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Volume 8, February

Sports, Volume 8, Issue 3 (March 2020) – 12 articles

Cover Story (view full-size image): Gastrocnemius medialis muscle architecture and ankle joint range of motion were compared between flexibility-trained and not-trained female child athletes aged 8–10 years. At rest, the two groups displayed similar gastrocnemius medialis architecture; during stretching, flexibility-trained athletes displayed greater fascicle elongation at the middle and the distal part of the muscle, and greater muscle–tendon junction displacement compared with athletes not trained in flexibility. Ankle joint range of motion during dorsiflexion was correlated with fascicle elongation at the distal part of gastrocnemius medialis, and muscle–tendon junction displacement. These findings indicate that from an early age, non-uniform adaptations occur along the gastrocnemius muscle length that depend on training history and are evident only during stretching. View this paper.
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Relationships between Change of Direction, Sprint, Jump, and Squat Power Performance
Sports 2020, 8(3), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030038 - 19 Mar 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1855
Abstract
The aim of the study was to investigate the relationships between countermovement jump (CMJ) height and inertial power in squat and sprint variables with change of direction (COD) performance. Fifty young healthy active males participated in the study. To determine these relationships, we [...] Read more.
The aim of the study was to investigate the relationships between countermovement jump (CMJ) height and inertial power in squat and sprint variables with change of direction (COD) performance. Fifty young healthy active males participated in the study. To determine these relationships, we carried out a 10-m linear sprint test (T 10 m), vertical jump tests (CMJ and CMJ Abalakov), an assessment of power relative to bodyweight in a flywheel squat (Pbw), and 10-m COD sprints with two different turn types (COD-90° and COD-180°). T10 m showed statistically large and moderate correlations with T10 m COD-180° (r = 0.55) and T10-m COD-90° (r = 0.41), respectively. Moderate to large correlations between jumping height, linear sprinting, and sprints with COD were found (r = −0.43 to r = −0.59), and there were unclear correlations between jumping height and the loss of speed caused by executing COD (DEC-COD). Pbw showed a large correlation with CMJ Abalakov and CMJ jump height (r = 0.65 and r = 0.57, respectively), and a moderate and large correlation with T 10 m, T 10 m COD-180°, and T10 m COD-90° (r = −0.33, r = −0.38, and r = −0.54, respectively). Despite the existence of substantial correlations between variables, straight linear sprinting, jumping performance, CODs and squat power were, for the most part, separate motor qualities (R2 from 14% to 34%), suggesting that all of them should be specifically assessed and trained. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
An Acute Bout of Self-Myofascial Release Does Not Affect Drop Jump Performance despite an Increase in Ankle Range of Motion
Sports 2020, 8(3), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030037 - 19 Mar 2020
Viewed by 1726
Abstract
This study examined the acute effects of self-myofascial release plus dynamic warm up versus dynamic warm up alone on ankle range of motion and drop jump performance. Twenty-five recreationally active participants (male: 16, female: 9) were randomly assigned into a foam rolling (FR) [...] Read more.
This study examined the acute effects of self-myofascial release plus dynamic warm up versus dynamic warm up alone on ankle range of motion and drop jump performance. Twenty-five recreationally active participants (male: 16, female: 9) were randomly assigned into a foam rolling (FR) or a dynamic warm up group (CON) (age: 22.8 ± 3.9 years, body mass 75.9 ± 13.2 kg, stretch stature: 174.1 ± 10.1 cm). In a randomised crossover design, each participant completed two experimental sessions that were separated by seven days. Ankle range of movement was assessed while using a weight-bearing lunge test and drop jump performance was recorded via bilateral force plates. Following a 5 min cycle, the foam rolling group undertook self-myofascial release to the lower limb and thoracic/lumbar regions, followed by a dynamic warm up. The control group undertook the same initial warm up plus the dynamic exercises. The level of significance was set at p ≤ 0.05. There was a significant increase (p < 0.001) in ankle range of motion immediately after the warm up for both groups (pre CON: 37.5 ± 5.31, post CON: 39.8 ± 5.76; pre FR 38.7 ± 7, post FR: 40.3 ± 7.3 deg). No significant difference was found between the conditions (p > 0.05). There were no significant differences for any indices of jump performance (p > 0.05). Based on these results, foam rolling plus dynamic exercises does not appear to impair or enhance drop jump performance, despite the increases in ankle range of movement. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Off-Season Training Habits and BMI, Not Preseason Jump Measures, Are Associated with Time-Loss Injury in Female Collegiate Soccer Players
Sports 2020, 8(3), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030036 - 15 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 997
Abstract
The primary purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the standing long jump (SLJ) and the single-leg hop (SLH) tests to discriminate lower quadrant (low back and lower extremities) injury occurrence in female collegiate soccer players. The secondary purpose of [...] Read more.
