive zones for delivering the ball into the GZ were the areas identified as the Central Attacking Zone (CAZ – the box on top of the penalty area) and Box Pass Zone (BPZ – the two boxes just outside of the Gold Zone). That is, balls delivered from these areas were more likely to result in retained possession and higher rates of conversion.

However, teams relied more on deliveries outside of the CAZ and BPZ as well as corner kicks.

Transition and Scoring

In open play, 49% of all goals were scored within 5 seconds of regaining possession and over 80 % of goals were scored within 15 seconds of regaining the ball.

Distributions

Effective distributions by Goalkeepers played a role in securing attacking-third possessions. Teams should develop the technical and tactical abilities to transfer the ball from the defending to attacking third

Teams that directed their throw-ins away from the congested area and into a more spacious area were more effective in securing a possession in the attacking-third.

These are the highlights. There’s more, much more. To download a free receive copy of the Sports Path World Cup Technical Report 2014, visit Robin’s e-Learning Blog (CLICK HERE).
Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D. Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest
Labels: Original Research, Strategy

Player Perceptions of Artificial Turf

The use of artificial turf (AT) playing fields continues. Despite recent research on performance and health issues surrounding AT, debate over injury risks and heat still swirl around the topic of “playing on plastic”. The safe use of AT is a complex issue and perceptions can influence how players perform as well as their susceptibility to injury. A recent study shows that professional players generally view AT negatively and feel that it raises the risk of injury and results in more delayed-onset muscle and joint soreness. Some of their perceptions may be rooted in evidence while some may not. However, it is important for coaches and trainers to understand how players feel about playing and training on AT.

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The researchers collected surveys from 99 professional players from six MLS teams. They asked them to recall their experiences playing on AT and grass.

The survey yielded some important findings:

97% felt that playing and practicing on AT resulted in greater muscle and joint soreness.
90% felt that it took more time to recover after playing a match on AT.
94% felt that AT raised their risk of sustaining an injury.
Most players felt that AT was stiffer, had greater friction and exacted a greater metabolic cost than grass.
A large percentage agreed that the quality of the AT was an important factor in injury risk.

Overall, players had a negative perception of AT. They felt that AT increased the risk of injury and resulted in greater muscle fatigue and soreness. These perceptions seemed to be due to the mechanical properties of the turf.

The authors of the study mentioned that pre-established bias and personal experience may have shaped their opinion of AT. No doubt that a large percentage of public comments made by athletes and in the press about AT is negative. This can easily shape ones opinion of a particular playing surface. Also, comments provided by the players suggested that many have had negative experiences on AT: “All my 3 biggest injuries have happened on turf matches”, “Coming off back-to-back ACL tears… I feel mentally scared to play on turf”, “fear of having a cleat stick in the turf” and “The first time I played on (turf), I broke my 5th metatarsal”. Thus, it’s not surprising that players generally view AT negatively.

Are the player’s perceptions of increased injuries correct? We recently conducted a review of eight research studies looking at the rate of injuries on AT and grass. We found that playing or training on AT did not raise the risk of injury. This held for male and female players and for young and adult players. In fact, some injuries were actually lower on AT. Thus, from a research perspective, there is no evidence that playing on AT results in more injuries. However, this is a complicated issue.

Earlier research suggests that the player’s perception of greater fatigue and effort may be correct. The game does change when played of AT. Ball movement, passing sequences and playing tactics are different on AT compared to grass. For example, more short passes are attempted on AT along with fewer slide tackles. This is something that could increase effort, cause more fatigue and increase delayed-onset muscle soreness.

Fatigue along with muscle and joint soreness that persists 24-48 hours after a match can impact both performance and injury risk. In youth and college competitions, multiple matches are often played with limited time for recovery. There’s little debate that fatigue raises injury risk. If fatigue and soreness, either real or perceived, is greater after competing on AT, there is the possibility that injuries could occur during subsequent match, whether played on grass or AT. Regardless of the surface, injury risk may be increased due to greater fatigue or changes in movement patterns resulting from soreness.

Unfortunately, we could find no research on muscle soreness or markers of muscle damage after playing on AT. Injury studies classify an “injury” as something that prevents a player from participating for at least one day. While muscle soreness may hinder play, it usually doesn’t force a player to the sideline or count as an injury. Thus we can’t confirm the player’s perceptions of muscle and joint soreness after playing on AT. Neither can we discount them.

