Cutting-Edge Research: Sprint and Coordination Training in Preadolescent Players

During the pre-teen years, players undergo marked changes as their neuromuscular system develops. This is a time where tremendous gains are made in stature, strength, coordination and skill. However, the neuromuscular adaptations of young athletes are considerably different than older players. Thus, young players may require more specific training to improve performance. A study by researchers at the Universita degli Studi di Verona indicates that a program of coordination training is as effective as sprint training at increasing sprint speed. However, the coordination training program is far superior at improving sprinting with the ball.
Read more!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cutting-Edge Research: Compression Shorts and Muscular Performance

Some manufacturers of compression shorts claim that their garments improve muscle circulation, enhance performance and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness. Indeed, many athletes feel that compression shorts are a necessity. Are these claims true? What does research say about the use of compression shorts? A recent study to be published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport suggests that the effects of compression shorts on performance and recovery from exercise are minimal. However, a review of several research studies does hint at some potential benefit.The cutting edge technology and continuous research in the financial industry has paved way for many innovative methods of online trading. Bitcoin Trader is one such online trading software that uses the robots to perform all the tasks related to trading crypto currencies. It is developed with the help of complex algorithms and superior technology. This helps the system to identify profitable investment opportunities in the crypto market.
Read more!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cutting-Edge Research: Offsetting Fatigues Effects on Passing Accuracy

American football coaches often use the quote, “fatigue makes cowards of us all”. Fatigue can also have other negative effects on performance. An earlier post described what happens to passing accuracy as fatigue develops. Using the Loughborough Soccer Passing Test (LSPT), researchers showed that fatigue, whether caused by match-play or high-intensity running markedly reduced the accuracy of short passes. In a new study appearing in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, researchers found that a four week program of interval training lessened the effects of fatigue on passing accuracy. They suggest that aerobic training might benefit players in terms of maintaining their technical skills at the end of a match.
Read more!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cutting Edge Research: A Modified Version of the FIFA 11 Reduces Injury Rate In Young Women.

The FIFA 11 training program focuses on core stability, balance, and neuromuscular control as part of a warm-up routine. The goal is to lower the risk of knee and ankle injury in female players. A previous post on the Science of Soccer Online reviewed two studies suggesting that the “FIFA 11” injury prevention program may not be as effective as advertised. The authors of these studies felt that the program’s effectiveness may be limited by the lack of progression (increasing intensity as players improved fitness). A new study used a modified version of the program that was more intense and includes different levels of progression. The researchers found that total injuries, overuse injuries and severe injuries were all reduced in teams using the program. The researcher also found that a key component of the effectiveness was compliance. Those teams with higher compliance, experienced lower injury rates. These findings are very encouraging – including a 20 minute training routine as part of the daily warm-up may markedly reduce the risk of injury in young, female athletes.
Read more!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Genetic Testing of Young Athletes?

“If you want to be an elite athlete, you should choose your parents wisely!” This tongue in cheek statement, often made by sport scientists emphasizes the importance of genetics in determining athletic performance. In fact, research shows that genetics may determine anywhere from 20-80% of the variation sports performance. Genetics influences many factors such as cardiorespiratory function, muscle biochemistry, body size and motor skills. Until now, sports scientists haven’t been able to identify specific genes that might contribute to athletic performance. New research, however, has identified a potential link between sprint performance and the gene ATCN-3. Research studies report that elite sprint and power athletes possess this gene whereas elite endurance athletes do not. This has lead to a number of articles in the popular press discussing the potential of genetic testing in children. The goal is to determine if they are predisposed to certain types of activities. Unfortunately the science linking the ACTN-3 gene and performance is not quite as clear cut as some suggest.
Read more!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Knowledge Transfer: Are Sport Scientists “Bridging the Gap”?

As pointed out on the Science of Soccer Online, there are a number of top-notch researchers conducting exciting and valuable research into all areas of soccer. However, it’s not completely clear if this information received by coaches and being applied to their teams. A new article appearing the International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching examines the relationship between coaches and sport scientists. The authors found that coaches are aware that research is being conducted in areas of nutrition, injury prevention, equipment, psychology and fitness. However, coaches feel that academicians do not do a very good job of translating research into practical applications. As such, coaches do not take advantage sport scientists, universities and various research councils. These findings suggest that a better effort needs to be made to “bridge the gap” between research and performance on the pitch.
Read more!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Cutting-Edge Research: Do Soccer Headgears Protect Both Men and Women Against Injury?

Soccer headgears such as the Full 90 and Head Blast Soccer Band are becoming increasingly popular as a tool to protect against head injuries. However, a recent study completed at Temple, Towson and George Mason Universities suggests that they do not offer protection as much protection as advertised, especially in women. Head acceleration (a measure of the rate of head “recoil”) and the head injury criterion (HIC) during standing front headers, were actually increased in women who were wearing headgear compared to wearing no protection. In men, these values were slightly reduced. It appears that the lack of protection in the women is related to the lack of neck muscle strength. The authors of the study suggest that soccer headgear may not be an appropriate protective device for all players.
Read more!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cutting-Edge Research: Can Shoe Orthotics Reduce ACL Injury Risk?

ACL injuries in female athletes remain a growing problem. In the post below as well as in others, the role of knee valgus in raisingthe risk of ACL injury has been discussed. Earlier posts also emphasize the importance of neuromuscular training to reduce the risk of ACL injury. In a new study, researchers at the University of Connecticut raise the possibility that the use of orthotic insoles may provide an immediate protection against injury. Using a medial “wedge” placed inside the shoe, knee valgus (a knock-kneed postion) during a drop jump was reduced. Since excessive knee valgus places the ACL under stress, this finding suggests that orthotics may help reduce the risk of ACL injuries. Despite these promising results, there are a few words of caution.
Read more!

