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Sports, Volume 11, Issue 9 (September 2023) – 27 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Hypertension and arterial stiffness are significant factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. L-citrulline, a nitric oxide precursor, has been proposed as a nutritional, non-pharmacological blood-pressure-lowering intervention. This study aimed to investigate the impact of L-citrulline on central and peripheral blood pressure, pulse wave reflection, and central arterial stiffness at rest and during an isometric knee extension exercise protocol. Twelve older males received 6 g of L-citrulline or a placebo for six days using a double-blind crossover design. The results of the present study do not support any blood-pressure-lowering effect of short-term L-citrulline at rest or during low-intensity isometric exercise compared to the pre-exercise values in older males. View this paper
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11 pages, 754 KiB  
Review
Predicting Risk Factors of Lower Extremity Injuries in Elite Women’s Football: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Sports 2023, 11(9), 187; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090187 - 20 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1081
Abstract
This study identified and analyzed the risk factors of lower extremity injuries (LEI) in elite women football players to improve career and health outcomes. To address this aim, a systematic review and meta-analysis methodology was used. In total, four relevant research articles were [...] Read more.
This study identified and analyzed the risk factors of lower extremity injuries (LEI) in elite women football players to improve career and health outcomes. To address this aim, a systematic review and meta-analysis methodology was used. In total, four relevant research articles were identified through database searching and screening using the PRISMA flow diagram. From these articles, eight predictors were identified that influence the risk of LEI among elite women football players: higher body mass index (OR 1.51, 95% CI); previous knee injury (OR 3.57, 95% CI); low normalized knee separation (≤10th percentile) (RR 1.92, 95% CI); all previous injury (previous ACL tear: OR 5.24, 95% CI; ankle sprain: 1.39, 95% CI; knee sprain: 1.50, 95% CI); and previous injury in the lower body (OR 2.97, 95% CI). Meanwhile, lower knee valgus angle in a drop-jump landing (OR 0.64, 95% CI) was found to decrease the risk of LEI among elite women football players. Full article
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13 pages, 2010 KiB  
Article
Comparison of Ultra-Short Race Pace and High-Intensity Interval Training in Age Group Competitive Swimmers
Sports 2023, 11(9), 186; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090186 - 18 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1908
Abstract
The aim of this study was tο examine the acute responses to an Ultra-Short Race Pace Training (USRPT) and a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), both oriented for the event of 100 m freestyle. Eighteen national-level swimmers (8 boys, 10 girls) aged 13.5 ± [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was tο examine the acute responses to an Ultra-Short Race Pace Training (USRPT) and a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), both oriented for the event of 100 m freestyle. Eighteen national-level swimmers (8 boys, 10 girls) aged 13.5 ± 0.1 years, with 8.0 ± 0.5 years of experience participated in the study. All participants completed a USRPT and a HIIT protocol consisting of 2 × 10 × 25 m (USRPT1 & USRPT2) and 5 × 50 m. Significantly higher swimming velocity (SV) were achieved in USRPT compared to HIIT (p < 0.001), while significantly lower distance per stroke (DPS) and stroke index (SI) were obtained (p = 0.007 and p < 0.001). Also, significantly lower blood lactate and glucose (BL & BG) concentrations were found after USRPT (p ≤ 0.001 and p = 0.037). Heart rate (HR) and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were significantly lower after USRPT than HIIT (p < 0.001 and p = 0.015). According to the results, an USRPT swimming set consisting of 20 × 25 m at a 100 m pace seems to induce more specific responses in kinematic characteristics, biomarkers, HR and RPE compared to a 5 × 50 m HIIT set. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Health and Performance of Water Based Exercise and Sports)
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13 pages, 4964 KiB  
Article
Muscle Activation and Ground Reaction Force between Single-Leg Drop Landing and Jump Landing among Young Females during Weight-Acceptance Phase
Sports 2023, 11(9), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090185 - 18 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1358
Abstract
Single-leg drop landing (SLDL) and jump landing (SLJL) are frequently used as assessment tools for identifying potential high-risk movement patterns; thus, understanding differences in neuromuscular responses between these types of landings is essential. This study aimed to compare lower extremity neuromuscular responses between [...] Read more.
Single-leg drop landing (SLDL) and jump landing (SLJL) are frequently used as assessment tools for identifying potential high-risk movement patterns; thus, understanding differences in neuromuscular responses between these types of landings is essential. This study aimed to compare lower extremity neuromuscular responses between the SLDL and SLJL. Thirteen female participants performed an SLDL and SLJL from a 30-cm box height. Vertical ground reaction force (vGRF), time to peak vGRF, and surface electromyography (sEMG) data were collected. Continuous neuromuscular responses, peak vGRF, and time to peak vGRF were compared between the tasks. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) analysis demonstrated that the SLJL had a significantly higher sEMG activity in the rectus femoris (RF), vastus lateralis (VL) and vastus medialis (VM) within the first 10% of the landing phase compared with SLDL. At 20–30% of the landing phase, sEMGs in the RF and VL during the SLDL were significantly higher compared with SLJL (p < 0.05). A higher peak vGRF and shorter time to peak vGRF was observed during SLJL (p < 0.05). In conclusion, our findings highlight that SLJL exhibited greater RF, VL, and VM activities than SLDL at initial impact (10% landing), coinciding with a higher peak vGRF and shorter time to attain peak vGRF. Our findings support the role of the quadriceps as the primary energy dissipator during the SLJL. Full article
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24 pages, 2404 KiB  
Article
Development of a Cutting Technique Modification Training Program and Evaluation of its Effects on Movement Quality and Cutting Performance in Male Adolescent American Football Players
Sports 2023, 11(9), 184; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090184 - 17 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1201
Abstract
This study developed a cutting technique modification training program and investigated its effects on cutting performance and movement quality in adolescent American football players. For six weeks, an intervention group (IG) of 11 players participated in 25 min cutting technique modification training sessions [...] Read more.
