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The journal of the UK Strength & Conditioning Association



april 2013

UKSCA Conference reportS


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013




Ian Jeffreys PhD, FNSCA, ASCC, CSCS*D
Raphael Brandon MSc, ASCC
Clive Brewer MSc, BSc(Hons), ASCC, CSCS
Marco Cardinale PhD, ASCC
Dave Clark MSc, ASCC
Paul Comfort MSc, ASCC
Audrey Duncan PhD, ASCC
Mike Favre MSc, ASCC
Duncan French PhD, ASCC
Jon Goodwin MSc, PGCHE, ASCC, CSCS
Liam Kilduff PhD
Rhodri Lloyd PhD, CSCS*D, ASCC
Jeremy Moody PhD, ASCC
Phil Moreland BAppSci, AssocDip, ASCC
Jeremy Sheppard PhD, CSCS
Narelle Sibte BAppSci, Grad Dip, ASCC
Alan Sinclair MSc, ASCC, CSCS
Gil Stevenson BEd (Hons), ASCC
Margaret Stone MSc, ASCC
Michael Stone PhD, ASCC
Mark Simpson MSc, ASCC
Graham Turner MSc, BEd (Hons), ASCC
Graeme Close PhD, ASCC
Nick Ward MSc, CSCS

UKSCAs 9th Annual Conference

31 August 1 September 2013
East Midlands Conference Centre, The University of Nottingham

Mary Fogarty
Olivia Holborn
















ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


As always, we welcome
comments and suggestions
from members as to
how to move the journal
forward and how to ensure
it addresses membership


In this edition of Professional Strength

& Conditioning, we take our traditional
look back at the major event of the
UKSCA calendar each year the
annual conference. Last years event
took place later in the year, in order to
allow it to take on the Olympic theme
it so richly deserved. Staged at Royal
Holloway College, the conference
turned out to be the biggest ever, with
over 400 attendees. The wide range
of speakers many of whom were
directly involved in the preparation
of several Olympic athletes allowed
delegates a great insight into the
challenges of preparation for the
biggest sporting event in the world.
In this issue we contain meeting
reports from all presentations at the
conference, which will allow members
who were unable to attend to get an
idea of the key messages presented.
Similarly, in this issue we also publish
the posters from the conference.
This will allow participants who
were unable to see the posters at the
Conference, along with those unable
to attend, to read them now.
It is always the aim of Professional
Strength & Conditioning to move
forward and to reflect the needs of our
wide range of members. To this end
there are a number of developments
in this issue which we hope will open
up the scientific arm of the UKSCA.
Although we are a very applied
organisation, it is essential that we
promote evidence-based practice,
and therefore the inclusion of a
scientific research-based element in
the UKSCA journal will help coaches
ensure that their methods reflect the
best scientific evidence.
This issue sees the publication of the
first research-based paper, written
by an international member Marco
De Michelis, from the University of
Motor Science in Turin, Italy on
the subject of tendon stiffness and
flexibility. We hope we will be able to
publish a greater number of applied
research articles in the coming
year, and hopefully the journal can
become a home for applied research

conducted on athletes within real

training environments.
Additionally, we have an excellent
review article on a very current
area of interest within strength and
conditioning that of repeat sprint
ability. On page 15 you can read a
thought-provoking review on this
subject from Anthony Turner and his
team from Middlesex University.
At this point of change, I would also like
to thank the people who have worked
tirelessly to ensure the delivery of
Professional Strength & Conditioning.
Production of the journal is a never
ending task, and a great deal of
voluntary work goes in to ensure we
produce this to the standard expected
of the UKSCA. My special thanks go
to the column editors Graeme Close
and Nick Ward, two extremely busy
people, who somehow manage to find
the time to consistently deliver first
class columns that add considerable
value to the journal.
My thanks also go to all the reviewers
who dedicate their time to undertake
reviews in a professional and timely
manner, and to the authors who have
invested their time in producing
the articles. Lastly, I wish to thank
Kate Smith for her professional and
meticulous work in the proof-reading
and copy-editing stages of the journal
over the last six years. Kate has been
integral to the journals development
and is now moving on to new
professional ventures: I wish her the
very best for what Im sure will be a
highly successful new chapter in her
We hope the developments in this
issue and those planned for future
issues will enhance what we hope is
already a highly valued publication.
As always, we welcome comments
and suggestions from members as to
how to move the journal forward and
how to ensure that it addresses the
needs of our membership.
Ian Jeffreys, PhD, FNSCA, ASCC, CSCS*D


UKSCA Assessments
We are regularly asked by members for
information and statistics relating to our
assessment days, so here is a round-up:
In 2012, 224 members attended an
assessment day for the first time and of
these, 18% demonstrated competency
in all four elements. For the rest, 27% of
attendees demonstrated competency in
three of the four elements, 32% in two,
19% in one, and 4% did not demonstrate
competency in any.

Erika Stevenson

Letter from the Editor

UKSCA launches series

of CPD seminars

Friday March 1 in Edinburgh and

Saturday March 2 in Greenwich
London saw the launch of the UKSCA
CPD seminars, with these first two
days dedicated to the subject of
youth training. Over 270 members
attended across both days, listening to
presentations from world-renowned,
US expert Dr Avery Faigenbaum (you
can read more about his talk on the
next page), as well as Debby Sargent,
Matt Cook and Rhodri Lloyd from the
These seminars were designed to meet
a number of aims for the UKSCA: to
bring internationally known, overseas

Looking at each element of the

assessment day, for those attending for
the first time (ie, not including members
taking re-sits), the first time pass rate
was as follows: multi-choice exam 90%;
weight lifting 49%; plyometrics, agility
and speed 41%; case study 59%.

experts to the UK; to showcase the

work of UK-based coaches; and to
provide low-cost, fantastic quality
CPD events for our members.
Following the success of these events,
we are already looking to plan more
and make them a regular fixture in the
UKSCA diary. If there are any themes
or speakers you feel would be of
interest, or if your workplace or
institution is looking to bring
an overseas speaker to the UK
and would be interested in
sharing costs, then please contact

Annual Conference 2013

UKSCAs 9th Annual Conference

31 August 1 september 2013
east midlands Conference Centre, the university of Nottingham

We are pleased to announce that this years

UKSCA Annual Conference will be held
over the weekend of August 31/September 1,
at the East Midlands Conference Centre
(University of Nottingham). Now in our
ninth year, we are aiming for this to be the
biggest and best yet. We will have exclusive
use of the conference centre for the whole
weekend as well as their brand new onsite
hotel. Based on previous years, we are sure
we will need more bedrooms than the 200
in the hotel so we have also booked some
neighbouring student accommodation as an
overflow. The hotel rooms will be allocated
on a first come, first served basis so we


recommend booking early for this event to

secure the best bedrooms.
Gala Awards Night
On the Saturday night of the Annual
Conference weekend, we will be hosting
our conference gala dinner and this year
will see our first UKSCA Awards evening.
In the next few weeks, we will announce the
process for nominations for awards such
as S&C Coach of the Year (elite sport) and
S&C Coach of the Year (grassroots), through
which the strength and conditioning work
of our members at all levels of sport and
education will be recognised.



ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


Professor Avery Faigenbaum:

Bring the magic to the very young

At the CPD seminar in March, Professor Avery Faigenbaum stressed how important it was
to start children early on muscle strengthening.
What should kids be doing and when
should they be doing it?, said Professor
Avery Faigenbaum, from the College of
New Jersey, in Philadelphia.

average they watch 20 hours a week of

TV! And if you are overweight at the
first year of primary school, you have an
80% chance of being overweight by 12.

performance. A study by Behringer et

al, which demonstrated that strength
training can improve running, jumping
and throwing.

In an era of increasing obesity and

heart disease, the sooner pre-pubescent
children get to grips with resistance
training the better, he said, pointing out
that the blood vessels of obese children
can be as much as 30 years older than
their actual age.

And, as the obesity scourge takes grip,

it is closely followed by diabetes, he
continued. Type II diabetes a disease
traditionally seen in overweight middle
age is now beginning to take hold in
obese children. Indeed it is becoming
so prevalent that last year the American
Academy of Pediatrics issued treatment
guidelines for children.

Also, the World Health Organisation

has acknowledged these benefits, he
said: in 2010 WHO guidelines stated
that children should have 60 mins of
MPVA daily and this must include
activities that strengthen muscle and

There is a window of opportunity

around pre-adolescence between
6 and 12 which is critical, he said.
Infancy/prepubescence is when the
magic happens.
strengthening exercise before they
start any sport seriously, then they are
absolutely set up for injury.
But how to get them going? As he said:
It is nave to think that contemporary
youth today is prepared for sport on

Kids should have lots of

activities, but strength
must be part of the
Physical inactivity is the new smoking,
he said. It is now the fourth leading
cause of death in the world. He pointed
to the irony of the fact that most adults
are happy to let their children sit around
watching TV all day, but would be
horrified if they caught them smoking
a cigarette.
Television is nothing more than an
obesity machine, he went on, showing
a photo of two children of about six
stuck in front of a screen: the decline
in physical activity starts early in life
around five to seven years of age.
And physical inactivity is a risk factor
for activity-related injury: low motor
competence means low fitness.
Its all about primordial prevention,
he said, preventing risk factors from
presenting themselves in the first place.

What goes wrong when they

start to grow up?


But just like learning how to write,

children have to learn how to move.
Kids should have lots of activities,
but strength must be part of the
programme. Muscular strength is
an essential component of motor

But we need to change societys

way of thinking, said Faigenbaum.
He has invented the term exercise
deficit disorder (EDD), which became
officially recognised
when Acta
Pediatrica published one of his papers
on the subject: after that, four more
journals accepted papers on the subject,
and the term came into being.

Reporting Olympic
S&C strategies
at the UKSCA
Annual Conference
The following pages contain summaries of presentations from the UKSCA
2012 Annual Conference. The Conference had its highest ever attendance, and
delegates were treated to some unique perspectives on the challenges and
methods of preparing athletes for the very highest levels of competition the
Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The 2012 UKSCA Annual Conference took place over a weekend last September, in the stately surroundings of the Royal
Holloway College in London. The event was moved from its traditional late spring setting, in order to allow the Conference
to take an Olympic theme: the conference title was S&C preparation for the Olympics and was deliberately timed this way to
enable practitioners involved with the huge success of the Olympic summer games to present their reflections on their plans
and preparations for their athletes. The event itself took its traditional approach of keynote and breakout sessions. This review
outlines the key take-home messages of each presentation.

There are no drugs to treat EDD unlike

hypertension, diabetes etc and so kids
with this condition will need a fitness
trainer, he said. The paediatrician will
see a fat child and they could prescribe
sending him or her to a specialist.
It should be a no-brainer for
governments, he said: Are you going
to spend $10 million a year on insulin
or are you going to start prevention
Another of his terms is lazy glute
syndrome: Faigenbaum showed photos
of children slumped on the sofa in front
of the TV. We need to fix this before
theyre even ready for preparatory
strength exercises.
It all comes down to a simple formula
in the end, he said: muscle strength g
motor skills g
physical activity g
lifetime fitness. Some people want to
put motor skills before muscle strength,
but in Faigenbaums opinion this is the
way it works for life.