The authors of the study point out that it is important to understand player perceptions of AT. For example, if players routinely report more fatigue during the match as well as muscle and joint soreness 24-48 hours after a match, coaches can make adjustments in playing time and training schedule. Strategic substitutions and increased recovery may help players avoid injuries that result from short- and long-term fatigue. This is particularly true for teams where a Friday-Sunday schedule is played.

This study will not end the debate over playing and training on AT. It does confirm what many have long felt, many players prefer playing on natural grass and feel that it is a safer surface. It also emphasizes the need for more in-depth research into the use of AT fields. Understanding issues such as delayed onset muscle or joint soreness, effects of a congested calendar and long-term fatigue can go a long way in either confirming or allaying player perceptions.

Reference

Poulos CCN, Gallucci J, Gage WH, Baker J, Buitrago S, Macpherson AK (2014) The perceptions of professional soccer players on the risk of injury from competition and training on natural grass and 3rd generation artificial turf, BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 6:11

Fitness Training With Small-Sided Games

Peak performance during a soccer match involves many different factors. The most obvious are technical skills and tactical abilities. However, the factor that influences a player’s ability to perform over the course of a 70-90 minute match is his or her fitness level. From a scientific standpoint, fitness is defined as maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) and represents the maximal amount of oxygen that an athlete can breath in and convert into energy. The most common ways to increase VO2max is through either continuous running at around 50-60% of maximal heart rate or interval running using short, high-intensity bouts at about 80-90% of maximal heart rate. These types of training have been used by coaches for years to improve player’s fitness.
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Coaches usually have limited practice time with their players. So, it is difficult to squeeze in a 15-20 min running session when the technical and tactical abilities of the individual players and the team need to be addressed. One strategy that coaches use is small-sided training. This involves short matches using 2-8 players per side in a small grid. Several 2-5 minute games are played with a short rest periods in between. The idea behind small sided training is to incorporate all three aspects of soccer in a single drill: technical, tactical as well as fitness.
One way to judge how well a training program improves fitness VO2max is to determine the physiological demands of the drill. Most research studies show that during small sided training, heart rates can reach as high as 85-90% of maximal. Blood lactic acid levels can also reach 4-5 mmol/l and ratings of perceived effort typically describe the games as very difficult and near maximum. The heart rate, blood lactate and perceived effort responses to small sided games are all well within the responses found for interval running and higher than continuous running. That is, small sided games can be as physically demanding as performing repeated bouts of high intensity running.One characteristic that distinguishes small sided training from interval running is the coach’s ability to vary the intensity of the training (Rampinini et al. 2007). By changing the number of players, the size of the grid, the match length or recovery interval, intensity can be increased or decreased. A recent study examining these variables found that 3v3 matches played on a large grid (18x30m) elicited greater heart rates than those played on a small grid (12x20m). As the number of players increased from 3v3 to 6v6, the intensity of the effort tended to decrease, especially if the grid size remained small. Coaches can also elevate the overall intensity of the drill by increasing the match duration to around 4 minutes and by using an active recovery interval of 2-3 minutes. They can further change the intensity of the drill by providing verbal encouragement or by simply letting the players play. Thus, the intensity of the small sided games can be varied by changing a few variables. This allows the coach to tailor the practice to meet the needs of the team.The effectiveness of small sided games is seen in the fitness improvements over the course of a season. Recent research shows that following an eight month season where players trained with small sided games, fitness was markedly improved (Impellizzeri et al., 2006). The distance covered during a Yo-Yo test was increased and VO2max improved. Also, a recent study out of Italy found in soccer players who trained using small sided game training had similar improvements on endurance tests and match performance as did players who trained by running. Based on this, it is clear that small sided games can improve fitness and that the changes are similar to those caused by interval and continuous running.

From a practical standpoint, the coach should vary the intensity of the games based on a session by session basis. Intensity should either be increased or decreased based on the players needs: their current level of fitness, recent training session or match intensity and overall level of fatigue / tiredness. In general, players should not be training at the highest intensity every session. This is particularly true after intense matches. Repeatedly training players at the highest intensity can lead to “burnout” and can increase the risk of injury. Rather the intensity should be tailored to the situation at hand. A few guidelines are provided in the table.