This study developed a cutting technique modification training program and investigated its effects on cutting performance and movement quality in adolescent American football players. For six weeks, an intervention group (IG) of 11 players participated in 25 min cutting technique modification training sessions integrated into team training twice a week, while a control group (CG) of 11 players continued their usual team training. Movement quality was assessed by evaluating 2D high-speed videos, obtained during preplanned 45° and 90° cutting tests, using the Cutting Movement Assessment Score (CMAS) qualitative screening tool. Cutting performance was assessed based on change of direction deficit (CODD). Significant interaction effects of time × group were found for CMAS in 45° and 90° cuttings (p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.76, p < 0.001, ηp2 = 0.64, respectively), with large improvements in the IG (p < 0.001, g = −2.16, p < 0.001, g = −1.78, respectively) and deteriorations in the CG for 45° cuttings (p = 0.002, g = 1.15). However, no statistically significant differences in CODD were observed pre-to-post intervention. The cutting technique modification training was effective at improving movement quality without impairing cutting performance, and it can be used by practitioners working with adolescent athletes. Full article
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9 pages, 2205 KiB  
Brief Report
Coconut Water: A Sports Drink Alternative?
Sports 2023, 11(9), 183; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090183 - 14 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1824
Abstract
Coconut water is used as an alternative to conventional sports drinks for hydration during endurance cycling; however, evidence supporting its use is limited. This study determined if drinking coconut water compared to a sports drink altered cycling performance and physiology. In a randomized [...] Read more.
Coconut water is used as an alternative to conventional sports drinks for hydration during endurance cycling; however, evidence supporting its use is limited. This study determined if drinking coconut water compared to a sports drink altered cycling performance and physiology. In a randomized crossover trial, 19 experienced male (n = 15) and female (n = 4) cyclists (age 30 ± 9 years, body mass 79 ± 11 kg, V̇O2 peak 55 ± 8 mL·kg−1·min−1) completed two experimental trials, consuming either a commercially available sports drink or iso-calorific coconut water during 90 min of sub-maximal cycling at 70% of their peak power output, followed by a simulated, variable gradient, 20 km time trial. Blood glucose, lactate, sweat loss, and heart rate were monitored throughout the 90 min of sub-maximal cycling, as well as the time trial performance (seconds) and average power (watts). A repeated measures analysis of variance and effect sizes (Cohen’s d) analysis were applied. There were no significant differences (p ≥ 0.05) between the treatments for any of the measured physiological or performance variables. Additionally, the effect size analysis showed only trivial (d ≤ 0.2) differences between the treatments for all the measured variables, except blood glucose, which was lower in the coconut water trial compared to the sports drink trial (d = 0.31). Consuming coconut water had a similar effect on the cycling time trial performance and the physiological responses to consuming a commercially available sports drink. Full article
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8 pages, 216 KiB  
Article
Questions of Identity in Sport Psychology Scholar–Practitioners
Sports 2023, 11(9), 182; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090182 - 13 Sep 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1057
Abstract
As with other academic disciplines, sport psychology academics working in higher education (HE) in the United Kingdom (UK) in lecturer and senior lecturer positions are typically required to hold a PhD in sport psychology or a related discipline. To work in applied practice [...] Read more.
As with other academic disciplines, sport psychology academics working in higher education (HE) in the United Kingdom (UK) in lecturer and senior lecturer positions are typically required to hold a PhD in sport psychology or a related discipline. To work in applied practice with athletes, coaches, National Governing Bodies (NGBs), and sporting organisations, practitioners are required to acquire a qualification that affords registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) through either the British Psychology Society (BPS) or the British Association of Sport and Exercise Sciences (BASES). Accordingly, scholar–practitioners, who have “a foot in both worlds” (Tenkasi and Hay, 2008), are required to have two related but distinct qualifications, each of which requires considerable resources (i.e., time, finances, and commitment) to achieve. This paper addresses some of the dilemmas and conflicts that these individuals may encounter in their primary workplace, which typically does not provide for applied practice (either in time or financial incentives). Specifically, issues around the knowledge-transfer gap will be addressed. Real-world examples will be in the form of reflections from the author’s own experiences. I am a senior lecturer in sport and exercise psychology at Cardiff Metropolitan University and the programme director of the MSc Sport Psychology. The role requires me to be HCPC registered, as well as have a PhD in sport psychology. I am also an HCPC Practitioner Psychologist, registered following completion of the BPS Qualification in Sport and Exercise Psychology (QSEP). My practice is limited to minimal private work and the supervision of trainee sport psychologists (BPS). At the end of the paper, I leave the reader with three questions to prompt reflection on what being a sport psychologist means and what contributions scholar–practitioners may offer to academic institutions and the clients we work with. Full article
15 pages, 835 KiB  
Article
Effects of Complex Training on Jumping and Change of Direction Performance, and Post-Activation Performance Enhancement Response in Basketball Players
Sports 2023, 11(9), 181; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090181 - 12 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1001
Abstract
Exercise order is one of the significant factors modulating training effects. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of an 8-week complex (CPX) training program utilizing intra-CPX active recovery with compound training (CMP) on bilateral and single-leg jumping performance, [...] Read more.