Royal Holloway College



conference reports

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Raph Brandon S&C for Olympians: The technical
approach of the English Institute of Sport
It was an absolute pleasure to listen to Raph Brandon give
the opening keynote presentation at the 2012 UKSCA annual
conference. Its always hard being the first up, but Raph did
an amazing job of setting the highest of standards for the rest
of the weekend and the presenters that followed. Talking about
his experiences as an S&C coach working with track & field
athletes, as well as his role as National Lead for S&C, Raph
gave an hour and a half of enthralling insight into the role
of the English Institute of Sport in preparing athletes for the
London 2012 Olympic Games.
With an opening gambit of unexplained winning is a sin!,
Raph took the audience through a hugely candid insight
into the use of strength and conditioning for Olympic
athletes. Central to Raphs opening comments was the need
for performance modelling, and the development of an S&C
model that details exactly what it takes to win gold medals.
Raph eloquently highlighted this process with a working
example of a 400m runner, and former Olympic champion,
highlighting the areas that the S&C coach can ultimately
contribute to creating athletes with the potential to win gold
Interestingly, however, Raph also spoke about performance
modelling in other sports, and highlighted the need for S&C
coaches to be analytical, innovative, and programme-driven
in their approach. Largely this side of the talk focused on the
need for a) developing a well-balanced chassis for the athlete
that can withstand the rigours of training or competition; b)

improving the engine for performance, and c) giving the

athlete the physical capacity to compete at the highest level.
Raph did a great job of simplifying something that can often be
complex and confusing to even the best of S&C practitioners.
The second part of the opening keynote speech focused on the
approach and the system that Raph and other EIS colleagues
adopted to structure the approach to training. Again using
his personal philosophies and working examples, Raph
proceeded to take an enthralled audience through a step-bystep guide to how he works. Throughout, this was directed by
the overarching question: how do you optimise an Olympians
training? The answer? Through intelligent and thoughtful
monitoring by which each programme and athlete is a case
study. Raph proceeded to discuss his monitoring definitions,
and how the use of system mass volume loads (SMVL) can be
a crucial mechanism for monitoring and understanding the
challenge being placed on the athletes. Overviewing working
examples from different phases of a 100m runners training
programme, Raph gave insight into his approach to conjugate
programming for optimal performance.
A fantastic presentation was closed with the caveat: like a
good recipe, optimising training for performance is about
the relative amounts of each ingredient resulting in the best
overall flavour. It was great to listen to someone working at
the highest of levels, with huge insight and understanding in
his specific approach to performance development. The 2012
UKSCA conference had been kicked off in style!!

Dave Hamilton The impact of monitoring strategies on a

team sport through an Olympiad: physical development,
taper and recovery
Dave Hamilton is the lead S&C coach for the Great Britain
womens hockey team, and was responsible for overseeing
their preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Delegates were fortunate to obtain an insight into the methods
of monitoring that Dave used to prepare his female athletes
from a physical development perspective over a three-year
Dave broke his three-year term down into three specific phases:
Year 1: developing an understanding of programme demands
Year 2: finalising the working model for the 2012 Olympic year
Year 3: the actualisation phase.
This strategic, logical and yet creative approach to elite athlete
preparation was the ideal way to demonstrate how science
and application are an essential partnership for athletic
From heart rate telemetry, GPS, and notational analysis data,
Dave demonstrated that his hockey players are required to
perform multiple high-intensity, anaerobic, multi-directional
efforts within a game. This information, although not
necessarily surprising, did underline the intricacy of physical
preparation of his players, who require both strength and
power to perform explosive actions, but also an element of
robustness to enable them to re-perform safely and effectively.


The real highlight of Daves presentation focused on his

methods of monitoring athletic performance; he provided
an excellent overview of the merits of using both rating of
perceived exertion (RPE) scales, and also reactive strength
index performance during a drop jump (DJ-RSI) which
provides an insight into the levels of neuromuscular function.
Using longitudinal data, Dave showed how DJ-RSI was
sufficiently sensitive to accurately reflect fluctuations in the
neuromuscular status of his players throughout the season,
and how in combination with RPE scales, it was able to track
fatigue levels across the squad of players. Additionally, it was
revealed how the DJ-RSI could be used as a performance
marker to ensure that S&C provision could change in
accordance with suppressed or activated neuromuscular
systems on an individual player basis. Consideration was
also given to the potential influence of the menstrual data of
his players, and how variances in hormonal profiling could
potentially influence both training adaptations and overall
Finally, Dave took delegates through GB Hockeys techniques
for tapering in the lead-up to the London 2012 Olympics, and
how DJ-RSI could once again be used as a suitable means to
quantify neuromuscular fatigue, and help direct both priming
training sessions and post-match recovery strategies for his


conference reports

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Frans Bosch Transfer of strength training:
implications from how the central nervous system works
One of the more thought-provoking sessions of the conference
was delivered by Frans Bosch, a professor of biomechanics
and motor learning at Fontys University for Applied Science
in Holland. Frans has worked extensively in track and field,
and also consults with a large number of high profile sports
One of Frans key messages was that we tend to look at any
training problem from our preferred point of view. In S&C this
is often the physiological or biomechanical viewpoint, with
strength qualities viewed predominantly through a Newtonian
stance. However, force capacities alone could not predict
sports performance and strength qualities must be viewed
by the impact they have directly on performance. Essentially,
his message was that motor capacities will depend upon the
context in which they are expressed, and that the transfer
of these capacities into performance is essential. Here, the
ability to look at performance through a range of viewpoints
complements a S&C coachs understanding of performance,
and increases the available methods of enhancing this
performance. Frans outlined how a motor learning and control
viewpoint, combined with fundamental biomechanics and
physiology, can add to our understanding of performance and
help develop additional ways of helping athletes improve.
Specificity remains one of the keystones of effective strength
and conditioning. Frans asserts that specificity has five key
1. t he type of muscle activation including intra and inter
muscle coordination
2. the structure of the movement
3. the sensory information
4. the energy system
5. the movement results must resemble those used in

To assist in enhancing transfer from training to performance,

Frans outlined how the knowledge of motor control and
learning can significantly enhance the effectiveness of any
training session. His premise for this work is that strength
training can be seen as technique training under resistance,
and that ultimately, the development of enhanced movement
is the main aim. To maximise this, he proposed that goal-driven
exercises where the focus is on the result of an exercise
can significantly enhance an athletes learning and ultimately
their performance. Skill will develop when the athlete is able to
control the degrees of freedom present in the movement, and
this ability is enhanced through variation in training. Motor
control is carried out at a range of levels, many being reflexive,
and so these need to be stimulated in training, in order to
enable the athlete to develop appropriate motor control
capacities aimed at achieving specific goal-related outcomes.
Through a coherent and logical presentation, Frans clearly
demonstrated how sports performance is ultimately
dependent upon a wide range of contributing factors. The skill
of the S&C coach is the ability to identify the factors which
contribute the greatest effect to a given sport and a given
athlete, and to provide training inputs that optimally address
these factors. The ability to look at performance from a range
of viewpoints can greatly assist the coach in developing
an optimal individualised training prescription. To do this
effectively, a coach needs to constantly be open to new ways
of thinking, but at the same time to have a level of consistency
in their approach to integratring tried and trusted techniques,
with new innovative approaches.
This presentation provided another approach to the application
of strength and conditioning and would provide a coach with
additional tools and approaches with which to approach their
training and supplement their current programme.

Ben Haines The Olympic preparation of Australian

athletes the final countdown
Every year the UKSCA has a reciprocal speaker agreement with
the Australian Strength and Conditioning Association, and in
2012 Ben Haines was the ASCA representative invited over to
speak at our conference. As the theme of the 2012 conference
was the Olympics, it was a pleasure to have Ben come and
give the Australian perspective on preparing athletes for the
London games. Working at the South Australia Institute of
Sport (SASI), Ben was intimately involved with the physical
preparations of sprint kayakers, rowers and Paralympic
tandem sprint cyclists; and it was insight into each of these
sports that made up Bens presentation.
After some friendly banter from the audience questioning why
there was an Aussie giving a presentation on the preparation
of Olympians following the countrys poor showing at the
2012 Games, Ben proceeded to give a candid insight into the
benefits and challenges of the Australian sports system. From
the outset, a key theme of Bens presentation was the need
for a thorough and effective needs analysis of athletes and
sports, which will ultimately drive S&C programming. Ben was
talking from personal experience in being assigned new and
novel sports to him sprint kayak, and tandem cycling which
he then had to prepare for Olympic standard competition.


A great working example that Ben used was the case of leg
cycling within sprint kayakers, and the development of an
S&C strategy to promote this physical capacity. This working
example further elaborated on the extent to which S&C coaches
should engage in multi-disciplinary approaches, as much of
this technical analysis was consequent to Bens partnership
with performance analysis.
For each sport Ben presented, he talked about the aims and
objectives of his role within the institute setting. Following this,
he gave great insight into the specifics of the S&C programmes,
the monitoring systems put in place, and ultimately the
strategy that was used in the lead-up to the 2012 games. It was
great to hear about Bens success with his athletes; particularly
the tandem cyclists, who won medals at the games.
We are often enthralled with our own systems and ways and
overlook the methods of others. Its not often an audience
from the UK gets to listen to someone talk openly about the
Australian methods and systems that Australian institutes use.
For this reason it was truly refreshing to listen to Ben review
his work. However, at the end Ben conceded that 2012 was
definitely a year where it was better to be a Brit than an Aussie!


conference reports

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

conference reports



Greg Myer When to initiate integrative neuromuscular

training to optimise performance and reduce injury risk
in youth
Greg Myer is currently the director of research at the Human
Performance Laboratory, within the Division of Sports
Medicine at Cincinnati Childrens Hospital Medical Center in
the USA. He is also a fellow of the American College of Sports
Medicine and was the National Strength and Conditioning
Association Sports Medicine Specialist of the year in 2011.
Delegates were therefore in safe hands and were treated to
an outstanding presentation from one of the world leaders in
sports medicine.
Gregs research interests lie in the field of identification and
prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury risk
factors, with a specific interest in non-contact ACL injuries in
young female athletes. His presentation was a unique blend
of the highest calibre of scientific research interspersed with
examples of how the information can be applied in practice,
to ensure that strength and conditioning provision is at all
times evidence-based in nature. In addition, his collection of
gruesome non-contact ACL injury videos, and well-placed
humour ensured the audience was kept riveted, despite being
the final session of the conference!
In his keynote presentation, Greg started by highlighting two
common tasks associated with ACL injury: deceleration with an
extended knee, and dynamic valgus knee collapse, particularly
in unanticipated cutting movements. He also examined the
relative importance of both hamstring recruitment and hip
and trunk control as modulators of dynamic knee stability.
Through his own research and that of his colleagues, he
demonstrated that clear gender differences exist in both of
these modulators, which predispose females to a much greater
relative risk of non-contact ACL injury. This led onto the
examination of the influence of age and maturation on ACL
injury risk, where a lot of his recent work has been focused.
Greg showed that during the adolescent growth spurt, females
experience sex-specific physiological processes that may affect
both performance and the relative risk of injury, including:

Neil Parsley Beijing to London: Insights into a fouryear Olympic plan to win gold and all major medals along
the way!

increased fat mass; differential rates of development of

neuromuscular strength; height and weight; commencement
of menstrual cycle; increased joint laxity; increased knee valgus
angle; and an increased reliance on quadriceps-dominant
landing strategies. He subsequently provided evidence of
how appropriate interventions can reduce the risk of these
processes impacting upon knee injuries in female populations.

As a senior S&C coach for the EIS since 2003, Neil has worked
extensively with Olympic athletes through two full Olympic
cycles. Over the last four years Neil has specialised in combat
sports, leading the S&C for GB wrestling and taekwondo.
His session provided a comprehensive overview of various
programming strategies employed during a full Olympic
cycle, case studies and specific interventions.