 

Variable High Intensity Low Intensity
Number of players 3 v 3 6 v 6
Grid Size Large grid Small grid
Number of Matches 4-5 3-4
Duration 4 minutes 3 minutes
Recovery 2-3 minutes of light jogging 3-4 minutes of rest
Coaching Verbal encouragement Let the kids play


All of the available research indicates that small sided games are very effective at improving the player’s level of fitness. The physiological improvements and match performances after this type of training are similar to those that occur with interval or distance running. The advantages of small sided training are numerous. The intensity can be easily varied by the coach to elicit an optimal training response. The technical and tactical aspects of the game are stressed. Lastly, the players seem to prefer the competitive nature of the activity as opposed run training. Thus, there is a string case for using small sided games as a way to improve player fitness.

Further Reading:

Rampinini E, Impellizzeri FM, Castagna C, Abt G, Chamari K, Sassi A, Marcora SM. (2007) Factors influencing physiological responses to small-sided soccer games. Journal of Sports Sciences. 25:659-666.

Impellizzeri FM, Marcora SM, Castagna C, Reilly T, Sassi A, Iaia FM, Rampinini E. (2006) Physiological and performance effects of generic versus specific aerobic training in soccer players. International Journal of Sports Medicine. 27: 483-492.

Cutting-Edge Research: PK Shootouts, Pressure and Choking

Choking under pressure is far too common at all levels of sport. Choking occurs when players under perform in situations where there is a high degree of importance. In soccer, the highest-pressure situation is the penalty kick shootouts. Individual efforts can often mean the difference between winning and losing a championship. Some players step forward and bury their kicks. Others choke, sometimes missing the goal entirely.

What causes some players for succeed and some to choke during high pressure situations? Drs. Geir Jordet and Esther Hartmen of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences addressed this question in a research article published in the August 2008 issue of the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. Their study focused on the success and behavior of players taking penalty kicks and pressures surrounding their effort.

The investigators viewed video tapes of penalty kick shootouts that occurred during matches played in the World Cup, European Championships and Champions League competitions between 1972 and 2006. Overall, there were 36 shootouts involving 359 kicks and 291 players.

They focused on three key variables that affected success. The first was “valence”, an indicator of the perceived pressure. Many times, the outcome of the match is not directly dependent on the success of the attempt. The shootout goes on whether the kicker is successful or not. For example, the match is neither won nor lost on the first attempt in a shootout. This is referred to as a neutral valence. At some point during the shootout, a player has the chance to end patch with a successful kick. With a goal, his team wins. But with a miss, the shootout continues. This is defined as a positive valence because of the possible positive outcome. On the other hand, players are faced with the situation where a missed kick would end the match and result in the team losing. This is negative valence because of the possibility of a negative result.

The second variable was “avoidance behavior”. Approach looking players placed the ball at the penalty mark then walked backwards, facing the keeper, in preparation for the attempt. Avoidance looking players, placed the ball, turned and walked away with their back to the keeper.

The final variable was preparation speed. This was defined as the time from when the referee signaled the kick to until the shooter began his run-up. This is a time period that can be controlled by the player.

The investigators found several interesting relationships between these variables and success of the penalty kick. In the situation of negative valence, when losing the match was a possibility, players more often avoided looking at the goal keeper and took less preparation time. As for performance, players were far more successful in the situation of positive valence. When making the kick meant victory and a miss meant continuing the shootout, players were successful 92% of the time. However, when faced with negative valence, players made only 62% of their shots. Thus, the possibility of a negative outcome results in more misses than the potential of a positive result. This condition also seems to cause players to alter their approach to taking the shot.

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Choking under pressure is a very complex phenomenon. Many, many factors contribute to performance under pressure situations. This study provides a small glimpse into how and why players playing at the highest level sometimes fail.

Reference

Jordet G, Hartmen E (2008) Avoidance motivation and choking under pressure in soccer penalty shootouts. Journal of Sports and Exercise Psychology, 30:450-457.
Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D. Labels: Goalkeepers, Psychology

Pitch Size, Fitness and Technical Training

Small-sided matches are often used by coaches to develop fitness of his/her team. The advantage is that fitness can be improved within the context of the game. This type of training also emphasizes both technical and tactical abilities. A number of variables can be altered when designing a small-sided game such as the number of players and rules modification. Another key component of small sided matches is the size of the playing area. A new study from researchers the University of Basque County in Spain highlights the ability of small sided matches to improve both physical and skill performance by varying the pitch size. This investigation shows that by changing the playing area, fitness or technical skills can be emphasized.