Exercise order is one of the significant factors modulating training effects. Therefore, the aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of an 8-week complex (CPX) training program utilizing intra-CPX active recovery with compound training (CMP) on bilateral and single-leg jumping performance, change of direction test time (shuttle test), and the post-activation performance enhancement (PAPE) response in a group of basketball players. Thirteen participants were performing CPX bi-weekly combined with regular pre-season basketball practice, while eleven participants were performing CMP for 8 weeks. Before and after the interventions, the following fitness tests were assessed: (i) bilateral countermovement jump, (ii) single-leg countermovement jump, (iii) shuttle run test. All tests were performed pre- and post-conditioning activity (CA—three sets of five drop jumps). The results showed a statistically significant increase in non-dominant (p = 0.019) and dominant single-leg jump relative peak power (p = 0.001), and in non-dominant single-leg jump height (p = 0.022) post-training compared to pre-training. The CA was significantly and similarly effective in eliciting a PAPE response in all tests before and after each intervention (p < 0.039; for all). However, the magnitude of improvement in CMJ and shuttle test time was trivial to small and did not reach statistical significance. Both 8 weeks of CPX and CMP training led to significant improvements in the SLJ power output of both the dominant and non-dominant limbs as well as the height of the non-dominant SLJ. Neither of the training methods had significant impacts on the magnitude of the PAPE response. Full article
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10 pages, 924 KiB  
Article
Cryo plus Ultrasound Therapy, a Novel Rehabilitative Approach for Football Players with Acute Lateral Ankle Injury Sprain: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial
Sports 2023, 11(9), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090180 - 09 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1391
Abstract
Background: Acute lateral ankle sprains are common injuries among athletes, but the optimal treatment strategies in elite athletes are still debated. This proof-of-concept study aimed to assess the impact of cryo-ultrasound therapy on the short-term recovery of football players with acute lateral ankle [...] Read more.
Background: Acute lateral ankle sprains are common injuries among athletes, but the optimal treatment strategies in elite athletes are still debated. This proof-of-concept study aimed to assess the impact of cryo-ultrasound therapy on the short-term recovery of football players with acute lateral ankle sprains. Methods: Semi-professional football players with grade I or II lateral ankle sprains were randomly assigned to the experimental group (receiving cryo-ultrasound therapy combined with conventional physical therapy) or control group (sham cryo-ultrasound therapy combined with conventional physical therapy). Pain intensity and physical functioning were assessed by the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) and Foot and Ankle Disability Index (FADI) at baseline (T0) at the end of treatment (T1), after one month (T2), and two months after treatment (T3). Results: After the study intervention, significant between groups differences were reported in terms of pain relief (NRS: 4.08 ± 1.29 vs. 5.87 ± 1.19; p = 0.003) and physical function (FADI: 50.9 ± 10.3 vs. 38.3 ± 11.5; p = 0.021). However, no significant between group differences were reported at T2 and T3. No adverse effects were reported. Conclusions: Cryo-ultrasound therapy combined with conventional physical therapy can accelerate recovery and early return to sport in elite football players with acute lateral ankle sprains. While this study contributes valuable insights into the potential benefits of cryo-ultrasound therapy, further investigations with a longer follow-up are needed to validate and optimize the application of physical agent modalities in the management of ankle injuries. Full article
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12 pages, 725 KiB  
Article
Are Late-Born Young Soccer Players Less Mature Than Their Early-Born Peers, Although No Differences in Physical and Technical Performance Are Evident?
Sports 2023, 11(9), 179; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090179 - 08 Sep 2023
Viewed by 881
Abstract
The aim of the study was to compare the status of somatic maturity, anthropometry, strength, speed, and soccer-specific technical skills of players from leading youth soccer academies born in different quarters of the same calendar year. A total of 678 young male soccer [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to compare the status of somatic maturity, anthropometry, strength, speed, and soccer-specific technical skills of players from leading youth soccer academies born in different quarters of the same calendar year. A total of 678 young male soccer players from eight leading Russian soccer academies took part in the study. The following anthropometric measures and physical characteristics were measured: height, weight, body mass index, countermovement jumps (CMJ), 5, 10, and 20 m sprints, speed dribbling, foot and body ball juggling, and short and long pass accuracy. The determination of somatic maturity as a percentage of projected adult height was collected. All subject dates of birth were divided into four quartiles according to the month of birth. The analysis of all data obtained was conducted both within the total sample and by quartiles of birth, according to the age group categories of 12–13 years, 14–15 years, and 16–17 years and the degree of somatic maturity. There was a widespread relative age effect, with 43.5% of early-born players and only 9.6% of late-born players representing the sample. Early-born players were more mature than late-born players (p < 0.001 and p < 0.001) but had no statistically significant differences in strength, speed, or soccer-specific skills. Full article
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15 pages, 288 KiB  
Review
Assessment Tools Measuring Fundamental Movement Skills of Primary School Children: A Narrative Review in Methodological Perspective
Sports 2023, 11(9), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090178 - 07 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1167
Abstract
This paper aimed to analyze fundamental movement skill (FMS) assessment tools that could be used for primary school children. In this narrative review, the Motoriktest für Vier- bis Sechjärige Kinder (MOT 4–6), Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 (M-ABC-2), Motorische Basiskompetenzen (MOBAK) Körperkoordinationtest für [...] Read more.
This paper aimed to analyze fundamental movement skill (FMS) assessment tools that could be used for primary school children. In this narrative review, the Motoriktest für Vier- bis Sechjärige Kinder (MOT 4–6), Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 (M-ABC-2), Motorische Basiskompetenzen (MOBAK) Körperkoordinationtest für Kinder (KTK), Test of Gross Motor Development (TGMD), Maastricht Motoriek Test (MMT) and the Bruininks–Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency-2 (BOT-2) were analyzed from a methodological perspective, such as the number of test items, tools and types of tests, in terms of the FMS area. The analysis revealed that to assess locomotor movement skills, the BOT-2 has an excellent test for running ability, but for detecting technical difficulties, the TGMD is recommended. To test hopping, the MMT is the best test. Object control movement skills are measured with throws, dribbles and catches. Most of the tools assessed these skills, but it turned out that the TGMD is the best for measuring object control. Stability movement skills are tested with static and dynamic balance tests. Dynamic balance is more frequently used, and the MOT 4–6, KTK and BOT-2 have the most tools to use. However, the MMT is an excellent test for static balance. Fine motor movement skills are easy to assess with the MMT and MOT 4–6, since they have low equipment requirements. The BOT-2 is the best measurement tool; however, it has high equipment requirements. All of the FMS assessment tools are good; however, we concluded that although these tools are excellent for research purposes, they are difficult to apply in a school setting. Thus, teachers and coaches are advised to always select a single task from the available assessment tools that is appropriate for the skills they would like to measure. Full article
13 pages, 746 KiB  
Article
Short-Term L-Citrulline Supplementation Does Not Affect Blood Pressure, Pulse Wave Reflection, or Arterial Stiffness at Rest and during Isometric Exercise in Older Males
Sports 2023, 11(9), 177; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090177 - 07 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1042
Abstract
Hypertension and arterial stiffness are significant factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. L-citrulline, a nitric oxide precursor, has been proposed as a nutritional, non-pharmacological blood pressure-lowering intervention. This study aimed to investigate the impact of L-citrulline on central and peripheral blood pressure, pulse wave [...] Read more.