Having highlighted the mechanisms associated with noncontact ACL injury risk, Greg went on to discuss the construct
of Integrative Neuromuscular Training (INT), and how early
exposure to appropriate conditioning is essential in order to
reduce the likelihood of an athlete experiencing a serious knee
injury. He also provided an evidence-based rationale from a
cerebral development perspective of why it is so important to
expose youth to appropriately designed, and well supervised,
INT programmes. Greg reinforced the need for the hallmarks of
INT to be based on early mastery of fundamental movements,
progressive exercises, exercise variation and structured
volume and recovery, with a major training emphasis geared
towards increasing levels of muscular strength and motor skill
competency. This is especially important given the current
levels of physical inactivity in modern-day youth. It was
clearly demonstrated that INT provides an opportunity for the
strength and conditioning coach to target movement deficits to
improve movement mechanics whilst also enhancing physical
performance indices such as strength, speed and power.

Neil began with a candid insight into his underpinning

philosophies as an S&C coach, his enthusiasm and passion
for combat sports, and his ongoing commitment to reflect and
review both on his own practice and the overall performance
programme. He detailed his timeframe of involvement with
taekwondo and was keen to stress the importance of first
developing a clear understanding of the specific needs of the
sport and individual athletes. For example, in his first year
with taekwondo he liaised closely with the technical coaches
to integrate his S&C work into the overall programme; and
develop a better understanding of the physiological and
biomechanical demands of the sport.

Importantly, through his own peer-reviewed research, Greg

provided empirical evidence of how INT programmes
have been effective in reducing injury risk and improving
performance in his own athletes. Undoubtedly, all delegates
who were fortunate to listen to Gregs presentation would
have taken some important information away with them,
and in doing so will hopefully maximise the chances of safe
and effective long-term athletic development of their young

A change in the rules of competition taekwondo created a

series of new challenges for S&C provision and required a rethink of programme priorities. These changes included a new
scoring system, which awarded the highest points for kicks, and

Auditorium, Windsor Building


turning kicks, to the head; and rulings on required impact levels

of strikes. For the latter rule change, electronic sensors were
embedded into competitors vests to allow judges to determine
not just if a blow was landed, but that it had sufficient impact
to warrant awarding a point. These amendments drove some
key adjustments in programming, including a greater focus on
mobility, flexibility, and strength and power development. Neil
was keen to emphasise how these examples of good practice,
constant review and responsiveness to change had allowed GB
to become serious medal contenders.
Neil shared some video footage of the taekwondo athletes
training: of particular interest were specific conditioning
exercises designed to improve high scoring kicks, and
metabolic conditioning circuits based around mirror and chaos
drills. Alongside these practical examples, Neil highlighted
the underpinning science integrated into the programme
including the use of Optojump to monitor flight and contact
times; and further research projects in association with the
University of Salford, Manchester.
Overall, this was an engaging and practical insight into Neils
work with GB Taekwondo and a successful London 2012:
Jade Jones won gold in the womens 57kg class and Lutalo
Muhammad won bronze in the mens 80kg class.

Ian Pyper Simple programming for Olympic

performance: giving them what they need!
Ian has worked as a S&C coach for the past seven
years, supporting a variety of Olympic, Paralympic and
Commonwealth sports. His most recent role has been that
of lead S&C coach for both GB Boxing and British Triathlon:
with regard to the latter, he worked closely with the training
group based in Leeds which included Alistair and Jonathan
Brownlee. His session aimed to shed light on the work done
with the GB Boxing and British Triathlon programmes in the
lead up to their most successful Olympics in recent times.
Ian began with a focus on the merits of simple programming
and consistent application. His philosophy is: simple
programmes done consistently well lead to conditioned and
robust athletes who can then showcase their natural talent.
This was a strong and thematic message running throughout
his presentation as he described the challenges faced in both
sports, and their respective solutions.


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Ian reported that GB Boxing initially required a certain

amount of myth-busting discussion with the athletes: this
required a level of patient dialogue but over time brought
significant buy-in from the boxers. Ian was very much focused
on building good relationships with the squad and creating a
positive training environment. He shared some video footage
of the boxers training: of particular note were strongman
conditioning training sessions based around an indoor
running track. Alongside these very practical examples Ian
spoke candidly about the challenges of a Monday-Thursday
programme and the pragmatic decisions that needed to be


taken around prescribing any additional off-site training.

Programming decisions were regularly reviewed with key
areas for reflection including: what will be value added for
these athletes? and what actually relates to performance?
Returning to his theme of simple programming, Ian moved on
to discuss his role with British Triathlon: he asserted that his
role had simply been that of a monitoring and conditioning
coach. He suggested that he had been very fortunate to work
with such talented triathletes and that his input had been
simple: he highlighted some smart additions to lower limb
conditioning work and better use of monitoring systems. The
sheer volume of the triathletes programmes was staggering
(30 hours per week was considered relatively normal) so it was
logical to consider that additions may be counter-productive.
However, it was refreshing to hear that Ian had been bold
enough to implement his less is more strategy and, in his own
words, simply show that you care and that you add value.
Ian gave an absorbing and genuine presentation about
his work: he was always keen to highlight the talent of his
athletes and remained modest about his own input. In this
instance, perhaps the medals won do the talking: in boxing,
GB exceeded their medal expectations, topping the Olympic
boxing table with three gold medals, a silver and a bronze. In
triathlon, the Brownlee brothers, Alistair and Jonny, claimed
gold and bronze medals, respectively.


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

conference reports

conference reports



Ben Rosenblatt Rehabilitating athletes to perform at

the Olympic games: science and practice
Often, as S&C coaches, we get carried away about the next
new and novel approach that will push our athletes to even
higher standards of physical performance. Interestingly,
however, we sometimes forget the role that S&C can play in
the rehabilitation of long-term injured athletes and their
return to play. Ben Rosenblatt is perhaps one of the foremost
specialists within the UK with this specific remit: he is the
senior rehabilitation specialist at the British Olympic Medical
Centre, and his time is spent rehabilitating injured athletes to
return to full fitness. His presentation therefore, focused on
this specific field of S&C, and gave a fascinating insight into
the benefits that S&C training can have in the rehabilitation
A mantra that became apparent throughout Bens presentation
was injuries are opportunities. Indeed, although long-term
injury can be debilitating to athletes, Bens perspective is that
this injury should be looked upon as a window of opportunity
a period where specific time can be spent working with an
athlete in a highly intensive fashion to correct, rehabilitate,
build, and strengthen all the physical qualities that may or may
not have led to injury. Indeed, throughout his presentation,
Ben talked about training around injuries, and not letting an
injury restrict or prevent continued physical development; a
great philosophy that hit home with many practitioners in the

In the second part of his presentation, Ben paid specific

interest to his work with occlusion training, or, blood-flow
restricted resistance exercise (BFRRE). Somewhat new to
many in the field of strength and conditioning, Ben showed
case study after case study of the beneficial effects that
occlusion can have in the injured athlete setting. In particular,
minimising atrophy in injured limbs, promoting hypertrophy,
and augmenting the rate of strength development were all
fascinating results that Bens PhD work had demonstrated in
elite athletes. Much of the presentation then went on to give the
audience hugely valuable information about athlete screening
before adopting occlusion strategies, and then reviewing a
host of methodological issues relating to these techniques.
These included cuff pressure (<100mmHg), duration (3-4 sets
of 20RM load), and discussion as to whether a cuff should be
maintained or removed between sets (the recommendation
was to maintain occlusion throughout).
Bens overview of how he deals with strength and conditioning
in injured athletes was hugely interesting. Added to this was
the information that Ben gave on the specifics of occlusion
training. Both these components ultimately made for a hugely
interesting presentation and one that was well received by all
those who had the pleasure to listen to it.

Barry Spiering More bang for your buck! Maintaining

peak physical performance during the competitive season
the minimal dose response
Barry currently works as a research physiologist in the military
performance division at the US Army Research Institute of
Environmental Medicine (USARIEM). The overarching goal
of his research at USARIEM is to optimise training strategies
to maximise physical performance and minimise injury risk in
It is widely accepted that during the competitive season
S&C coaches face the challenge of balancing the demands of
frequent competitions, sport practices, and travel requirements,
alongside adequate time for recovery and regeneration. These
competing demands restrict the amount of time available for
fitness training. If fitness training is reduced inappropriately
(or if it is eliminated altogether), substantial losses in
performance will occur. Barrys presentation aimed to identify
the minimal dose of training necessary to maintain peak
physical performance when faced with limited training time.
The session attendees were challenged to consider a number
of key questions: first, is maintaining physical performance
really a problem? Drawing on research by Schmidt et al
(2005), Barry suggested that performing too little training
results in performance decrements. However, work presented
by Kraemer et al (2004) additionally proposed that too
much training and/or allowing too little recovery results
in performance decrements! So what is the answer? Barry
recommended that by identifying an effective minimal dose
of training S&C coaches may be able to assist in maintaining
performance while still allowing for recovery.
Moving on to endurance training, and more specifically
the maintenance of endurance performance, Barry again
raised the minimal dose question. He pointed out that the
available research was not carried out on athletes and should
be interpreted with caution, but he went on to propose that

as little as two sessions per week can maintain VO2max for

up to 15 weeks and as little as 13 minutes of exercise per day
can contribute to maintenance of VO2max. He was keen to
stress, however, that the proviso around these parameters was
the maintenance of intensity: it must be maintained as high as
reasonably possible. With this in mind, he urged the session
attendees to consider whether their athletes were already
getting sufficient training with practices/competitions. He
recommended that S&C coaches assessed whether practices
themselves may, or may not, be strenuous enough to match
game demands and whether there was benefit from additional
interval training.
The minimal dose of strength training again focused around
frequency and volume: it was suggested that as little as one
session per week can maintain muscle strength and size for
up to eight months, and as little as one set per exercise can
reap similar benefits. Both these programming variations
still required that intensity be maintained as a priority: Barry
cited that the specific intensity was unknown but it must be
maintained as high as reasonably possible.
In summary, Barry suggested that the key to maintaining
performance was to maintain intensity: although both training
volume and frequency can be reduced, maintaining intensity
was paramount. For clarity, he stressed that it should be
remembered that intensity is a relative term and relative both
to the athletes maximal capacity and their pre-season training
Barry was an entertaining and informative speaker. He gave
a clear, concise explanation of the concept of the minimal
dose response and his work, underpinned with academic
research, was able to provide straightforward, practical

Andy Hudson A new method of evaluating acceleration

demands in elite mens hockey

Allan Macdonald
Embracing an integrated approach to S&C in judo

Andy Hudson is the lead S&C coach to the GB mens hockey

team, which has made great improvements over the last few
years, and which came agonisingly close to medals at the
London Olympics. A highly experienced coach, Andy is also a
UKSCA tutor and assessor.

number of studies have now published data on various game

situations, one of Andys key messages was that the data needs
to be specific not only to the level of performance, but also to
the type of game that the team will play. Although general data
can be useful, it is ultimately limited to the context in which it
is collected.

Allan Macdonald is a zestful and knowledgeable S&C coach

working within Scottish and GB judo. In this insightful
presentation he outlined the relationships and importance
of integrated working among the professionals planning
and delivering performance programmes within the GB and
JudoScotland plans.

The data collected is then used to guide training across a

range of areas. Andys GPS analysis showed that the data
on acceleration, maximum speed, and deceleration is used
to develop speed and agility programmes that specifically
address the patterns that players will face in a game. Similarly,
the overall movement profiles are used to develop specific
endurance-based programmes that address the sprint
durability needed in elite hockey.

Allan addressed first common injury and strategy for

prevention; second, a judo specific conditioning case study.
and third, judo strength.