The primary purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the standing long jump (SLJ) and the single-leg hop (SLH) tests to discriminate lower quadrant (low back and lower extremities) injury occurrence in female collegiate soccer players. The secondary purpose of this study was to determine associations between injury and off-season training habits or anthropometric measures. SLJ, SLH, and anthropometric measures were collected during a preseason screening clinic. Each subject completed a questionnaire providing demographic information and off-season training habits. Each athlete performed three SLJ and three SLH per leg. SLJ and SLH scores were not associated with an increased risk of a noncontact time-loss lower quadrant (LQ) injury. Athletes with a higher BMI or who reported less time training during the off-season were two times more likely to sustain an injury. Athletes who had both a higher body mass index (BMI) and lower off-season training habits were three times (relative risk = 3.1 (95% CI: 1.7, 5.5) p-value = 0.0001) more likely to sustain a noncontact time-loss lower quadrant injury. Preseason SLJ and SLH scores do not discriminate injury risk in female collegiate soccer players. Higher BMI and lower off-season training habits are associated with an increased risk of LQ injury. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceReview
Factors Affecting Training and Physical Performance in Recreational Endurance Runners
Sports 2020, 8(3), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030035 - 15 Mar 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 5012
Abstract
Endurance running has become an immensely popular sporting activity, with millions of recreational runners around the world. Despite the great popularity of endurance running as a recreational activity during leisure time, there is no consensus on the best practice for recreational runners to [...] Read more.
Endurance running has become an immensely popular sporting activity, with millions of recreational runners around the world. Despite the great popularity of endurance running as a recreational activity during leisure time, there is no consensus on the best practice for recreational runners to effectively train to reach their individual objectives and improve physical performance in a healthy manner. Moreover, there are lots of anecdotal data without scientific support, while most scientific evidence on endurance running was developed from studies observing both recreational and professional athletes of different levels. Further, the transference of all this information to only recreational runners is difficult due to differences in the genetic predisposition for endurance running, the time available for training, and physical, psychological, and physiological characteristics. Therefore, the aim of this review is to present a selection of scientific evidence regarding endurance running to provide training guidelines to be used by recreational runners and their coaches. The review will focus on some key aspects of the training process, such as periodization, training methods and monitoring, performance prediction, running technique, and prevention and management of injuries associated with endurance running. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Athlete Performance Enhancement through Endurance Running Training)
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Open AccessArticle
Relationships between Resisted Sprint Performance and Different Strength and Power Measures in Rugby Players
Sports 2020, 8(3), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030034 - 14 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1789
Abstract
This study aimed to investigate the relationship between a specific isometric-strength sprint test (SIST) and unresisted maximum velocity (Vmax), sprint times across different loading conditions, and the velocity loss (Vloss) loads required to achieve each intended Vloss condition during resisted sprint training (RST) [...] Read more.
This study aimed to investigate the relationship between a specific isometric-strength sprint test (SIST) and unresisted maximum velocity (Vmax), sprint times across different loading conditions, and the velocity loss (Vloss) loads required to achieve each intended Vloss condition during resisted sprint training (RST) in rugby players. Additionally, the investigation examined the relationship between strength in the back-squat one-repetition maximum (1RM-SQ) as well as isometric squat (ISQT), jumps, and sprint performance variables. Twenty (n = 20) male amateur rugby players performed, on two separate occasions, a structural multiple-joint assessment of jumps, strength, and sprint performance. Interestingly, SIST revealed moderate correlations (r = 0.453 to 0.681; p < 0.05) between 1RM-SQ and ISQT. The SISTrel (relative to body mass), but not SIST, used in the present study showed moderate correlations (r = 0.508 to 0.675; p < 0.05) with the loads needed to reach 10%, 30%, and 50% of Vloss during RST. The SISTrel that measures resultant force application in a more sprint-related position explains much of the individual response of each athlete during sprinting towing a sled and can also be used to prescribe and quantify loads in the RST in a more objective and individual manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Performance in Team Sports)
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Open AccessArticle
Associations Between Two Athlete Monitoring Systems Used to Quantify External Training Loads in Basketball Players
Sports 2020, 8(3), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030033 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1209
Abstract
Monitoring external training load (eTL) has become popular for team sport for managing fatigue, optimizing performance, and guiding return-to-play protocols. During indoor sports, eTL can be measured via inertial measurement units (IMU) or indoor positioning systems (IPS). Though each device provides unique information, [...] Read more.