Hypertension and arterial stiffness are significant factors contributing to cardiovascular disease. L-citrulline, a nitric oxide precursor, has been proposed as a nutritional, non-pharmacological blood pressure-lowering intervention. This study aimed to investigate the impact of L-citrulline on central and peripheral blood pressure, pulse wave reflection, and central arterial stiffness at rest and during an isometric knee extension exercise protocol. Twelve older males received 6 g of L-citrulline or a placebo for six days using a double-blind crossover design. Blood hemodynamics parameters (i.e., aortic and brachial systolic and diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial pressure, pulse pressure, heart rate), pulse wave reflection (i.e., augmented pressure, augmentation index, forward/backward wave pressure), and arterial stiffness (i.e., carotid–femoral pulse wave velocity) were measured at baseline, post-supplementation, and during isometric exercise. No significant effects of L-citrulline supplementation were observed at rest or during exercise on blood pressure, pulse wave reflection, or arterial stiffness. Both central and peripheral blood pressure were increased during the exercise, which is consistent with isometric contractions. The results of the present study do not support any blood pressure-lowering effect of short-term L-citrulline at rest or during low-intensity isometric exercise compared to the pre-exercise values in older males. Full article
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16 pages, 270 KiB  
Article
Educational Preparation and Course Approach of Undergraduate Sports Nutrition instructors in Large U.S. Institutions
Sports 2023, 11(9), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090176 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 749
Abstract
College courses are often offered from various disciplines, and depending on which department offers the class, the course could be taught by faculty with different educational preparation or training. This could result in significant differences in the approach and content of the course [...] Read more.
College courses are often offered from various disciplines, and depending on which department offers the class, the course could be taught by faculty with different educational preparation or training. This could result in significant differences in the approach and content of the course (i.e., theoretical or applied) or a difference in the instructors’ perceived importance and, therefore, the depth and time spent on various topics. We evaluated potential differences in the sports nutrition curriculum because it is a course that is usually taught by either nutritionists or exercise physiologists. A cross-sectional survey was sent to sports nutrition instructors at accredited large U.S. institutions. Descriptive statistics were analyzed via an ANOVA and Χ2 using Crosstabs in Qualtrics. Alpha was set at p < 0.001. Additionally, short interviews with some participants were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The findings of this study indicated that regardless of the instructor’s educational preparation and discipline, the majority of sports nutrition topics received similar time and depth and were rated as similarly important (p > 0.001). Out of 10 current textbooks, the majority of instructors preferred only 1 of 4 of them. From the short interviews, instructors reported that their courses were more applied than theoretical or balanced between the two. Most instructors designed their courses with a focus on achieving applied outcomes. Full article
15 pages, 1246 KiB  
Article
Beneficial Effects of Asparagus officinalis Extract Supplementation on Muscle Mass and Strength following Resistance Training and Detraining in Healthy Males
Sports 2023, 11(9), 175; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090175 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1066
Abstract
The phytoecdysteroid 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) is widely used for resistance training (RT). Little is known about its potential ergogenic value and detraining effects post-RT. This study aimed to examine the effects of 20E extracted from Asparagus officinalis (A. officinalis) on muscle strength [...] Read more.
The phytoecdysteroid 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) is widely used for resistance training (RT). Little is known about its potential ergogenic value and detraining effects post-RT. This study aimed to examine the effects of 20E extracted from Asparagus officinalis (A. officinalis) on muscle strength and mass, as well as anabolic and catabolic hormones following RT and detraining. Twenty males, aged 20.1 ± 1.1 years, were matched and randomly assigned to consume double-blind supplements containing either a placebo (PLA) or 30 mg/day of 20E for 12 weeks of RT and detraining. Before and after RT and detraining, muscle strength and mass and anabolic and catabolic hormones were measured. This study found that 20E reduced cortisol levels significantly (p < 0.05) compared to the PLA, yet no effect was observed on muscle mass, strength, or anabolic hormones after RT. Subsequent to 6 weeks of detraining, the 20E demonstrated a lower percentage change in 1RM bench press/FFM than the PLA (p < 0.05). Compared to the PLA, detraining throughout the 12 weeks resulted in a lower percentage change in thigh (p < 0.05) and chest (p < 0.01) circumferences, as well as reduced cortisol levels (p < 0.01), with 20E. Our findings demonstrate that 20E supplementation is a promising way to maintain muscle mass and strength during detraining. Accordingly, 20E may prevent muscle mass and strength loss due to detraining by lowering catabolic hormone levels. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Physiology and Physical Performance)
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11 pages, 2478 KiB  
Brief Report
Perspectives on Player Performance during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: A Brief Report
Sports 2023, 11(9), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090174 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 822
Abstract
Changing the date of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 may represent a factor to consider for the expected performance of participating players. This was due to fixture congestion at the start of the season and expected weather conditions during the competition. Thus, [...] Read more.