Ten 16 year-old boys played 5v5 matches (plus a goal keeper) on pitches of three different sizes. The large pitch was 62 x 44m (roughly half of a full-sized pitch), the medium pitch was 50 x 35m and the small pitch was 23 x 23m. Matches lasted 8 minutes and players were instructed to play without input from the coaches. Each player was fitted with a heart rate monitor and portable GPS to track physiological and physical profiles. Matches were also filmed to determine technical behaviors such as tackles, dribbles, passes, etc.

The physiological responses varied based on the pitch size. The large pitch elicited slightly higher heart rates and players spent 50% of the match exercising at more than 90% of their maximal heart rate. On the small pitch, only 41% of the match was spent exercising in this heart rate zone. During the large pitch matches, players covered about 1000m compared to slightly less than 700m on the small pitch. Also, the large pitch required the players to perform more high-speed sprints per match (6 versus 1). Thus, small-sided matches played on a large pitch elicit greater physiological responses. That is, they are more taxing on the cardiovascular system compared to matches played on a small pitch – a key to developing cardiovascular fitness.

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The lower physiological response to the small pitch matches may be due to the amount of time the ball was in play. Over the course of all matches, there were several stoppages for goals, fouls, throw-ins, etc. On the large pitch, the ball was in play for 82% of the 8-minute period, compared to only 68% for the small pitch. Thus, when on the large pitch, players played for over a minute more than when on the small pitch. The investigators assume that when the ball is not in play, players generally stop moving, thereby reducing the demand on the cardiovascular system.

On the other hand, matches played on the small pitch required more technical skills. During these matches, number of interceptions, ball control, clearances, restarts and shots were all greater than when playing on the large pitch. For example, on the small pitch there were about 11 interceptions per match compared to only 6 for the large pitch. Thus, small sided matches elicit a greater number of technical skills.

This study’s results suggest that coaches can the demands of training by varying the pitch size of small-sided games. Expanding the size will emphasize fitness components whereas shrinking the pitch forces players to focus on technical skills. Previous studies also emphasized that the physiological intensity of small-sided matches can also be affected by varying the recovery interval between consecutive matches and by using verbal encouragement (see previous SSO article). Technical skills and tactical awareness can be further stressed by providing constraints such as two-touch rules.

In the end, this study provides more evidence that small-sided games can be a very effective training tool. They can be used to improve fitness and technical skills and tactical knowledge. The key is for coaches to design their training session and vary the games to meet the needs of their team.

Reference:

Casamichana D, Castellano J (2010) Time-motion, heart rate, perceptual and motor behavior demands in small-sided games: Effects of pitch size. Journal of Sports Sciences, DOI:10.1080/02640414.2010.521168

Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D. Labels: Current Research, Training

Antioxidant Supplements – Are They Needed?

Everyday it seems that new supplements are appearing on the market. One group of nutritional supplements that has received a lot of attention in the past few years is antioxidants. Vitamins such as C, E and beta-carotene along with fruits like blueberries and strawberries are considered powerful antioxidants. Some claim that these have many health benefits including enhanced exercise performance. Is this true? Can antioxidants benefit athletes? Dr. Scott Powers of the University of Florida is one of the leading researchers on exercise and antioxidants. He has published a review article focusing on antioxidant supplementation and performance. In his review, he concludes that there is actually little scientific evidence in favor of supplementation and that supplementation with high doses may do more harm than good.

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What exactly are antioxidants? Antioxidants are a class of compounds that fight off reactive oxygen. Chemically speaking, reactive oxygen (or oxygen radicals) is formed when oxygen molecules lose an electron. This makes the molecule highly unstable and reactive. These molecules can then damage proteins, membranes and DNA. Such “oxidative damage” can lead to cell death, and is linked to many disorders including some cancers. Antioxidants scavenge reactive oxygen and protect cells from damage.

Reactive oxygen is formed during the normal course of metabolism. Some conditions lead to greater production and a condition known as oxidative stress occurs. Cells are equipped with its own antioxidant defenses so that most conditions of oxidative stress are easily handled by the cell. In some pathological conditions, oxidative stress can be very large greater or the cells own antioxidant defenses are suspect. Under either these conditions, reactive oxygen accumulates and the damaging to various cells can be severe.