Monitoring external training load (eTL) has become popular for team sport for managing fatigue, optimizing performance, and guiding return-to-play protocols. During indoor sports, eTL can be measured via inertial measurement units (IMU) or indoor positioning systems (IPS). Though each device provides unique information, the relationships between devices has not been examined. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the association of eTL between an IMU and IPS used to monitor eTL in team sport. Retrospective analyses were performed on 13 elite male National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball players (age: 20.2 ± 1.2 years, height: 201.1 ± 7.6 cm, mass: 96.8 ± 8.8 kg) from three practices during the off-season training phase. A one-way analysis of variance was used to test differences in eTL across practices. Pearson’s correlation examined the association between the Distance traveled during practice captured by IPS compared to PlayerLoad (PL), PlayerLoad per Minute (PL/Min), 2-Dimensional PlayerLoad (PL2D), 1-Dimensional PlayerLoad Forward (PL1D-FWD), Side (PL1D-SIDE), and Up (PL1D-UP) captured from the IMU. Regression analyses were performed to predict PL from Distance traveled. The eTL characteristics during Practice 1: PL = 420.4 ± 102.9, PL/min = 5.8 ± 1.4, Distance = 1645.9 ± 377.0 m; Practice 2: PL = 472.8 ± 109.5, PL/min = 5.1 ± 1.2, Distance = 1940.0 ± 436.3 m; Practice 3: PL = 295.1 ± 57.8, PL/min = 5.3 ± 1.0, Distance = 1198.2 ± 219.2 m. Significant (p ≤ 0.05) differences were observed in PL, PL2D, PL1D-FWD, PL1D-SIDE, PL1D-UP, and Distance across practices. Significant correlations (p ≤ 0.001) existed between Distance and PL parameters (Practice 1: r = 0.799–0.891; Practice 2: r = 0.819–0.972; and Practice 3: 0.761–0.891). Predictive models using Distance traveled accounted for 73.5–89.7% of the variance in PL. Significant relationships and predictive capacities exists between systems. Nonetheless, each system also appears to capture unique information that may still be useful to performance practitioners regarding the understanding of eTL. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Performance in Team Sports)
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Open AccessArticle
The Assessment and Relationship Between Quality of Life and Physical Activity Levels in Greek Breast Cancer Female Patients under Chemotherapy
Sports 2020, 8(3), 32; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030032 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 811
Abstract
A growing body of evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) can be a complementary intervention during breast cancer (BCa) treatment, contributing to the alleviation of the chemotherapy-related side-effects. The purpose of this study was to assess physical activity (PA) levels and quality of [...] Read more.
A growing body of evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) can be a complementary intervention during breast cancer (BCa) treatment, contributing to the alleviation of the chemotherapy-related side-effects. The purpose of this study was to assess physical activity (PA) levels and quality of life (QoL) parameters of BCa patients undergoing chemotherapy and compare them with healthy controls. A total of 94 BCa female patients and 65 healthy women were recruited and self-reported QoL and PA levels. The results reveal that women suffering from BCa spent only 134 ± 469 metabolic equivalents (MET)/week in vigorous PAs compared with the healthy females who spent 985±1508 MET/week. Also, BCa patients were spending 4.62±2.58 h/day sitting, contrary to the 2.34±1.05 h/day of the controls. QoL was scored as 63.43±20.63 and 70.14±19.49 while physical functioning (PF) as 71.48±23.35 and 84.46±15.48 by BCa patients and healthy participants, respectively. Negative correlations were found between QoL and fatigue, PF and pain, and fatigue and dyspnea, while a positive correlation was found between QoL and PF. This study indicated that the BCa group accumulated many hours seated and refrained from vigorous Pas, preferring PAs of moderate intensity. Additionally, BCa patients’ levels of functioning and QoL were moderate to high; however, they were compromised by pain, dyspnea and fatigue. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Which are the Nutritional Supplements Used by Beach-Volleyball Athletes? A Cross-Sectional Study at the Italian National Championship
Sports 2020, 8(3), 31; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030031 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1338
Abstract
Beach volleyball is an intermittent team sport played under high temperature and humidity. Given that some nutritional supplements can enhance sports performance, this study aimed to evaluate the quantity and the heterogeneity of the nutritional supplementation practices of amateur (n = 69) and [...] Read more.