Andys presentation, as with most over the weekend, outlined

the extensive planning and analysis that is underpinning
performance at the elite level. Over the past few years, the
scientific support underpinning performance in the majority
of sports has revolutionised the input required to ultimately
achieve success. Today, a great deal of data is being generated
, both in games and in training, and a S&C coach requires the
abilities to handle and analyse this data and use it to generate
effective training inputs.
Andys presentation outlined how he uses GPS data to build
up a clear picture of the precise movement nature of elite
hockey, and also how he uses this data to build effective
training programmes that ensure his athletes are able to
maximise the performance in the game context. Although a


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Andys presentation gave an excellent insight into the work

being performed at elite level, and how technology can
enhance training provision. Clearly, Olympic success did not
happen by chance and was the result of hard work, based on
extensive and strategic data collection.


A detailed needs analysis outlined the physical demands of

the elite judo athlete and highlighted the importance of Injury
Prevention Integration and the essential links with the team
physiotherapist and technical coaches.
Injury prevention is of critical importance. A core aim of the
work is to mitigate injury and minimise days lost to training
through injury. Allan illustrated, through statistical data, the
prevalence of knee and shoulder injury in the population
of elite judo practitioners. Focusing on the shoulder, Allan
presented a thoroughly detailed description of the functional


anatomy of the shoulder and demonstrated how a variety of

judo throws and falls can lead to injuries shoulder dislocation,
rotator cuff injury, SLAP lesion and shoulder impingement.
Strategies for injury prevention included maintenance of
internal and external rotation and thoracic spine and posterior
shoulder capsule mobility. The focus was on mobilising and
strengthening the mid-lower trapezius, but the inclusion of
shoulder injury prevention work during technical session
warm-up was also emphasised. The benefits of including the
snatch and derivative movements and work on rings were
highlighted as useful in this respect.
Continuous monitoring of athletes is essential to injury
prevention. Regular physiotherapy, shoulder-specific profiling
monthly and after every peak, together with weekly team
meetings to discuss training status, were key to identifying
potential problems and making early interventions. However,
some athletes were monitored weekly, mainly those who
demonstrated enhanced risks such as changes in key measure
of shoulder external and internal rotation for vulnerable
athletes. (continued on next page)


conference reports

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

judo-specific conditioning, with a view to enhancing technical
and tactical decision-making under conditions of fatigue.

(continued from page 13)

The effectiveness of the teams strategy for injury prevention
was illustrated by data on training status, over the period from
January 2011 to April 2012, which showed a very significant
reduction in those unable to train(from 20% to 4%).

Summarising, Allan highlighted that judo training could

be manipulated to enhance both anaerobic threshold and
VO2 max. He reported the use of eight-to 10-week aerobicanaerobic blocks pre-competition two to three times a year.
These blocks went from being general conditioning to judospecific situations under contest fatigue levels.

The judo conditioning case study presented began with an

event analysis which highlighted the variation in demand in
terms of contest length, the intermittent nature of the activity
during a contest, large competition lactate ranges, movement
velocities which depend greatly on weight category and
the fight model.

Allan looked finally at judo-specific strength and the need

to optimise on the transfer from general strength and power
development to its application in judo. He compared a
traditional approach which would involve general strength
training in specific muscles and movements, then relying
on transfer occurring through the volume of judo technique
training, with an integrated approach where strength and
power is enhanced by the use of Olympic lifts, in addition
to general strength exercises to improve strength and control
around the hip.

A key issue to note was that although the aerobic capacity of

Elite Judoka is approximately between 50-60ml/kg/min, this
was not seen to be a performance indicator. An analysis of two
athletes showed that contest lactate ranges were 14.1mmo/L
for athlete 1 and 14.9mmo/L for athlete 2. Their aerobic
capacity varied slightly between the two, but both were in the
range previously mentioned. The average fight duration was
4+minutes and 3+minutes for each athlete respectively.

Enhanced transfer was facilitated by the judo technical coach

and S&C coach; while clearly defining their roles, they designed
an integrated approach whereby specific judo strength
sessions focus on developing weak points of throws. Analysis
of individual techniques and the subsequent identification
of areas for improvement indicated judo strength exercise
selection. Innovative integrated sessions were aligned to close
monitoring of force mechanics highlighting a strategy where
the focus was on the power of the throw in order to optimise
skill transfer.

A key point to note is that despite this analysis indicating

large contest demands on the anaerobic glycolysis, lactate
levels achieved during judo technical training and practice are
Examples of metabolic conditioning sessions highlighted the
need for specificity and measurable performance outcomes
relating to the anaerobic conditioning.
Emphasis was also placed on lactate tolerance and the use of

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Courses include:

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Determinants of
repeat sprint ability
Repeat sprint ability (RSA) describes the ability of an athlete to recover and maintain
maximal performance during subsequent sprints, an attribute considered important to team
sports. This ability is often trained and measured via high-intensity sprints, interspersed
with brief recovery bouts (30s).
Most strength and conditioning coaches agree that for validity and dynamic
correspondence, the RSA training session or testing protocol should resemble the work:rest
ratio (W:R) and movement mechanics of the sport in question. What is less clear are the
physiological variables most responsible for improving RSA. This will be the topic of this
brief review, whereby the fitness parameters VO2max, lactate threshold and anaerobic
power will be analysed.
For the purposes of this paper, the term sprint refers to efforts of 10s, whereby peak
power/velocity can be maintained throughout the repetition. This sprint duration is valid,
as a recent review of RSA by Spencer et al13 found that field-based team sports are quite
consistent in mean sprint time and distance: 2-3s and 10-20m respectively.
Anthony Turner, MSc, PGCE, ASCC, CSCS*D / Perry Stewart, MSc, ASCC, CSCS / Chris Bishop, MSc, ASCC
Shyam Chavda MSc, ASCC, CSCS, CES, BWL2 / Mike Edwards MSc, ASCC / Phil Barter, MSc, PGCE, BSc, TF, HEA
The biochemistry of RSA
Maximal effort sprints rely on a fast
and constant turnover of adenosine
triphosphate (ATP), powered primarily
by the phosphocreatine (PCr) system,
with progressive support from anaerobic
glycolysis.9 The ability to deplete large
amounts of high-energy phosphates at a
fast rate influences sprint speed.10
If performance is to be maintained across
successive sprints, rest periods must be
sufficient enough to allow the aerobic
system to resynthesise PCr, remove
phosphate (Pi) and oxidise lactate. For
example, sprints of ~5s performed every
120s show no significant decreases in
performance after 15 sprints. Only when
recovery is reduced to 90s does fatigue
significantly affect sprint time, but this is
only after the eleventh sprint.3
Also, Balsom et al4 found that 40 x 15m
sprints (around 2.6s), with 30s rest could
be completed without any reduction in
performance. However, 30m (4.5s) and 40m

(6s) sprint times increased significantly,

and after only the third 40m sprint, times
were already significantly longer.4
Thus, the recovery required between
repetitions is dependent on sprint
duration and frequency. Of course, within
sport, there is no consistent pattern, so
the strength and conditioning coach
must look to enhance recovery mechanics
and/or reduce the fatigue incurred with
repeated sprints. Suggestions for these are
discussed below.
Because PCr is resynthesised by the
aerobic system,9 it is often assumed that
a high aerobic capacity (specifically
VO2max) will lead to quicker recovery
rates between sprints, thus improving
RSA. However, the relationship between
conflicting findings, potentially due to
the RSA test used in the methodologies.
A moderate correlation (r = -0.35) between
VO2max and RSA was found when using


The inability to
maintain RSA
also appears
to be linked
with the
of metabolites


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

RSA is a complex component of fitness,

which will challenge an athletes aerobic
and anaerobic capacity along with their
neuromuscular capability
8 x 40m sprints with 30s
of active recovery between
sprints,1 but not 6 x 20m
sprints with 20s of recovery.2
The discrepancy is probably
attributable to the length of
the sprints used, as this may
alter the contribution of the
aerobic system.4 In essence,
VO2max has not been reported
to relate to RSA when sprints of
less than 40m (or 6s) have been
used.8 Also, in protocols using
W:R 1:5, there may be sufficient

Guidelines for RSA training

Increase anaerobic qualities such as strength,
power and speed to promote Type II fibre content
and PCr stores. The former two qualities are best
developed in the gym
When developing the above, ensure athletes are
well rested between reps/sets to ensure gains in
these are maximised
Improve athlete vOBLA. Where velocity or OBLA
cannot be directly calculated, then using RSAs
that produce a drop-off in performance probably
indicate that the athlete is producing lactate.
With continued training here, lactate tolerance
can be developed
Consider using RSAs that have inconsistent W:Rs
and sprint distances (the majority of distances
should be 20m)
Utilise movements that best replicate the sport
being trained; this may involve changes of direction
Develop VO2max in athletes who experience efforts
>6s or who are regularly required to cover >40m
per interval at speed.


recovery provided for the aerobic system

to resynthesise ATP and PCr despite an
athletes aerobic capacity.
Although the issue of whether RSA
is affected by a high VO2max seems
dependent on the protocol used, one must
consider the tests validity to the sport in
question. For example, players from most
sports are expected to maintain RSA over
many more sprints than the number used
in many of the current protocols. Also,
sprints are not done with a unique and
constant W:R. Therefore, the significance
of a high VO2max may be more important
only after a certain number of sprints.14
It follows that researchers are doubtful
about concluding that VO2max is not an
important variable to RSA until protocols
of match duration are performed.7

Anaerobic power
Da Silva et al8 (protocol aforementioned)
and Pyne et al11 (using 6 x 30m sprints
with 20s rest) found that the strongest
predictor of RSA was anaerobic power
ie, the fastest individual sprint time; this
explained 78% of the variance and had
a relationship (r) of 0.66 respectively.
Results suggest that in addition to
training targeting the improvement of
vOBLA, it should also focus on improving
sprint speed, strength and power.
Also, Type II muscle fibres contain higher
amounts of PCr than Type I,12 suggesting
that individuals with a greater percentage

of fast-twitch fibres (either through

genetics or high-intensity training) may
be able to replenish ATP faster via the
PCr system when working anaerobically
RSA is a complex component of fitness,
which will challenge an athletes aerobic
and anaerobic capacity along with their
neuromuscular capability. Although
there are a host of training strategies
which can be used to develop it, the
guidelines on page 16 may help strength
and conditioning coaches in prescribing
RSA training.

Lactate threshold
Most studies use VO2max as the major
indicator of aerobic fitness. However,
because VO2max is largely determined by
central factors,5 RSA may more strongly
correlate with peripheral factors.13 For
example, Da Silva et al8 showed that an
RSA test consisting of 7 x 35m sprints
(involving a change of direction), as well
as a between-sprint recovery period of
25s, produced high values of lactate (15.4
2.2mmol/L), thus demonstrating the large
contribution of anaerobic glycolysis.
performance also appears to be linked
with the accumulation of metabolites,
such as increases in H+ and Pi and the
depletion of muscle PCr.13 Logically, Da
Silva et al8 found that the velocity at onset
of blood lactate accumulation (vOBLA)
best correlated with RSA performance
(r = -0.49); vOBLA reflects peripheral
aerobic training adaptations and is
associated with an increased capillary
density and capacity to transport lactate
and H+ ions.6, 15
Therefore, to improve RSA, it appears
prudent to target the development of





ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

1. Aziz, A R, Chia, M, and Teh, K C. (2000). The
relationship between maximal oxygen uptake
and repeated sprint performance indices in field
hockey and soccer players. J Sports Med Phys
Fitness, 40: 195200.
2. Aziz, A R, Mukherjee, S, Chia, M, and Teh,
K C. (2007). Relationship between measured
maximal oxygen uptake and aerobic endurance
performance with running repeated sprint ability
in young elite soccer players. J Sports Med Phys
Fitness, 7: 401407.
3. Balsom, P, Seger, J, Sjodin, B, and Ekblom, B.
(1992). Maximal-intensity intermittent exercise:
effect of recovery duration. Int J Sports Med, 13:
4. Balsom, P D, Seger, Y J, Sjdin, B, and Ekblom,
B. (1992). Physiological responses to maximal
intensity intermittent exercise. Euro J App Phys
Occ Phys, 65(2): 144-149.
5. Basset, D R, Howley, E T. (2000). Limiting factors
for maximum oxygen uptake and determinants
of endurance performance. Med Sci Sports Ex, 32:

6. Billat, V L, Sirvent, P, Py, G, Koralsztein, J P,

Mercier, J. (2003). The concept of maximal lactate
steady state. Sports Med, 33: 406426.
7. Castagna, C, Manzi, M., DOttavio, S, Annino,
G, Padua, E, Bishop, D. (2007). Relation between
maximal aerobic power and the ability to repeat
sprints in young basketball players. J Strength
Cond Res, 21(4): 11721176.
8. Da Silva, J F, Guglielmo, L G A, Bishop, D. (2010).
Relationship between different measures of aerobic
fitness and repeated sprint ability in elite soccer
players. J Strength Cond Res, 24(8): 21152121.
9. Gaitanos, G C, Williams, C, Boobis, L H, Brooks,
S. (1993). Human muscle metabolism during
intermittent maximal exercise. J App Phys, 75(2):
10. Hirvonen, J, Rehunen, S, Rusko, H, Hrknen,
M. (1987). Breakdown of high-energy phosphate
compounds and lactate accumulation during short
supramaximal exercise. Euro J App Phys Occ Phys,
56(3): 253-259.