During exercise, metabolism increases 10-20 times normal. As a result, the muscle cells undergo a period of oxidative stress and there is a rise the in amount of reactive oxygen produced. However, this rise is relatively small and very temporary compared to clinical conditions. Nevertheless, some researchers have linked this exercise-induced oxidative stress to exercise performance. They feel that it plays a key role in fatigue during prolonged activity lasting more than 30 minutes. By providing greater defense against reactive oxygen through supplementation, fatigue can be delayed.

On the other hand, many researchers point out that normal, healthy individuals have more than enough natural antioxidants to protect against oxygen radicals. This is especially true during exercise. Enzymes and antioxidant compounds found within muscle cells are more than capable of fighting off reactive oxygen. In fact, one of the benefits of exercise training is enhanced protection against oxidative stress – training builds greater defense. This adaptation leads this group to argue that reactive oxygen plays little if any role in the development of fatigue.

Given this debate, will do antioxidant supplements improve exercise performance?

The compound N-acetylcystine (NAC) may have some positive effects on performance. A few laboratory studies show that NAC delays fatigue under some conditions. Unfortunately, the methods used in these studies raise questions about the practicality of using NAC. For instance, one study shows positive effects after 35 minutes of intravenous infusion of NAC. Needles to say, most athletes cannot nor should not take such a pre-match approach. A few other studies show little or no effect of ingesting NAC on performance. So while there may be some potential for NAC to delay fatigue, there is not enough evidence to suggest that athletes use it as a performance enhancer.

As for nutritional antioxidants such as vitamins C, E or beta carotene, the research is much clearer. The vast majority of scientific studies show that supplementation with these vitamins has very little effect on performance. The vast majority of research studies all agree on this point. Further, a review of more than 68 clinical trials emphasize that dietary supplementation with these vitamins does not appreciably improve health. As it turns out, a well balanced diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables provides plenty of antioxidants and little benefits are gained by supplementation.

In his review, Dr. Powers emphasizes an important point. New evidence indicates combating exercise-induced oxidative stress may actually do more harm than good. Reactive oxygen seems to trigger the muscle to adapt to training. The brief rise during exercise stimulates the muscle to produce the machinery needed to improve function (and to combat oxidative stress). This includes muscle proteins as well as mitochondria and enzymes needed for energy production. Two recent studies emphasize this point. Both show that supplementing the diet with large amounts of vitamin E and C (~16 times the RDA for an adult) blunt the training adaptation to exercise.

The bottom line is that antioxidant supplements are not needed for otherwise healthy athletes who have solid nutritional habits. The only exception is athletes who do not eat a proper diet. Those who skip meals, don’t eat proper servings of fruits and vegetables or try to lose excess weight by cutting calories may benefit from a vitamin supplement that contains antioxidants. Otherwise, a healthy diet will provide more than adequate defense against oxidative stress and allow training adaptations. Supplementing the diet with antioxidants will not provide an added training benefit.

Finally, it should be pointed out that nearly all of the studies addressing the ability of antioxidants to improve performance were carried out with adult subjects. There is little if any research on adolescents or pre-adolescents. This makes it even more difficult to recommend antioxidant supplements to young athletes. Neither the positive nor potentially negative effects of short- or long-term use are understood. Thus, at this time, young players should focus on proper nutrition rather than supplement use.

Reference:

Stear SJ, Burke LM, Castell LM, Powers SK, Kavazis AN, Nelson WB, Ernst E (2009) BJSM Reviews: A-Z of nutritional supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance Part 3. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43:890-892.
Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D. Labels: Current Research, Nutrition, Supplements

Recreational Soccer: The Magic Pill for Adult Health?

Many adults are engaged in a never ending search for the “magic pill” that will improve their health and wellbeing. This is the focus of many fitness products and nutritional supplements that advertise extraordinary gains in health with little effort. Others spend countless hours pound away on the treadmill, stationary bicycle or elliptical machine in an effort to lose weight, improve fitness and avoid health complications. While we may never find that magic pill we may have found a balance between monotonous exercise and the lure of a quick fix. A recent research review argues that sedentary adults who participate in recreational soccer programs reap the same benefits as those who engage in more traditional exercise routines.

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This post focuses on a review article by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. The article is a part a special issue of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports that is devoted to the health benefits of soccer. In weeks to come, we will be discussing other articles in this journal. For now, the focus is on adults and recreational soccer programs.