Cutting-Edge Research: Fatigue Increases ACL Injury Risk

As posted previously on the Science of Soccer Online, females are far more susceptible to non-contact anterior cruciate injuries (click here). There are a number of factors that increase this risk. One of those factors is the biomechanics of landing and cutting. During these maneuvers, women tend to land with a position of knee valgus (a knock-kneed position) which increases stress on the ACL.

A recent study shows that the combination of neuromuscular fatigue and unanticipated movement alters hip and knee biomechanics in female athletes. Fatigue results in less hip flexion during single leg landing. This is compensated by increased inward hip rotation and greater knee valgus (the knee tends to run inward), biomechanical alterations that are exaggerated during unanticipated maneuvers. This landing position places the ACL at greater risk of injury. Technical and neuromuscular training may help avoid this scenario.
Read more!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Training, Colds, Flu and Respiratory Infections

As the soccer season moves into the cold and flu season, it becomes more and more important for players to take precaution against illness. The months of November through February can be a time when practices become more intense as players ready themselves for end of the year tournaments. In addition, the stress of school work, college recruiting and the holiday season increases during this period. The combined effects of physiological, psychological and emotional stress can compromise the immune system and leave players more susceptible to colds, flu and upper respiratory infections. There are a few things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing these illnesses. By paying attention to diet and managing both physical and psychological stressors, players may be able to avoid developing sickness.
Read more!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cutting Edge Research: Evaluation of FIFA’s “The 11” Injury Prevention Program

Injuries in soccer are an unfortunate but real part of the game. This is particularly true in women who are far more susceptible to non-contact ACL injuries than are men. A few years back F-MARC, an expert medical panel convened by FIFA, developed a structured warm-up program designed to reduce the incidence of injury. The program was designed based on previous research into injury prevention and established practices of rehabilitation. This evidence based and best practice program was named “The 11” and consists of 10 exercises plus one fair play component. The exercises include plyometrics, strength, flexibility and neuromuscular training and are designed to be completed in about 15-20 minutes as part of the regular warm-up.

Two studies just released however, found that The 11 may not be as successful in reducing injuries or improving performance as hoped. However, the authors of these studies provide some specific recommendations for modifying The 11 in an effort to improve its effectiveness.
Read more!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cutting Edge Research: Imagery and Playing with Confidence

Michael Emenalo, Chief Scout of Chelsea, stresses the importance of confidence, balance and organization for success on the pitch. Confident players, for the most part, have a better touch on the ball, execute more precise passes and shoot the ball with more accuracy. Confident players are also willing to take calculated chances such as taking a difficult shot, or aggressively pressuring an opponent. On the other hand, less confident players have difficulty with technical execution and tend to play a less aggressive, more conservative style. In many cases it, it the confident player and confident team that wins the match.

So, how does one gain confidence? A new study soon to be released in the Journal of Sports Sciences argues that confidence in youth players might be enhanced by using mental imagery techniques.
Read more!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cutting-Edge Research: Milk, The Ideal Recovery Drink?

One of the most important aspects of high-level athletic performance is the ability to recover quickly from a day’s match or training session. Recovery is the first step in readying the body for the challenges of the next day. For years, researchers have dedicated considerable time and effort towards developing foods and beverages that aid the recovery process. Companies such as Gatorade have devoted countless resources and entire divisions of their corporations towards this goal. The Gatorade Sports Science Institute has supported research into nutrition and hydration for many years and has played a key role formulating much of what we currently know about sports nutrition and recovery.

Despite years for research, it may be that the best recovery drink has always sat quietly in the refrigerators of nearly every soccer players home. Recent research suggests that it’s the drink our moms urged us to drink as young children – milk.
Read more!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Cutting-Edge Research: Do Goalkeeper Shorts Offer Protection Against Injury?

The demands of soccer matches and training often place goalkeepers at greater risk of injury than field players. Keepers are routinely knocked to the ground or required dive to the ground in an effort to thwart goal scoring opportunities. Hip injures are particularly common to goalkeepers. They are particularly susceptible to injuries ranging from minor bumps and bruises to major hip fractures. Dr. Kai-Uwe Schmitt of the University and ETH of Zurich has published a pair of research papers that focus on the incidence of goalkeeper hip injuries as well as the ability of padded short to protect the athlete. Dr. Schmitt found that goalkeepers suffer a number of injuries to the hip, especially during training, and that protective shorts do little in the way of prevention. His papers appear in recent issues of the British Journal of Sports Medicine and Sportverletzung Sportschaden.
Read more!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Cutting Edge Research – Medications and Supplement Use During the World Cup

** UPDATE **

The main focus of drug use in sports has focused on doping agents or banned substances. Several studies have characterized the magnitude of banned substance use among various groups of athletes. however, the extent to which athletes use legally prescribed medication, over-the-counter medications and nutritional supplements is not widely known. This is certainly the case with professional soccer.

In a study appearing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center surveyed teams participating in the 2002 and 2006 world Cup. Their goal was to determine the types of legal medications and nutritional supplements being used and the incidence of their use. The result show high incidences of pain medication and vitamin and mineral supplementation. However, there was a relatively low incidence of nutritional supplement use.
Read more!