Beach volleyball is an intermittent team sport played under high temperature and humidity. Given that some nutritional supplements can enhance sports performance, this study aimed to evaluate the quantity and the heterogeneity of the nutritional supplementation practices of amateur (n = 69) and professional (n = 19) beach volley athletes competing in the Italian National Championship; an online form was used to collect data about the supplementation habits. The latent class analysis was used to find sub-groups characterised by different habits regarding supplements consumption. The most frequently used supplements (more than once a week) are vitamins B and C (39.2% of athletes), protein (46.8%), and caffeine (36.9%). The latent class analysis revealed three different sub-groups of athletes: the first class (56.7%) included athletes who were used to take very few supplements, the second class (17.0%) was characterised by higher consumption of supplements and the third class (26.2%) was in the middle between the others two. Groups were characterised not only by the quantity but also by the category of supplements used. Our results highlighted a high heterogeneity in supplementation habits. A pragmatic approach to supplements and sports foods is needed in the face of the evidence that some products can usefully contribute to enhancing performance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Physical Performance in Team Sports)
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Open AccessArticle
Physical Fitness after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Influence of Graft, Age, and Sex
Sports 2020, 8(3), 30; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030030 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1117
Abstract
Functional tests are used to facilitate return-to-sports decisions after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). This study presents comprehensive physical fitness test data acquired in highly active patients within the first year after ACLR, for comparison between different grafts, age groups, and sexes. The [...] Read more.
Functional tests are used to facilitate return-to-sports decisions after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR). This study presents comprehensive physical fitness test data acquired in highly active patients within the first year after ACLR, for comparison between different grafts, age groups, and sexes. The outcomes from a specific seven-item test battery and isokinetic strength test data were extracted from a patient database. Results were compared to normative data from age- and sex-matched controls and between subgroups of patients. A total of 245 patients (94 women, 23.8 ± 8.4 years, pre-injury Tegner 7.4 ± 1.6) were tested 185 ± 44 days after surgery. In 116 patients (47.3%), one or more test results were classified as “poor” or “very poor” after comparison with normative data, with failures being most frequent during single-leg squat jump and plyometric strength tests. Test failures were more prevalent in adults than in adolescents <19 years (61.4%–62.2% vs. 24.5%, p < 0.001) and in men (61.6% vs. 24.5%, p < 0.001), but no differences were found between grafts. Isokinetic knee extensor strength was lower by 24.1% on the injured side. Six months after ACLR, nearly 50% of highly active patients presented with strength and functional fitness deficits. These deficits are particularly prevalent in older patients and men. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Gastrocnemius Medialis Architectural Properties in Flexibility Trained and Not Trained Child Female Athletes: A Pilot Study
Sports 2020, 8(3), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030029 - 04 Mar 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 980
Abstract
Gastrocnemius medialis (GM) architecture and ankle angle were compared between flexibility trained (n = 10) and not trained (n = 6) female athletes, aged 8–10 years. Ankle angle, fascicle length, pennation angle and muscle thickness were measured at the mid-belly and the distal [...] Read more.