The researchers analyzed research studies focused on the health and fitness effects of recreational soccer. The approach they took was rather unique. Most agree that placing sedentary adults in ANY type of exercise program, including recreational soccer, will improve fitness and other health markers. In this review, the Copenhagen researchers also compared the effects of soccer to the effects of other types of exercise, specifically jogging, interval running and strength training.

In general, the studies examined sedentary adult subjects who participated in recreational soccer programs. The ages of the subjects were not specifically listed but were identified as “adults”. Most of the available studies used male subjects but a few focused on women. The programs lasted between 10 and 24 weeks and subjects typically played 3 times per week for 30-60 min per session. Training session usually involved small-sided games but some used 11v11 matches.

What follows is a summary of the overall findings and conclusions.

Fitness: Subject engaged in soccer training improved their VO2max by an average of 13%. Improvements were made using both full- and small-sided matches. When compared to jogging or interval running programs of similar training hours, the improvements in fitness via soccer were similar.

Cardiovascular Effects: Soccer training lead to reductions in resting blood pressure and resting heart rate. The effects on blood pressure were most pronounced in subjects with the highest initial levels. In addition, the researchers concluded that the improvements have significant health effects for the participants such as reduced risk for stroke and heart attack.

Blood lipids were also improved through soccer training. LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) was lowered and HDL cholesterol (the good type) was elevated after training. In addition, improved glucose tolerance and muscle enzyme levels in Type II diabetic patients occurred when soccer training was combined with nutritional advice. All of the changes due to recreational soccer participation were similar to those found using other exercise programs.

Body Composition: The soccer training programs show small reductions in body fat and increase in lean body mass. The changes in lean body mass reflect increases in muscle mass and muscle fiber hypertrophy. Such changes are not normally seen after jogging or interval running. Muscle fiber hypertrophy observed after soccer training (~15%) was nearly the same as that seen after weight training in men of similar age (~18%). Soccer also elicited changes in neuromuscular control that may improve balance and reduce the risk of falls and joint injuries.

Bone Mass: A few studies found that bone health was improved after soccer training. Bone mass in the legs, hip and lumbar spine were all increased. The changes were much greater than those that occurred after jogging and interval running and similar to weight training.

Perceived Effort: Perhaps one of the most important findings was that ratings of perceived exertion during soccer training were lower than those recorded during running. That is, when exercising at similar work rates and intensities, soccer participants felt a reduced sense of effort – they didn’t perceive themselves as working as hard as the runners. This may be linked to factors such as the focus and enjoyment of playing soccer and the social interactions with teammates. The more participants enjoy their exercise program, the greater their level of participation and the greater the health benefits.

Injury Risk: On the downside, the risk of injury may be somewhat greater in soccer programs that in other exercise programs – especially given the movement patterns and potential for contact injury. However, this is a difficult comparison to make since many of the risk injury studies don’t consider the intensity of the program. The Copenhagen researchers calculated that in the all of the studies reviewed,

Reference:

Krustrup P, Aagaard P, Nybo L, Peterson J, Mohr M, Bangsbo J (2010) Recreational football as a health promoting activity: A topical review. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01108.x
Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D. Labels: Health, Training

Should We Have Expected John Brooks’ Goal?

Yesterday in a thrilling match, US defender John Brooks scored in the 86th minute to secure a win over for the Americans over Ghana. The goal came off of a corner kick delivered by Graham Zusi. An exciting play for sure and a critical 3 points for the US. But, at this point in the World Cup competition should we have expected a goal to come from a corner kick?

In the 2010 World Cup, 627 corners were taken that resulted in 9 goals. That’s an average of one goal scored for every 70 corners attempted. Graham Zusi’s was the 126th corner taken so far in this year’s competition. Prior to the US goal, Switzerland and German scored the only goals from corner kicks. Add the US goal and we have 3 goals scored from 127 corners (Ghana had one CK after the US goal). That’s an average of 1 goal every 42.3 attempts. Slightly less than the 2010 average.

Based on the 2010 statistics, should we have expected the US to score? The average so far is about nine corner kicks per match so the next corner kick goal should have come about three matches later, not in this match. Given that stat, should the US have played a short corner and kept possession? Obviously not! They clearly made the right call. All statistics have some degree of randomness, outliers that occur outside of what is expected. And this is what makes the game so exciting – goals coming at unexpected times from unexpected players. In this case, John Brooks and Graham Zusi created their own outlier – an unexpected goal that earned the US the win.
Posted by Jay Williams, Ph.D.