11. Pyne, D B, Saunders, P U, Montgomery, P G, Hewitt,

A J, Sheehan, K. (2008). Relationships between
repeated sprint testing, speed, and endurance.
J Strength Cond Res, 22(5): 1633 1637.
12. SantAna Pereira, J A, Sargeant, A J, Rademaker,
A C, de Haan, A, van Mechelen, W. (1996). Myosin
heavy chain isoform expression and high energy
phosphate content in human muscle fibres at rest
and post-exercise. J Phys, 496(2): 583-588.
13. Spencer, M, Bishop, D, Dawson, B, and
Goodman, C. (2005). Physiological and metabolic
responses of repeated-sprint activities. Sports Med,
35: 10251044.
14. Thebault, N, Leger, L A, Passelergue, P. (2011).
Repeated-sprint ability and aerobic fitness. J
Strength Cond Res, 25(10): 28572865.
15. Thomas, C, Sirvent, P, Perrey, S, Raynaud, E,
Mercier, J. (2004). Relationships between maximal
muscle oxidative capacity and blood lactate
removal after supramaximal exercise and fatigue
indexes in humans. J App Phys, 97: 2132-2138.



Anthony Turner, MSc, PGCE, ASCC,

Shyam Chavda MSc, ASCC, CSCS, CES, BWL2


Anthony Turner is a strength

and conditioning coach and the
programme leader for the MSc in
strength and conditioning at the
London Sport Institute, Middlesex

Shyam is an accredited UKSCA coach

and has a Masters from Middlesex
University. He is currently a strength
and conditioning coach for the
British Fencing Academy and QPR
foundation, as well as a sessional
lecturer and head weightlifting coach
at Middlesex University.

Perry Stewart, MSc, ASCC, CSCS

Mike Edwards MSc, ASCC

Perry Stewart is the lead academy

strength and conditioning coach
and sport scientist at Queens
Park Rangers Football Club and
is a sessional lecturer in strength
and conditioning at Middlesex

Mike Edwards has completed a Masters

degree in strength and conditioning
and is currently working in education.
He has supplied sport science and
strength and conditioning services
to British Fencing, professional
footballers, Muay Thai fighters and
recreational youth athletes.

Chris Bishop, MSc, ASCC

Phil Barter, MSc, PGCE, BSc, TF, HEA

Chris completed his MSc in

strength and conditioning at
he is currently a strength and
conditioning coach and sessional
lecturer. Chris is also the lead coach
for Optimum Healthcare Solutions
and Harpenden Lawn Tennis Club.

Phil Barter is the director of

programmes for sport and programme
leader for the BSc in sport and exercise
science at the London Sport Institute,
Middlesex University. Phil is also a
teaching fellow and a FA licensed
football coach.



ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Variation of muscle-tendon flexibility during

different training sessions of a microcycle in
soccer: practical applications
Marco De Michelis, MSc, BSc, DUEPP / University of Motor Science, Turin, Italy
This research focuses on the
variation of muscle-tendon flexibility
(MTF) in hamstring and back muscles
during different training sessions of
a microcycle in soccer. The sample
examined consisted of 16 midlevel football players, tested at four
different times during the training
session: before warm-up (pre warmup), after warm-up (post warmup), after main training (post main
training) and after cool-down (post
cool-down). Tests were performed
through Sit and Reach Test (SRT).
There was a significant increase
(p<0.04) in flexibility in the pre
warm-up and post cool-down trials
compared to the sprint session,
although during the technicaltactical session the MTF did not show
any significant change. The data
as evaluated, being specific to the
nature of the sample the sport of
soccer and the hamstring muscles
in particular showed that neither
warm-up nor training sessions
provide the highest values of range
of motion (ROM), suggesting the need
for additional stretching exercises
to reach the maximum ROM at the
beginning of workouts.
Key words:
muscle-tendon flexibility,
micro-cycle, injury, hamstring,
Authors e-mail address:

Strength and conditioning is a key element
in coping with the various demands of a
soccer game,16 which consists of frequent
high intensity anaerobic bouts alternated
almost every six seconds with aerobic
phases of lower intensity: rest periods,
jogging, walking, utility movements and ball
stop as imposed by the game rules.17
Osgnach et al19 showed that 46% of the total
amount of energetic cost, and almost 25%
of total distance covered, rely on anaerobic
systems during the game. Several studies6
highlight how soccer players need to improve
different physical skills to be competitive,
such as explosive strength, quickness, agility
and endurance. Among these, one aspect in
particular is often underestimated and its
training often neglected: namely mobility of
the locomotive apparatus.
Recent surveys3,25 highlight how the mobility
of the locomotive apparatus is a determining
factor in regard to developing balanced
physical fitness. This physical skill consists
of joint mobility (JM) in conjunction with
muscle-tendon flexibility (MTF).10
JM is the ability to perform wide
movements around joints, whereas MTF
represents the maximum longitudinal
stretching sustainable by muscle-tendon
structures. Gaining flexibility requires an
athlete to stretch their muscles, without
incurring an injury, through the type of
movement ranges that can occur during a
game, and if insufficient range of motion is
achievable, this may be the cause of possible
overstretching and damage.
Furthermore, it has been shown that during
repeated high intensity bouts, the onset
of fatigue significantly reduces MTF.24
Considering this finding, training the
reserve of MTF seems to be very important.
MTF reserve is the difference between
the higher physiological range of motion
(ROM) sustainable by the muscle-tendon
unit (MTU) via active stretching and that
achieved by passive stretching.11 In other
words, achieving higher levels of active MTF
compensates for the physiological decrease
in ROM following fatiguing conditions.24


the maximum
sustainable by


ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

fitness and muscular endurance, as
well as resistance to fatigue in terms of
strength and specific movements, could
allow athletes to withstand the onset of
fatigue and consequently reduce injury
risks.2 Aerobic and muscular endurance
can improve economy of movement,
which may help in the maintenance
of technique, potentially improving
performance and reducing the risk of
sustaining injuries.

soccer-specific training and matches.8

The aim is to use this data to provide
useful applications for a more effective
warm-up protocol suitable for soccer
training sessions, one which is able
to meet the specific requirements of
hamstring flexibility.
Sixteen mid-level football players were
tested (aged 161 years, height 1746
cm, body mass 668 kg, 101 years of
training). They were members of the
academy of an Italian semi-professional
football team during the season
2009/2010. These athletes competed
in a regional-level championship and
carried out three training sessions per
week, plus a match on Sunday. Training
sessions were carried out from 18:30
to 20:00 p.m. The match was played
on Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. At
the time of testing, no athlete reported
any physical impairment capable of
affecting test results.

Several authors3,25 have found a strong

inverse correlation between reduced
MTF values and injury onset in
soccer. It seems that the lack of MTF
of hamstring muscles is related to
muscle-tendon injuries because of the
apparent decrease of strain tension
absorption capacity of the hamstring
muscles during the game. Hartig
and Henderson14 found a correlation
between the training of hamstring
flexibility and strain occurrence. They
monitored a sample of US Marines
troops during a 13-week training
period and found that the group who
underwent training on hamstring
flexibility had significantly less strain
injuries than the group which did not
(p<0.02). However, it is important to
state that hamstring strain injuries are
not only concerned with a lack of MTF:
they have a multi-factorial aetiology
such as fatigue, strength imbalance
between flexors and extensors thigh
muscles and most importantly the
pre-injury situation.4,13

measurements was a wooden box with
a millimeter scale attached to the upper
surface, with a range of 0-60 cm, where
0 was closer to the subject. On the front
side of the box, a wooden triangle with
a base of 17 cm was attached with the
vertex pointing downward, making an
angle of 36, the so-called Pioks angle.

The scientific literature shows that

soccer is a very traumatic sport, with
reports of several types of strain injury,
especially of leg flexor muscles in
high level soccer. Some 85% of injuries
occur on lower limbs, of which, 23%
are thigh strains, which themselves are
more frequent in hamstring muscles
than in quadriceps.8,21 The literature8
reports that the main soccer-specific
actions involved in thigh strains are
performing sprint bouts and kicks to
the ball; although these do occur during
training, they are most frequent during
Analysis of MTF variation within
specific training sessions therefore
becomes very important in providing
a practical preventive measure.5,24
However, the trends assumed by MTF
during training sessions in soccer are
currently unknown. The purpose of
this study was to generate information
about the most appropriate time to
perform PSS within training sessions,
with emphasis on the hamstring
muscles, which are often injured during


Tests development
To provide the coach with practical
applications regarding the use of
stretching exercises during training
sessions, assessment through the sit
and reach test (SRT) occurred at four
different times during the workout:
1. Before warm-up (pre warm-up)
2. After warm-up (post warm-up)

3. After main phase of training

(post main training)
4. After cool-down (post cool-down).
Individually, subjects sat on the ground,
with the plantar surface firmly pressed
against the vertical side of the wooden
box, with 0 value of the scale orientated
toward the subject.
The evaluation point was the distal
extremity of the middle fingers. During
the tests, the order of overlapping of
hands was consistent and subjects
did not wear shoes or gloves. With
both hands overlapped, centred on
the middle fingers, subjects flexed the
trunk forward, pivoting from the hip. To
avoid invalid measurements, a second
operator checked that no jerking
movements occurred during flexion.
Maximum extension was held for no
more than two seconds.
For each test, one execution was allowed
for each subject in order to avoid the
effect of the muscle-tendon structure
adapting to stretching.9
Chronology of tests
Soccer requires a range of physical
skills to be trained during a microcycle.7 It can also be considered that
different training focuses will have
different effects on the players. For this
reason, the aim of this study was to
monitor MTF trends during different
training sessions, containing different
technical-conditioning elements.
Rest days were interspersed through
the microcycle, such as Mondays
(day after match), Thursdays and the
Saturday before the match. A third
aerobic training session on Wednesday
was arranged but was not included in
the results, as consistent measurements
could not be obtained because there
was no standard protocol for all players.