Changing the date of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 may represent a factor to consider for the expected performance of participating players. This was due to fixture congestion at the start of the season and expected weather conditions during the competition. Thus, the main purpose of this brief report was to critically analyze the potential impact of changing the competition date and weather conditions on players’ performance. In addition, a brief description about the performance during the World Cup is also provided. For the research, the Web of Science, PubMed and SPORTDiscus databases were accessed using the primary keywords FIFA World Cup and World Soccer Cup associated with the secondary keywords match running performance, fixture congestion, fatigue and weather conditions. After applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, 52 articles were considered for analysis. The results seem to indicate that although changes were expected due to the modifications made (i.e., the competition date and scheduling congestion), the performance of the players seems not to have been affected in terms of the analyzed indicators. Furthermore, it seems possible to identify some patterns in the behavior of the teams that reached the most advanced stages of the competition. Full article
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12 pages, 263 KiB  
Article
The Role of Motivation and Physical Self-Concept in Accomplishing Physical Activity in Primary School Children
Sports 2023, 11(9), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090173 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 853
Abstract
Background: The goal of this research is to identify correlations of motivation and physical self-concept with physical activity among students of younger school age, as well as the level of prediction of motivation and physical self-concept with physical activity of students in physical [...] Read more.
Background: The goal of this research is to identify correlations of motivation and physical self-concept with physical activity among students of younger school age, as well as the level of prediction of motivation and physical self-concept with physical activity of students in physical education classes. Methods: The sample of respondents consisted of 411 students of the third and fourth grades from the territory of the Zlatibor district. A modified Self-Regulation Questionnaire was used to assess students’ motivational orientations, while appropriate subscales of the Self-perception Profile for Children measuring instrument were used to assess physical self-concept. Physical activity is shown as volume and intensive physical activity (vigorous physical activity (VPA)), measured with a Suunto memory belt pedometer and heart-rate monitor. Results: Boys’ motivational predictor variables accounted for 14% (volume) and 28% (VPA) of their physical activity in class, with intrinsic motivation, introjective regulation (just for the level of physical activity), and identified regulation as the most important determinants of physical activity. For girls, the identified regulation variable (from the system of motivational predictor variables) was shown to be the primary predictor variable on both criterion variables (R2 = 0.34 and 0.36). Conclusion: The teaching of physical education for students of younger school age should be conceived by creating a motivational climate, in order to encourage physical activity. Full article
13 pages, 1260 KiB  
Article
Anthropometric Profiling and Changes in Segmental Body Composition of Professional Football Players in Relation to Age over the Training Macrocycle
Sports 2023, 11(9), 172; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090172 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 975
Abstract
Body composition is an important indicator of the overall health and fitness of team sports athletes, including in football, and therefore, anthropometric profiling of elite football players is useful as part of determining their skills, strengths, and weaknesses to develop effective strength and [...] Read more.
Body composition is an important indicator of the overall health and fitness of team sports athletes, including in football, and therefore, anthropometric profiling of elite football players is useful as part of determining their skills, strengths, and weaknesses to develop effective strength and conditioning programs. One of the tools available to coaches to track correlates of performance and health is routine body composition assessment. The purpose of this study is to describe and compare the body composition and anthropometric profiles of players using the Direct Segmental Multi-Frequency Bio-Electrical Impedance Analysis method, and to manage body composition throughout the round in the 2020–2021 season. The investigation was carried out during the Polish football league, PKO BP Ekstraklasa, spring round of the football season 2020–2021, in which male football players participated. Athletes between the ages of 18 and 25 (n = 16) made up the younger age group, while those between the ages of 26 and 31 (n = 22) made up the older age group. This manuscript is a continuation of the presentation of the results of the study, which was conducted between 7 January and 23 July 2021. At different stages of the macrocycle, participants underwent six different body composition analyses. The younger and older groups of athletes were compared, as well as measurements of time points 1–6. The dominant extremities, assisting extremities, and trunk had larger fat-free mass contents in the older age group. In the study groups, there was a difference in the fat-free mass content between measures 1–6 that was statistically significant. In the younger group, there was a statistically significant difference in the amount of fat mass content between measurements 1–6. In the older age group, no statistically significant changes were found. The study showed changes in fat-free mass and fat mass in body segments; differences were observed between age groups and between different moments of measurement. Age is an important factor in determining body composition and is also related to an athlete’s experience and seniority. Anthropometric profiling and comprehensive body composition analysis are important tools used in preparing athletes for competition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Physical Fitness Profile in Soccer Players)
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11 pages, 873 KiB  
Article
Accelerometer-Derived Intensity Thresholds Are Equivalent to Standard Ventilatory Thresholds in Incremental Running Exercise
Sports 2023, 11(9), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090171 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 699
Abstract
Accelerometer cut-points are commonly used to prescribe the amount of physical activity, but this approach includes no individual performance measures. As running kinetics change with intensity, acceleration measurements may provide more individual information. Therefore, the aim was to determine two intensity thresholds from [...] Read more.
Accelerometer cut-points are commonly used to prescribe the amount of physical activity, but this approach includes no individual performance measures. As running kinetics change with intensity, acceleration measurements may provide more individual information. Therefore, the aim was to determine two intensity thresholds from accelerometer measures. A total of 33 participants performed a maximal incremental running test with spirometric and acceleration (Axivity AX3) measures at the left and right tibia. Ventilatory equivalents (VE/VO2, VE/VCO2) were used to determine a first and second ventilatory threshold (VT1/VT2). A first and second accelerometer threshold (ACT1/ACT2) were determined within the same regions of interest from vector magnitude (|v| = √(ax2 + ay2 + az2). Accelerometer data from the tibia presented a three-phase increase with increasing speed. Speed at VT1/VT2 (7.82 ± 0.39/10.91 ± 0.87 km/h) was slightly but significantly lower compared to the speed at ACT1/ACT2 from the left (7.71 ± 0.35/10.62 ± 0.72 km/h) and right leg (7.79 ± 0.33/10.74 ± 0.77 km/h). Correlation analysis revealed a strong relationship between speed at thresholds determined from spriometric data or accelerations (r = 0.98; p < 0.001). It is therefore possible to determine accelerometer thresholds from tibia placement during a maximal incremental running test comparable to standard ventilatory thresholds. Full article
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15 pages, 1318 KiB  
Article
A Muscle Load Feedback Application for Strength Training: A Proof-of-Concept Study
Sports 2023, 11(9), 170; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090170 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1141
Abstract
Muscle overload injuries in strength training might be prevented by providing personalized feedback about muscle load during a workout. In the present study, a new muscle load feedback application, which monitors and visualizes the loading of specific muscle groups, was developed in collaboration [...] Read more.