Gastrocnemius medialis (GM) architecture and ankle angle were compared between flexibility trained (n = 10) and not trained (n = 6) female athletes, aged 8–10 years. Ankle angle, fascicle length, pennation angle and muscle thickness were measured at the mid-belly and the distal part of GM, at rest and at the end of one min of static stretching. Flexibility trained (FT) and not trained athletes (FNT) had similar fascicle length at the medial (4.19 ± 0.37 vs. 4.24 ± 0.54 cm, respectively, p = 0.841) and the distal part of GM (4.25 ± 0.35 vs. 4.18 ± 0.65 cm, respectively, p = 0.780), similar pennation angles, and muscle thickness (p > 0.216), and larger ankle angle at rest (120.9 ± 4.2 vs. 110.9 ± 5.8°, respectively, p = 0.001). During stretching, FT displayed greater fascicle elongation compared to FNT at the medial (+1.67 ± 0.37 vs. +1.28 ± 0.22 cm, respectively, p = 0.048) and the distal part (+1.84 ± 0.67 vs. +0.97 ± 0.97 cm, respectively, p = 0.013), larger change in joint angle and muscle tendon junction displacement (MTJ) (p < 0.001). Muscle thickness was similar in both groups (p > 0.053). Ankle dorsiflexion angle significantly correlated with fascicle elongation at the distal part of GM (r = −0.638, p < 0.01) and MTJ displacement (r = −0.610, p < 0.05). Collectively, FT had greater fascicle elongation at the medial and distal part of GM and greater MTJ displacement during stretching than FNT of similar age. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Acute Effects of Intermittent and Continuous Static Stretching on Hip Flexion Angle in Athletes with Varying Flexibility Training Background
Sports 2020, 8(3), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030028 - 03 Mar 2020
Viewed by 1111
Abstract
Τhis study examined changes in hip joint flexion angle after an intermittent or a continuous static stretching protocol of equal total duration. Twenty-seven female subjects aged 19.9 ± 3.0 years (14 artistic and rhythmic gymnasts and 13 team sports athletes), performed 3 min [...] Read more.
Τhis study examined changes in hip joint flexion angle after an intermittent or a continuous static stretching protocol of equal total duration. Twenty-seven female subjects aged 19.9 ± 3.0 years (14 artistic and rhythmic gymnasts and 13 team sports athletes), performed 3 min of intermittent (6 × 30 s with 30 s rest) or continuous static stretching (3 min) of the hip extensors, with an intensity of 80–90 on a 100-point visual analogue scale. The order of stretching was randomized and counterbalanced, and each subject performed both conditions. Hip flexion angle was measured with the straight leg raise test for both legs after warm-up and immediately after stretching. Both stretching types equally increased hip flexion angle by ~6% (continuous: 140.9° ± 20.4° to 148.6° ± 18.8°, p = 0.047; intermittent: 141.8° ± 20.3° to 150.0° ± 18.8°, p = 0.029) in artistic and rhythmic gymnasts. In contrast, in team sports athletes, only intermittent stretching increased hip flexion angle by 13% (from 91.0° ± 7.2° to 102.4° ± 14.5°, p = 0.001), while continuous stretching did not affect hip angle (from 92.4° ± 6.9° vs. 93.1° ± 9.2°, p = 0.99). The different effect of intermittent vs. continuous stretching on hip flexion between gymnasts and team sports athletes suggests that responses to static stretching are dependent on stretching mode and participants training experience. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Y-Balance Test Performance Does Not Determine Non-Contact Lower Quadrant Injury in Collegiate American Football Players
Sports 2020, 8(3), 27; https://doi.org/10.3390/sports8030027 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1346
Abstract
Collegiate American football has a high rate of injury. The Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test (YBT-LQ), a dynamic assessment of lower extremity strength, mobility, and balance, has been purported to identify athletes at risk for injury in different sports including football. Previous studies examining [...] Read more.
Collegiate American football has a high rate of injury. The Lower Quarter Y-Balance Test (YBT-LQ), a dynamic assessment of lower extremity strength, mobility, and balance, has been purported to identify athletes at risk for injury in different sports including football. Previous studies examining the association between YBT-LQ and injury have reported varied findings; therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess if preseason YBT-LQ performance predicted whether football players would sustain a non-contact lower extremity or low back (lower quarter (LQ)) injury during the season. Fifty-nine male collegiate American football players (age 20.8 ± 1.3 y, height 1.8 ± 0.1 m, body mass 94.6 ± 14.2 kg) completed a survey of training and injury history and had their YBT-LQ performance assessed at the start of the season. Athletic training staff tracked the occurrence of non-contact LQ injuries during the season. There were no significant relationships found between preseason YBT-LQ values and incidence of non-contact LQ injury in this population of collegiate American football players. This study is consistent with recent reports that have not found a significant association between preseason YBT-LQ values and LQ injury. These results suggest that, in isolation, the YBT-LQ may have limited utility as a screening test for non-contact injury in collegiate football players. Full article
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