Table 1. Sprint training session into the microcycle of tests

TUESDAY / Session Duration: 90

1. Warm-up


low intensity match simulation +

During general warm-up, typical track

and field sprint warm-up exercises
were performed, such as skip, heel kick,
etc. Furthermore, JM exercises were
performed, focusing on the shoulder
and pelvic girdle, to improve the ROM
of the main joints involved in this sport.
Specific warm-up was composed of a
match simulation with progressively
increasing intensity and limited body
contacts, with reduced ball touches;
with a total duration of 15 minutes.
The main training was composed of
three essential drills, with a duration of
65 minutes.

Agility and stride rate drills: quick

feet movement limiting ground

contact time around cones or
movement sideward or forward
beyond a line traced on the ground

Resisted sprint: acceleration over 20

metres resisted by a load of 5 kg tied
to the players waists by a cord

 echnical exercises: technical-tactical
exercises carried out by the coach to
improve team playing specific-skills.

A cool-down was performed to return

the body progressively back to starting
conditions, lowering heart rate and
reducing blood lactate by a low
intensity run of five minutes duration.
The skills training on the Tuesday
was important for improving agility
capacity for shifting in tight spaces,
the ability to accelerate and
deceleration over short distances of
approximately 20 metres, and also
for training sprint stride rate and
stride length.16
On Fridays, the players had the
technical-tactical session (Table 2). The
main training phase lasted 60 minutes
and consisted of technical-tactical



resisted sprint

technical/tactical (trainer)

low intensity run




components directed by the head

coach, while warm-up and cool-down
were the same as for the sprint session.
Statistical analysis
MTF values were assessed via
descriptive statistics using nonparametric Friedmans Anova Test,
comparing training session data.
Afterwards, Dunnss Post Hoc Test
was performed to compare paired data
within different training sessions. The
level of significance was set at p<0.05.
Analysis of MTF variation within
sprint training session
Friedmans Anova (Figure 1, on page
14) showed a significant (p<0.04)
difference in range of motion within
the session, and Dunnss Post Hoc
found a statistically significant increase
of +2.3% of MTF on post cool-down trial
compared to pre warm-up (Table 3, on
page 23).
Analysis of MTF variation within
technical-tactical training session
Friedmans Anova (Figure 2, on page 22)
did not show any statistically significant
differences within the session (p<0.6),
despite a mean percentage increase of
+2.6% within pre warm-up vs post cooldown trials (Table 3).
Although the data analysis did not show
any significant decrease in hamstring
MTF after warm-up, the sprint training
MTF showed a statistically significant
variation (p<0.04) during the whole
session, with an increase of +2.3% on
post cool-down trial compared to pre
warm-up one (Table 3).
In respect to findings from the early
phase of the sprint session, data showed
that athletes have the highest values of
ROM at the end of training. A similar
trend was found in high level karate.10

FRIDAY / Session Duration: 90

1. Warm-up

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Table 2. Technical-tactical training session on Friday into the microcycle of tests

3. Cool-down

Training sessions:
On Tuesdays, for the sprint session
(Table 1), the main part of the workout
focused on the improvement of stride
rate and quickness.


athletic gaits and joint mobility

2. Main-phase sprint stride rate and agility drills



low intensity match simulation +


athletic gaits and joint mobility

2. Main-phase game specific situations


technical/tactical (coach)

low intensity run

3. Cool-down


These results suggest that during

a sprint session hamstring MTF
increases from the beginning to the
end of training, and the highest values
of ROM are achieved just at the end of
training, where as during the technicaltactical session MTF does not undergo
any change. With this in mind, players
may be exposed to injury if insufficient
MTF is present, especially where main
actions responsible for injuries are
performed, such as sprints and soccerspecific actions.8
The practice of stretching during sport
activity is very diverse, both for warmup and cool-down purposes. A recent
survey5 shows that the most frequently
performed stretching technique during
football training is PSS. There is debate
as to the effect of static stretching
on performance, with some research
questioning the negative effects of
PSS on strength, speed and reactivity
values, acutely1,15,1 8 or chronically.18
The study of Dadebo et al5 provides
some information from different
divisions of English professional
football leagues (from Premiership
to Division 3) about the practice of
stretching exercises within training
sessions: they found that the time
dedicated to flexibility takes up almost
half of the whole training microcycle
volume; most part clubs performed PSS
just after warm-up. The latter research
found an important correlation between
and the rate of hamstrings strains,
suggesting that PSS with at least 1530
seconds of holding time is the most
effective methodology directly related
to the decrease in hamstrings strain


However, in the scientific literature

there are no studies which have
investigated MTF trends within


(text continued on page 23)



During the technical-tactical training

session, MTF analysis did not show
any statistically significant increase.
This may have been due to the different
effects of training on the body, or as a
result of reduced metabolic demands
of the session where density of load
ie, work to rest ratio was less than
for the sprint session, and there were
long pauses due to explanations by the
coach and varying the contents of the
training session. The first result of the
present investigation and similar to
other studies10 is that warm-up alone
is not enough to provide the highest
level of hamstring MTF.



ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

training sessions in this sport. It is

therefore difficult to provide practical
applications on where to introduce
stretching into training sessions and
for what purpose.

Sprint training session




Based on the findings of the current

research, it is suggested that stretching
performed as ROM recovery after
warm-up and at the end of training
would not be optimal, given the lack of
significant decrease in MTF. It may be
more appropriate to provide maximum
values of MTF at the beginning of both
training sessions, when MTF is lowest.


With the purpose of maximally

increasing the compliance of hamstrings, performing stretching exercises
before the warm-up phase can provide
the highest hamstrings ROM, possibly
reducing the risk of MTU injury during
the following training activity.

















Figure 1 Mean SRT of sprint training session; statistically significant differences within pre
warm-up vs post cool-down trials (p<0.04, +2.3%).


Technical-tactical training session















In respect to an aforementioned study,5

where it stated that the majority of
English professional clubs performed
stretching exercises just after warmup and highlighted optimal flexibility
protocols to decrease hamstrings strain
rate, the present research adds further
details based on the current data about
the optimal time to perform stretching
within a session.
Based on these findings, and those of
Dadebo et al,5 there are now suggestions
that incorporating PSS into training
sessions could occur at the outset of the
session, with 1530 seconds of holding
time. This approach is postulated
with the purpose of making the warmup phase more effective, and the
subsequent activity safer. This strategy
would allow players to enjoy higher
ROM during the warm-up, which could
allow them to undertake the whole
session with a higher level of range of
motion relative to a warm-up performed
without any stretching exercise. This
could be important in sessions, in which


Figure 2 Mean SRT of technical-tactical training session; no statistically significant differences
within trials (p<0.6, +2.6%).




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

players are required to kick the ball

or perform high intensity sprints, and
where there could be a high injury risk
situation, given the lack of increase of
MTF after warm-up compared to basal
values. However, the potential effects of
this strategy on power, speed etc would,
need to be considered.
During the sport-specific actions of
soccer, hamstring muscles undergo
dynamic stretches, both running and
kicking the ball. According to the
principle of specificity,12 warm-up
should therefore include some exercises
related to specific actions performed
in this game, with regard to hamstring
muscles. For this reason it could be
appropriate to insert additional active
dynamic stretching (ADS) exercises
after the warm-up phase, to simulate
hamstring-specific actions and ROM
sustained during the game for the
following training session.
Based on the findings of the current
research and looking at the specificity
of soccer, the combination of PSS,
warm-up and ADS could be an effective
protocol to prepare soccer players
both for training and matches for a
preventive purpose with regard to MTF.
However, the present research has some
limitations. It focuses only on MTF,
which is just one of many risk factors
involved in hamstring strain injury,
neglecting potential strength imbalance
between flexors and extensors, overall
strength of the hamstrings, previous
injury, overload, fatigue and improper
contents of training.4,13
The current research does not represent
an ultimate preventive training strategy
to avoid hamstring strain injury because
it neglects the other events implicated
in the injury process. Assessing the
other risk factors will provide a more
complete preventive protocol with
regard to hamstring muscles.

The main results of this study indicate
that warm-up alone is not enough to
provide the highest ROM for hamstring
muscles with respect to the sport of
soccer. This research also demonstrates
that hamstring muscle MTF does
not undergo any decrease during
typical training sessions. During a
conditioning session where sprinting
is the main target, hamstring muscles
undergo a significant constant increase
in flexibility during the whole workout,
reaching the maximum ROM just at
the end of the session, whereas in a
technical-tactical session hamstring
flexibility appears unchanged. The
latter session could be particularly
prone to hamstring strain injury, given
the trend of MTF shown and contents
performed. This session may need more
attention paid to stretching.
Stretching hamstring muscles at the
end of training sessions may therefore
be ineffective, given the lack of decrease
in flexibility by such musculature.
However, we advise performing PSS
exercises on basal conditions for a
preventive purpose, to provide athletes
with the highest levels of hamstring
ROM from the beginning of training.
This combination of PSS and warm-up
will allow soccer players to effectively
meet the hamstring demand of this
sport, regarding MTF. However, the
topics related to MTF alone are not
the only solutions for hamstring
strain injury prevention; given the
multi-factorial aetiology of hamstring
strains, additional focus on eccentric
strength, resistance to fatigue and preinjury treatment of such musculature
represent an optimal prevention
strategy in addition to an increase in

The most important finding of the

current research is the warning about
MTF trend within both
training sessions. In
Table 3. Mean average MTF values in two different training sessions through SRT
(within four different times among sessions).
addition to previous
research, the data
current investigation
Sprint session
30 8
mean that it is now
possible to arrange a
more complete warm Technical-tactical 309
up protocol to meet
of hamstring muscle
training sessions in
Values are expressed in cm
* = Mean percentage difference pre warm-up vs post cool down
= Statistically significant difference (p<0. 04) pre warm-up vs post cool down




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

1. Bazett-Jones D M., Gibson M H, McBride J
M. Sprint and vertical jump performances are
not affected by six weeks of static hamstring
stretching. Journal of strength and conditioning
research 2008; 22(1): 25-31.

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Medicine 2011; 39(6): 1226-1232.
9. Gabbe B J, Bennell K L, Wajswelner H, Finch
CF. Reliability of common lower extremity
musculoskeletal screening tests. Physical
Therapy in Sport 2004; 5: 90-97.

18. Needham R A, Morse C I, Degens H. The

acute effect of different warm-up protocols on
anaerobic performance in elite youth soccer
players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research 2009; 23(9): 2614-2620.

10. Gollin M, Luciano A, Colombero G, Dutto

L, Simonetti L. La variazione della flessibilit
durante la seduta di allenamento. SDS-Scuola
dello sport 2006; 69: 31-40.

3. Croisier J L. Factors associated with recurrent

hamstring injuries. Sports Med 2004; 34 (10): 681-695.

11. Gollin M. Lallenamento della mobilit dell

apparato locomotore. Alea, Milano. 2009 pp. 1920.

19. Osgnach C, Poser S, Bernardini R, Rinaldo

R, Di Prampero P E. Energy Cost and metabolic
power in elite soccer: a new match analysis
approach. Medicine and Science in Sports and
Exercise 2010; 42(1): 170-178.

12. Graham-Smith P, Comfort P, Jones P,

Matthews M. Movements specificity what does
it mean? Professional Strength and Conditioning
2012; 24. 10-12.

20. Stone K J, Oliver J L. The effect of 45 minutes

of soccer-specific exercise on the performance
of soccer skills. International Journal of Sports
Physiology and Performance 2009; 4:163-165.

13. Greig M, Siegler J C. Soccer-specific fatigue

and eccentric hamstrings muscle strength.
Journal of Athletic Training 2009; 44(2): 180-184.

21. Waldn M, Hgglund M, Ekstrand J. UEFA

Champions League study: a prospective study of
injuries in professional football during the 20012002 season. Br J Sports Med 2005; 39: 542-546.