Muscle overload injuries in strength training might be prevented by providing personalized feedback about muscle load during a workout. In the present study, a new muscle load feedback application, which monitors and visualizes the loading of specific muscle groups, was developed in collaboration with the fitness company Gymstory. The aim of the present study was to examine the effectiveness of this feedback application in managing muscle load balance, muscle load level, and muscle soreness, and to evaluate how its actual use was experienced. Thirty participants were randomly distributed into ‘control’, ‘partial feedback’, and ‘complete feedback’ groups and monitored for eight workouts using the automatic exercise tracking system of Gymstory. The control group received no feedback, while the partial feedback group received a visualization of their estimated cumulative muscle load after each exercise, and the participants in the complete feedback group received this visualization together with suggestions for the next exercise to target muscle groups that had not been loaded yet. Generalized estimation equations (GEEs) were used to compare muscle load balance and soreness, and a one-way ANOVA was used to compare user experience scores between groups. The complete feedback group showed a significantly better muscle load balance (β = −18.9; 95% CI [−29.3, −8.6]), adhered better to the load suggestion provided by the application (significant interactions), and had higher user experience scores for Attractiveness (p = 0.036), Stimulation (p = 0.031), and Novelty (p = 0.019) than the control group. No significant group differences were found for muscle soreness. Based on these results, it was concluded that personal feedback about muscle load in the form of a muscle body map in combination with exercise suggestions can effectively guide strength training practitioners towards certain load levels and more balanced cumulative muscle loads. This application has potential to be applied in strength training practice as a training tool and may help in preventing muscle overload. Full article
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9 pages, 464 KiB  
Article
The Effects of Different Re-Warm-Up Strategies on Power, Changing of Direction and Ball Shooting Velocity in Well-Trained Soccer Players
Sports 2023, 11(9), 169; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090169 - 05 Sep 2023
Viewed by 945
Abstract
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether a re-warm-up training session either with tuck jumps and linear sprints or with changing of directions may enhance power, agility or ball shooting velocity in well-trained soccer players. Ten soccer players (age: 18.2 ± [...] Read more.
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether a re-warm-up training session either with tuck jumps and linear sprints or with changing of directions may enhance power, agility or ball shooting velocity in well-trained soccer players. Ten soccer players (age: 18.2 ± 1.7 years; body mass: 64.4 ± 8.0 kg; body height: 1.71 ± 0.04 m) participated in the study. Players performed three different re-warm-up interventions including no re-warm-up (C), change of direction (COD) and jump-sprint condition (JS). Before each re-warm-up intervention, players performed the same warm-up condition followed by 8 min of passive rest. Following the re-warm-up interventions, countermovement jump (CMJ), T-Test agility time-trial and ball shooting velocity were measured. Performance in CMJ height, power and power per body mass remained unchanged following all three conditions (p > 0.05). However, the agility time-trial was significantly reduced following COD re-warm-up compared to C (−1.7 ± 1.6%, p = 0.03). Ball shooting velocity was increased following COD compared to C (4.7 ± 3.8%, p = 0.014), while a statistical trend was found between JS and C interventions (4.8 ± 5.4%, p = 0.060). These results suggest that a re-warm-up intervention including changing of directions may significantly enhance T-Test agility time-trial and ball shooting velocity in well-trained soccer players. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Physical Fitness Profile in Soccer Players)
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9 pages, 1304 KiB  
Article
The Percentage of Total and Regional Fat Is Negatively Correlated with Performance in Judo
Sports 2023, 11(9), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090168 - 04 Sep 2023
Viewed by 824
Abstract
This study investigated the associations between total and regional body composition with performance in the special judo fitness test (SJFT), as well as strength and power tests (countermovement vertical jump—CMJ, squat jump—SJ, plyometric push-up—PPU, and force push-up—FPU). Twenty-three high-level judo athletes participated in [...] Read more.
This study investigated the associations between total and regional body composition with performance in the special judo fitness test (SJFT), as well as strength and power tests (countermovement vertical jump—CMJ, squat jump—SJ, plyometric push-up—PPU, and force push-up—FPU). Twenty-three high-level judo athletes participated in this study. Initially, they underwent dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, after which they performed the CMJ, SJ, PPU, and FPU tests. On another day, the SJFT was carried out. Correlations were tested using Pearson’s test. The performance in the SJFT was correlated with the total and arm %fat mass (r = −0.759), torso fat mass (r = −0.802), torso %fat mass (r = −0.822) and in the lower limb regions with the leg fat mass (r = −0.803) and leg %fat (r = −0.745). In the strength and power tests, there were also negative correlations observed between regional fat and performance. There was a negative correlation between the percentage of total fat and performance in the SJFT (r = −0.824), SJ (r = −0.750), CMJ (r = −0.742), PPU (r = −0.609), and FPU (r = −0.736). Fat, both total fat and regional fat in the arms, torso, and legs, is strongly correlated with a poor performance in the SJFT and poor strength and power. Full article
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15 pages, 955 KiB  
Review
Effect of Hip Muscle Strengthening Exercises on Pain and Disability in Patients with Non-Specific Low Back Pain—A Systematic Review
Sports 2023, 11(9), 167; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090167 - 01 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1430
Abstract
Low back pain (LBP) is a health problem that affects 70–80% of the population in Western countries. Because of the biomechanical relationship between the lumbar region and the hip, it is thought that strengthening the muscles of this joint could improve the symptoms [...] Read more.
Low back pain (LBP) is a health problem that affects 70–80% of the population in Western countries. Because of the biomechanical relationship between the lumbar region and the hip, it is thought that strengthening the muscles of this joint could improve the symptoms of people with LBP. The objective of this study is to evaluate the current evidence on the efficacy of hip strengthening exercises to reduce pain and disability in people with LBP. Clinical trials were collected from the PubMed, PEDro, and Scopus databases published up to September 2022. Based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and using CASP and PEDro tools for methodological quality assessment, we selected studies that included hip strengthening exercises as part of LBP treatment and measured pain and/or disability parameters. Among the 966 records identified in the search, a total of 7 studies met the established selection criteria. Overall, participants who performed hip strengthening exercises had significantly improved in pain and disability. The methodological quality of the included studies was assessed as “good”. In conclusion, the addition of hip muscle strengthening exercises iterating interacted with LBP, effectively improving pain and disability. Full article
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11 pages, 423 KiB  
Article
Frequency of Knee Pain and Risk Factors and Its Impact on Functional Impairment: A Cross-Sectional Study from Saudi Arabia
Sports 2023, 11(9), 166; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090166 - 01 Sep 2023
Viewed by 659
Abstract
Background: Adolescents frequently self-report pain, according to epidemiological research. The knee is one of the sites wherein pain is most commonly reported. Musculoskeletal disorders play a significant role in the prolonged disability experienced by individuals, leading to substantial global personal, societal, and economic [...] Read more.
Background: Adolescents frequently self-report pain, according to epidemiological research. The knee is one of the sites wherein pain is most commonly reported. Musculoskeletal disorders play a significant role in the prolonged disability experienced by individuals, leading to substantial global personal, societal, and economic burdens. Patellofemoral pain (PFP) is a clinical knee pain commonly affecting adolescents. This study aimed to estimate the frequency of knee pain in Saudi adolescents. Methods: This cross-sectional survey was conducted from June to November 2022 and included 676 adolescents aged 10 to 18 years. The participants were questioned regarding their demographics, school habits, and the impact of these factors on back pain, musculoskeletal pain in the past 12 months, as well as quality-of-life scale and knee pain symptoms. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, with frequencies and percentages presented for categorical variables. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was performed to compare means between groups, while the chi-squared test was used to compare categorical variables. Statistical significance was set at p < 0.05. Results: A total of 676 adolescents participated in the study, with 57.5% females and 42.5% males. Among the participants, 68.8% were aged between 15 and 18 years. The prevalence of knee pain was notably higher among females (26%) compared to males (19.2%). Age and BMI were identified as significant predictors of knee pain. A significant association was also found between BMI classification and knee stiffness (p-value = 0.008). Furthermore, a significant difference was observed between adolescents who engaged in physical activities during leisure time and those who experienced difficulty bending (p-value = 0.03). Conclusions: Our study highlights a high prevalence of knee pain among Saudi adolescents, emphasizing the need for increased awareness about its risk factors. Preventive measures, including conservative approaches and lifestyle/activity modifications, can effectively mitigate adolescent knee pain. Full article
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15 pages, 1416 KiB  
Article
Acute Effect of Four Stretching Protocols on Change of Direction in U-17 Male Soccer Players
Sports 2023, 11(9), 165; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090165 - 01 Sep 2023
Viewed by 970
Abstract
Background: The ability to rapidly change direction while sprinting is a desirable athletic skill in soccer. Enhancing change of direction (COD) performance depends almost exclusively on specific training, with stretching traditionally considered one such intervention. However, the comparative impact of diverse stretching methods [...] Read more.
Background: The ability to rapidly change direction while sprinting is a desirable athletic skill in soccer. Enhancing change of direction (COD) performance depends almost exclusively on specific training, with stretching traditionally considered one such intervention. However, the comparative impact of diverse stretching methods on COD in soccer players remains an area of interest. Therefore, this study aimed to compare the effects of different stretching methods on COD ability in soccer players. Methods: Twelve male soccer players playing in the national championship football division II (age: 16.3 ± 0.3 years, height: 1.81 ± 0.10 m, body mass: 67.7 ± 7.2 kg) were tested for COD performance (i.e., Illinois agility test) after (1) control condition (20 min general warm-up without stretching), (2) static stretching, (3) dynamic stretching, (4) combined static-dynamic stretching, and (5) combined dynamic-static stretching. The duration of stretching intervention was approximately 6 min for static and dynamic stretching and 12 min for both the combined stretching conditions. The experimental sessions were separated by 72 h. Results: COD improved after dynamic stretching when compared to any other condition (p: 0.03–0.002; ηp2: 0.56–0.73), except for the control condition (p = 0.146; ηp2 = 0.18). In contrast, static stretching induced a detrimental effect on COD when compared only to the dynamic stretching condition (p < 0.01; ES = 1.35). Conclusion: Dynamic stretching exercises used by male soccer players in the warm-up improved COD. Other forms of stretching exercises, particularly static stretching, negatively impacted the COD performance. Therefore, coaches can consider integrating dynamic stretching protocols tailored to the athletes’ specific needs. Moreover, extending the investigation to encompass a wider range of athletes, including different age groups and genders, would enhance the applicability and generalization of the findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sport Physiology and Physical Performance)
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12 pages, 1426 KiB  
Article
Gender-Specific Patterns of Muscle Imbalance in Elite Badminton Players: A Comprehensive Exploration
Sports 2023, 11(9), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090164 - 30 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1098
Abstract
The high-intensity demands of overhead sports exert significant stress on the bilateral shoulder complex, triggering adaptive kinematics and a distinct strength imbalance between internal and external rotators. The imbalance being referred to in the given statement poses a potential risk for humeral head [...] Read more.