5. Dadebo B, White J, George K P. A survey of

flexibility training protocols and hamstring
strains in professional football clubs in England.
Br J Sports Med 2004; 38: 388-394.
6. Dellal A, Chamari K, Pintus A, Girard O, Cotte
T, Keller D. Heart rate responses during smallsided games and short intermittent running
training in elite soccer players: a comparative
study. Journal of Strength and Conditioning
Research 2008; 22(5): 1449-1457.
7. Deutsch M, Lloyd R. Effect of order of exercise
on performance during a complex training
session in rugby players. Journal of Sport
Sciences 2008; 26(8): 803-809.
8. Ekstrand J, Hgglund M, Waldn M.
Epidemiology of muscle injuries in professional

14. Hartig D. E., Henderson J. M., Increasing

hamstring flexibility decreases lower extremity
overuse injuries in military basic trainees.
American Journal of Sports Medicine 1999; 27(2):
15. Kokkonen J, Nelson A G, Eldredge C,
Winchester J B. Chronic static stretching
improves exercise performance. Med Sci Sports
Exerc 2007 ; 39(10): 1825-1831.
16. Le Gall F. Tests et exercices en football. Vigot.
2002 pp. 34.
17. Mohr M, Krustrup P, Bangsbo J. Match

Stephen Manuel: Technical Instructor

2011 Great Britain Powerlifting Federation Senior champion

2011 European Championship Gold Medalist (deadlift)

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

performance of high-standard soccer players

with special reference to development of fatigue.
J Sports Sci 2003; 21: 519-528.

2. Brooks J, Fuller C, Kemp S, Reddin D. Incidence,

risk and prevention of hamstring muscle injuries
in professional Rugby Union. Am J Sports Med
2006; 34(8): 1297-1307.

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Ferret J-M. Strength imbalances and prevention
of hamstring injury in professional soccer
players. American Journal of Sports Medicine
2008; 36 (8): 1469-1475.


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injuries during European Championships 20042005. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 2007;
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Mariucci, Perugia. 2009 pp. 419-424.
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of Bolton

Abstracts from
the UKSCA 2012
Annual Conference
Over the next nine pages you can read the poster abstracts which were
submitted for all the presentations being made at last years UKSCA
Annual Conference. You can now view full copies of the posters in the
members section of the UKSCA website.

Fundamental movement tests are

linked to athletic performance for
youth rugby Union Players
Joanna Parsonage, 1 Paul Rainer, 1 Rhodri Williams, 2 Morgan Williams 1
University of Glamorgan, Division of Science and Sport, Pontypridd, Wales,
Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff, Wales
IntroductioN: Assessments of movement competencies have emerged in recent years. The aim of these
Fundamental Movement Screens (FMS) is to bridge the gap between pre-participation medical screening and physical
performance testing. In addition, FMS aims to objectively measure fundamental movement patterns that are modifiable
and indicative of an increased likelihood of sustaining musculoskeletal injury. Previous research has provided some
evidence to support their use in identifying those at risk of injury. However, the link with athletic performance has not
been established. Recently, we developed a Fundamental Movement Test (FMT) specifically for screening under-16year-old rugby union players.
PurposE: The purpose of this study was to group the youth rugby under-16-year-old players based on their FMT scores.
By comparing the groups vertical jump, sprint and endurance test performances, it was hypothesised that differences
between groups would provide test validity and support for the use of FMT.
MethodS: Male youth rugby players (n=82; aged between 14 and 16 years; stature=175.86.4cm and mass=71.812.8kg)
took part in physical performance tests (40m sprint, countermovement jump [CMJ] and Yo-Yo-level 1) and the FMT that
comprised of: an overhead squat (OH squat); Romanian deadlift (RDL); single-leg squat (SL squat); double leg to single
led landing (DL-SL landing); sprinting and CMJ.
The FMT tasks were filmed and qualitatively assessed using a four point scale (0-3). Wards cluster analysis identified
three groups based on all FMT task scores. Contingency analysis confirmed which FMT tasks significantly differentiated
between groups and one-way analysis of variance with Tukeys HSD was used to compare groups on the performance

MSc Strength and Conditioning




Results and conclusioN: The FMT tasks that differentiated between groups were OH squat, SL squat, RDL and
CMJ. Overall, group 3 performed the best on OH squat and SL squat, with group 1 performing the best in RDL and
CMJ. Group 2 returned the lowest scores across all tasks. Stature and mass were not different between groups. Group
performance was different on all tests. For VJ post-hoc tests revealed group 3 jumped higher than group 2.
For all sprints, group 3 was faster than group 2 over 10m, 20m and 40m. Only at 40m was group 2 different compared
to group 1. Finally, groups 1 and 3 covered further distance on the Yo-YoR1 test than group 2. Group 3 versus 1 were no
different. The findings support the purported link about FMT and performance of running and jumping.

Tel: 01204 903603 |

Tel: 01204 903789 | for more information




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

The isometric mid-thigh pull: a valid strength

assessment for academy rugby players
Peter Ashcroft,1,2 Rhodri S Williams,3 Nick Davies,2 Joanna Parsonage,2 Ben Willey,4 Morgan D Williams.2.
University of York, York Sport, York, 2 University of Glamorgan, Division of Science and Sport, Pontypridd, Wales, 3 Welsh Rugby
Union, Cardiff, Wales, 4 Victorian Institute of Sport, Physical Preparation Department, Melbourne, Australia

ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

Assessing readiness for high-stress plyometrics

R A Bennett 1 , J E Goodwin 1 and N Linthorne 2. 1 School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Marys University College,
London. 2 School of Sport and Education, Brunel University
PurposE: The stress of performing particular plyometrics has been evident within the literature, and prescribed with caution
amongst athletes. Therefore, the NSCA have made recommendations that prior to plyometric training, athletes must be able to
back squat 1.5 times bodyweight, or squat 5 repetitions in 5 seconds at 60% 1RM value. This, however, is suggested with no scientific
evidence to support it. The aim of this current study, therefore, is to test the effects of selected physical characteristics on plyometric
performance, by correlating them with variables that represent readiness for plyometrics.

Introduction: Regional rugby academies in Wales provide the developmental pathway for potential future national
representatives. An essential part of the developmental programme is monitoring and evaluating the progress of the athletes aged
between 16 and 20 years. Strength assessments are particularly important given the focus that strength training plays in preparing
these players for senior competition. A test that can be easily administered with minimal disruption to the training schedule would
therefore be beneficial to the strength and conditioning coach. The isometric mid-thigh pull (IsoMTP) is an attractive alternative
to traditional strength testing because it is easily mastered, probably less stressful, and can be integrated with large groups with
minimal disruption to team schedules. It can also provide a measure of maximal strength (peak force) and speed-strength qualities
(eg, force or rate force development at given time points).

MethodOLOGY: 20 male subjects (age = 24 4 yrs, height = 181.1 6.8 cm, weight = 81 11 kg, resistance training history 4 1 years,
plyometric training history 2 1 years) were assessed initially on: maximal strength of the lower limb, (1RM squat score = 132 26
kg, normalised squat score = 2.41 0.4 kg/m2/3), vertical stiffness, and selected variables from performing 5 squats in 5 seconds at
60% 1RM on a force platform (peak force, RFD, and, total positive impulse). Subjects were then assessed on a variety of plyometric
exercises with ground force variables selected to determine readiness for plyometrics; CMJ, and, SJ (peak force, RFD, and total
impulse), DJ at 30, 50, and, 70 cm (1st peak force, 2nd peak force, 2nd peak RFD, total impulse, and, GCT).

This studys purpose was: 1) to investigate the physical characteristics of trained regional academy rugby players; 2) to determine
the reliability of force measures obtained from the IsoMTP; and 3) to assess the validity of IsoMTP measures by exploring their
relationship to traditional dynamic strength tests and measures of athletic performance.

All independent variables were then correlated with dependent variables, via a Pearson correlation co-efficient statistical test (p <
0.05 a priori). Visual evidence will also be evident, when comparing the force time profiles within the three DJ tasks, between the
strongest and weakest member of the subject group. Further correlations were also run against impulse and GCT within the three DJ
trials to assess the trade off between the two. All variables were normalised to bodyweight dividing by m2/3.

MethodS: Ten regional academy rugby players (age = 18.8 1.4 years; stature = 182.6 5.2 cm; and body mass = 96.1 12.1 kg; fat =
12.8 3.2%) were assessed for maximum dynamic strength (squat, deadlift, bench press, and overhead press), jump (vertical jump),
speed (10 and 40 m), and repeated sprint ability (phosphate decrement test), as part of their regular testing programme. Isometric
strength qualities were also determined using the IsoMTP, which was performed on a portable force plate (sampling at 400Hz) inside
a custom made testing rack. Players were tested on two separate occasions (24 hours apart) to determine the reliability of IsoMTP

Results: Results demonstrated significant correlations between squat strength and normalised SJ impulse (r = 0.67, r2 = 0.45), CMJ
impulse (r = 0.60, r2 = 0.36), CMJ peak force (r = 0.55, r2 = 0.30), and, CMJ RFD (r = 0.50, r2 = 0.25). Significant correlation was also
established between the time it takes to complete the 5 squats at 60% 1RM and between RFD in 5 squats trial and SJ RFD (r = 0.64,
r2 = 0.41). These correlations demonstrate that maximal strength and RFD capability enables greater performances in concentric
dominant jumping exercises.

Results and conclusioN: Peak force (ICC=0.90; CV=4.6%); force at 100 ms (ICC=0.92; CV=5.7%); and force at 200 ms (ICC=0.97;
CV=4.0%) derived from the IsoMTP were sufficiently reliable. Peak force was correlated to squat (r = 0.804) and deadlift (r = 0.914)
performance. When expressed relative to body weight, peak force was related to phosphate decrement total (r = -0.500) and force at
100ms was related to CMJ (r =0.781) and sprint performance at 10m (r = -0.661) and 40m (r = -0.808).
In conclusion, we have identified maximum and speed-strength measures obtained from the IsoMTP that are suitable for monitoring
regional rugby academy players. The IsoMTP appears to be a viable alternative to traditionally strength assessments. Future work is
needed to see how these measures change with training.


Richard Blagrove and Matthew Cotterill
School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Marys University College, London
PurposE: Over the course of a day the body undergoes a number of wave-like fluctuations, termed diurnal rhythms, that serve
to alter various biological functions. For athletes, these peaks and troughs highlight key time points in a day when the training of
certain physical qualities can be optimised. Diurnal variations have been shown to impact upon physical performances requiring
rapid application of force and power production, causing such variables to peak and trough in the late afternoon (16:00-20:00) and
early morning (06:00-09:00), respectively. Findings from previous studies are limited in an applied setting, as they often utilised
outcome measures which lacked functionality or recruited from non-athletic populations; therefore applying findings to the
physical preparation of athletes is problematic. The aim of this study was to establish whether diurnal variations exist in explosive
power exercises, using trained weightlifters.
MethodS: Eight male trained weightlifters (age 23yrs 2.92; height 179cm 7.5; body mass 85.2kg 9.01) from St Marys University
College Weightlifting Club attended the laboratory on five occasions at 06:00, 10:00, 14:00, 18:00 and 22:00 set in a random counterbalanced order, each separated by a minimum of 72 hours. Following a standardised warm-up, each participant performed three
repetitions of hang power clean (HPC), at 70% of 1 repetition maximum (RM), and three repetitions of a squat jump (SJ), at 30% of
their back squat 1RM. Peak power (PP), peak rate of force development (PRFD) and peak force (PF) were recorded for all repetitions.
A one-way repeated measures ANOVA was used to compare the time of day on body temperature, and PRFD, PF and PP.
Results: Analysis revealed a significant time of day effect for PRFD in the HPC (F (4,28) = 8.554, p<0.05), with post-hoc analysis
analysis showing a difference at 18:00 compared to 06:00 and 22:00. An effect for time of day was also observed in PF during the
HPC (F (4,28) = 4.835, p<0.05); however, the subsequent post-hoc test showed significant difference only at 10:00 compared to 06:00.
HPC-PP showed a time of day effect (F (4,28) = 4.387, p<0.05), but post-hoc analysis revealed no significance between time points. No
significant time of day effects were found for any of the kinetic variables measured during the SJ.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings indicate explosive weightlifting movements are susceptible to diurnal variations in trained lifters,
suggesting that in order to maximise adaptation, explosive weightlifting should not be performed in the early morning. Although a
large sample size may have revealed similar findings for a loaded SJ, there appears to be a degree of exercise specificity in the extent
to which the skill is affected by diurnal variations in athletic populations.