The high-intensity demands of overhead sports exert significant stress on the bilateral shoulder complex, triggering adaptive kinematics and a distinct strength imbalance between internal and external rotators. The imbalance being referred to in the given statement poses a potential risk for humeral head displacement and puts nearby tendons under tension, heightening the vulnerability to injury. This study aims to assess muscle imbalances in badminton athletes. The first hypothesis (H1) suggests that there are differences in internal and external shoulder rotation movements between dominant and non-dominant segments in badminton players. The second hypothesis (H2) proposes that there are variations in muscle imbalances based on gender among elite badminton players. The objectives are to analyze these differences and explore potential gender-related variations in muscle imbalances. The study seeks to contribute to the understanding of muscle imbalances in badminton athletes and potentially guide training and injury prevention strategies in the sport. Using a cutting-edge Hand-Held Dynamometer (HHD), a cohort of 30 elite badminton players underwent an assessment to uncover any bilateral shoulder rotation strength imbalances during a challenging five second isometric maximum contraction. The participants boasted an average age of 17.4 years and a mean playing experience of 7.23 years. The study revealed a notable difference in the ratio of external and internal strength between the dominant and non-dominant shoulders (p = 0.000). This discrepancy amounted to a striking 27.93% muscle imbalance in external rotation/internal rotation strength ratios, favoring the dominant shoulder. Moreover, gender-specific differences were detected, with male players exhibiting a 24.54% muscle imbalance in favor of the dominant shoulder, while female players showcased a more substantial 31.33% imbalance (p = 0.000). In light of these findings, it became evident that elite badminton players possess considerably stronger dominant shoulders compared with their non-dominant counterparts. Furthermore, the study revealed that male players experience less muscular imbalance than their female counterparts. Full article
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10 pages, 1275 KiB  
Article
Influence of Practice Periodization and Sleep Duration on Oxidative Stress in High School Judo Athletes
Sports 2023, 11(9), 163; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090163 - 30 Aug 2023
Viewed by 630
Abstract
Numerous research studies have investigated the relationship between exercise, oxidative stress level, and condition in athletes who engage in intense training on a daily basis. However, it is known that oxidative stress is affected by exercise, sleep, and the psychological state, but there [...] Read more.
Numerous research studies have investigated the relationship between exercise, oxidative stress level, and condition in athletes who engage in intense training on a daily basis. However, it is known that oxidative stress is affected by exercise, sleep, and the psychological state, but there are only a few studies that have comprehensively examined oxidative stress based on the actual practice periods and living conditions of athletes. Therefore, our study aimed to explore the influence of three distinct training periods (short training period, intensive training period, and pre-competition periods) as well as life situations (sleep and number of steps) on oxidative stress levels (diacron reactive oxygen metabolites: d-ROMs) in high school judo athletes. The results showed that, among the three periods, the level of oxidative stress increased the most during the pre-competition period, and the value was higher than during the training period, when the intensity of training was highest. The levels of the d-ROMs values during the pre-competition period were negatively correlated with the amount of sleep on the previous day. The findings suggest that, besides the exercise intensity, factors such as sleep duration and other life situations should be regarded as critical considerations for high school judo athletes. Full article
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14 pages, 1674 KiB  
Article
The Impact of a Psychological Skills Training and Mindfulness-Based Intervention on the Mental Toughness, Competitive Anxiety, and Coping Skills of Futsal Players—A Longitudinal Convergent Mixed-Methods Design
Sports 2023, 11(9), 162; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090162 - 29 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1592
Abstract
Despite the sport’s popularity, there is a paucity in futsal psychological interventional research. This study analysed the impact of a ten-session psychological skills training and mindfulness-based intervention (PSTMI) on the mental toughness, competitive anxiety, and athletic coping skills of national league futsal players [...] Read more.
Despite the sport’s popularity, there is a paucity in futsal psychological interventional research. This study analysed the impact of a ten-session psychological skills training and mindfulness-based intervention (PSTMI) on the mental toughness, competitive anxiety, and athletic coping skills of national league futsal players (n = 13). It also analysed whether these variables were predicted by playing experience. Pre-/post-intervention questionnaires were filled in and analysed (Competitive State Anxiety Inventory-2, Sport Mental Toughness Questionnaire, and Athletic Coping Skills Inventory-28). Semi-structured interviews were also conducted with seven athletes; quantitative and qualitative data were integrated in a convergent parallel mixed-methods design. Results revealed significant medium-to-large improvements in mental toughness, cognitive anxiety, and coping skills following the PSTMI. Years of playing experience positively and significantly predicted better self-confidence and coping skills. Thematic analysis generated five themes: (1) post-intervention enhancement in athletic performance and well-being; (2) the non-athletic commitments of futsal players; (3) diverse views on how to improve the intervention; (4) instilling social identity through sport psychology sessions; and (5) the impact of years of experience on skill learning. Results mirrored those from other sporting disciplines. The PSTMI was well-received and equipped athletes with beneficial psychological skills, stressing the need for more sport psychology resources in futsal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sports Psychology and Performance)
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10 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Soccer and Disability, Is It Possible? Analysis of the Learning and Coaching Context in Spain
Sports 2023, 11(9), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports11090161 - 28 Aug 2023
Viewed by 611
Abstract
Coaching a youth soccer player is important, and the coach’s role is key. Actually, there is no profile or coaching program for grassroots-soccer coaches that favor the practice of soccer and disability, according to different research and experts. The main purpose of this [...] Read more.
Coaching a youth soccer player is important, and the coach’s role is key. Actually, there is no profile or coaching program for grassroots-soccer coaches that favor the practice of soccer and disability, according to different research and experts. The main purpose of this study is to identify and analyze the professional profile of the grassroots-soccer coach who has soccer players with disabilities (learning and coaching context). This research applies a quantitative method, specifically, non-experimental, cross-sectional, descriptive, and inferential methodology. The sample of analysis is the staff members of the professional soccer clubs of LaLigaSantander Genuine (Spain). An important result is that half of the grassroots-soccer coaches have not received specific education to coach youth soccer players with disabilities. Finally, one important conclusion of this research is that by generating a climate of trust and empathy, grassroots-soccer coaches improve the performance of their soccer players with disabilities by recognizing and understanding their emotional states. Full article
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