The difference in the two tests must be highlighted: a 1RM squat tests assesses the athletes maximal force production whereas the
5 squats trial provides a higher velocity task, converting the strength measure into a speed strength assessment, shifting along the
force-velocity curve closer to plyometric performance. However, no significant correlations were established between variables of
max strength, or speed strength and variables within the high-stress plyometric tasks with greater eccentric loading.
This provides scope to suggest that technical aspects of performing DJ trials, and, plyometric training history are imperative in
performance. However, indirect visual evidence was attained when comparing the strongest and weakest subjects of the cohort
group. The stronger subject demonstrated lower 1st peak forces, higher 2nd peak forces, and, shorter GCT, confirming the importance
of maximal strength for plyometrics.
Significant correlations were attained between vertical stiffness and GCT in DJ 30 (r = -0.529), DJ 50 (r = -0.455), and, although not
significant, a moderate strength correlation with DJ 70 (r = -0.409). Stiffness properties of the lower limb are therefore essential
for reducing contact times on ground strike, and are further emphasized in the positive transfer to reducing GCT within sprinting
performance. Aside from the main aim, there also seems to be a trade-off between GCT and impulse in the DJ trials, (significant
correlations were ; DJ 30, r = 0.78, DJ 50, r = 0.84, DJ 70, r = 0.87), which provides coaches information that they need to either focus
on reducing contact times or maximising jump height in DJ tasks.
CONCLUSION: Evidence shows that correlations are most evident between strength and concentric jump performance, explained
by simple specificity; however, visual evidence demonstrating differences in 1st peak, 2nd peak, and GCT show that injury and
performance factors are influenced by maximal strength. This supports the recommendations from the NSCA that higher levels of
maximal strength, and speed strength capabilities reduce injury potential and maximise adaptation and performance in plyometrics,
although training history and technical ability within plyometrics are essential.

The effects of heavy resistance exercise on leg

stiffness, ground contact time, and rate-of-force
development during fast-SSC exercise
Richard Clarke,1 Rhodri S Lloyd,1 Paul Read,1 Mark De Ste Croix,1 Jon Oliver2
Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, 2 School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff

PurposE: Post-activation potentiation (PAP) has been shown to increase rate of force development (RFD) of tetanic
contractions elicited at any frequency. Therefore it can be hypothesised that PAP may enhance the performance of
activities that require sub-maximal force and high velocity production, as demonstrated in fast stretch-shortening cycle
(SSC) activities such as maximal running velocity. The rest period between a potentiating stimulus (typically a heavy
resistance exercise [>90%1RM]) and a high velocity activity is important to exploit the effects of PAP whilst minimising
the influence of fatigue. Leg stiffness is required for optimal utilisation of fast-SSC activity and has previously been
identified as a key correlate of sprint performance. However, little research has been conducted into the PAP effect on
fast-SSC activities. The aims of the study were to (a) establish whether heavy resistance exercise has any potentiating
effect on leg stiffness (Kleg), ground contact time (GCT) or RFD during sub-maximal hopping, and (b) to identify the
optimal rest period required to elicit PAP.
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MethodS: Eleven males (age 19.4 0.9 years, stature 166.5 4.0 cm, weight 84.0 12.8 kg) participated in the repeated
measures study. Following a 3RM (93%) back squat protocol, and a randomly selected rest period (4, 8, 10 or 12 minutes),
a single trial of repeated sub-maximal hopping (2.5Hz frequency) was completed on a force plate, from which GCT,
RFD and Kleg were calculated. Measures of all variables following each rest period were compared against baseline
measures. Repeated measures ANOVAs were used to establish significant differences between trials, with a post-hoc
Bonferonni correction used to identify the origin of any differences. Additionally, in order to test for individual effects,
the optimum trials from the four rest periods for each participant showing a PAP response were compared to baseline
measures using a paired samples t-test.
Results: No significant changes in GCT, RFD and Kleg were found as a group (p > 0.05). However, when examined
on an individual basis, significant improvements were found in Kleg, GCT and RFD (p = 0.010; p = 0.025; p = 0.006
respectively). The average optimum rest period for the potentiation of all variables was approximately 8 2 minutes.
CONCLUSIONS: It can be concluded that a 3RM back squat, followed by approximately 8 2 minutes rest, can elicit a
potentiating effect on fast-SSC function; however, the response is highly individualised. Consequently, it is suggested
that heavy resistance exercise and fast-SSC activities can co-exist within a single training session, which could
potentially enable more efficient programming for the strength and conditioning coach.

A case study showing that match context

and opposition tactics may govern
match physical activity and recovery
responses in professional soccer players
Morgan D Williams,2 Ryland Morgans,1,2 David Adams,2 Richard Mullen2.
Swansea City Football Club, Liberty Stadium, Swansea,
University of Glamorgan, Division of Sport, Health and Exercise, Pontypridd
INTRODUCTION: It is suggested that physical fitness determines a soccer players capacity to perform. Throughout
the literature, time-motion derived performance markers have been associated with physical fitness and it is widely
accepted that players who cover greater match distances at high running speeds are regarded as better conditioned.

Movement competencies and physical fitness in talented

rugby union players under the age of 16 years
Joanna Parsonage, 1 Paul Rainer, 1 Rhodri Williams, 2 Morgan Williams 1.
University of Glamorgan, Division of Science and Sport, Pontypridd, Wales. 2 Welsh Rugby Union, Cardiff, Wales

INTRODUCTION: As a result of the professionalisation of rugby union, national governing bodies have funded
development programmes for youth players in order to prepare them to meet the increased physical demands of the
game. Each of the five regional academies in Wales takes responsibility for the long term development of talented
youth players, enabling them to become stronger, faster and more resistant to injury. At present, academies focus
largely on physical performance outcomes in order to quantify athletic development, but do not assess the efficiency by
which fundamental movements are executed. The assessment of movement competencies prior to entry into regional
academies may enhance long term player development, providing detailed information that can be used to guide
conditioning programs.
PURPOSE: The studys purpose was: 1) to collect physical performance data of under-16 players talent identified by
a region; and 2) to investigate how competent these players are at executing fundamental movement skills specific to
rugby conditioning.
MethodS: A total of 156 male youth rugby players (age 157years; stature 1767cm; and mass 7414kg) partook in
physical performance tests (40m sprint, countermovement jump (CMJ) and Yo-Yo-level 1) and six functional movement
tests (FMT); overhead squat (OH squat), Romanian deadlift (RDL), single leg squat (SL squat), double-leg to single-leg
landing (DL-SL landing), sprinting and CMJ. All FMT were filmed and qualitatively assessed using a four point scale (03), of which three was competent, two competent but with compensatory movements, one was deemed not competent
and zero was awarded if pain was reported.
Results: Sprint, CMJ and Yo-Yo (level 1) results were within the range reported for a similar rugby league cohort
(Gabbett et al, 2009). SL squat returned the poorest results; only 2% attained a competent score. 7% were competent for
the OH squat and 27% for the RDL. For the DL-SL, landing percentages varied between limbs with 31% competent on
the left limb and 40% on the right. In relation to the physical performance tests, only 16% were deemed competent for
the sprint task and 28% for CMJ.
CONCLUSION: The FMT tasks were based on movements that underpin rugby conditioning. Competency scores were
low across all tasks, suggesting that the sample of players in this region were not proficient and thus not prepared
to enter the training to compete stage. Therefore, basic conditioning programs aimed at obtaining mastery of these
movements may have potential benefits including effective training and injury prevention in the long-term.

Furthermore, it has been suggested that players modify their activities over a match in order to cruise around their
lactate threshold. Yet, other factors generally dismissed as secondary to fitness may dictate the time-motion data
obtained during competition.
PURPOSE: This case study provides a unique insight into a Championship League (CL) teams match performance, as
well as hormone and neuromuscular responses across a typical competitive week.
METHODs: Nine professional soccer players (age = 25.7 3.4yrs, stature = 1.70 0.06 m, and mass = 78.1 8.0 kg) were
monitored daily over a competitive week. Two matches were played and their context differed: match 1 was televised
and the opponents were positioned higher and aiming for promotion.
In addition, match 1 opponents played a high press style as opposed to defending deep a more typical approach in
the CL. Measures included: Amisco data, countermovement jump performed on a forceplate; salivary testosterone and
cortisol concentrations.
RESULTS: The high press style adopted by the opponents in match 1 limited ball possession (48%) compared to match
2 (62%). In addition, passes were lower in match 1(32 5) compared to match 2 (63 5). Physical performance was no
different; however, the opponents style of play in match 1 did force the three attackers to make a greater number of
sprints and high intensity runs covering further distances.
Additionally, post-match responses were different between matches. Only match 1 elicited changes from baseline
measures where: cortisol concentration was elevated immediately post-match and jump measures were suppressed up
to 48 hours post-match 1.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings show match context and opposition tactics can affect match activity, hormone and
neuromuscular responses. Such responses should be monitored and the context of the previous match considered when
planning training in preparation for the next match.



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The development of a comprehensive performance

testing protocol for competitive surfers
Jeremy M Sheppard,1,2 Sophia Nimphius,2 Greg G Haff,2 Tai T Tran,2 Tania Spiteri2 and Robert U Newton2.
Surfing Australia Hurley High Performance Centre, Casuarina Beach, New South Wales, Australia,
Centre for Sport and Exercise Science Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia

PURPOSE: Appropriate and valid testing protocols for evaluating the physical performances of wave-surfing athletes
are not well refined. The purpose of this project was to develop, refine, and evaluate a comprehensive testing protocol
for use with elite surfers, including measures of anthropometry, strength and power, and endurance.
MethodS: After consultation with athletes and sport-science colleagues, pilot testing was conducted on all potential
assessments to reflect their potential as being valid discriminators between higher and lower performing surfers,
allowing for the determination of a specific suite of tests including anthropometry (stature, mass, sum of seven site
skinfolds, lean mass index), strength and power (iso-metric mid-thigh pull, iso-inertial counter-movement jump squat,
15 m sprint paddle), and endurance (400 m paddling time-trial). Forty-four competitive junior surfers (16.21.3 years,
166.37.3 cm, 57.98.5 kg) participated in this study, involving a repeated measures analysis, and using an elite junior
group of 22 international competitors (EJG) to establish reliability of the measures. To reflect validity of the testing
measures, a comparison of performance results was then performed between the EJG and an age-matched competitive
junior group (CJG) of 22 nationally competitive surfers.
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Results: Percentage typical error (%TE) for primary variables gained from the assessments ranged from 1.13-2.99%,
with intra-class correlation coefficients (ICC) ranging from 0.957- 0.985. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA)
revealed that the EJG had lower skinfolds (p=0.005, d=1.01) and higher lean mass index (LMI, body-mass kg/sum of
7 skinfolds)(p=0.001, d=1.14) compared to the CJG, despite no difference in stature or mass (p>0.05). The EJG were
faster in 15m sprint paddling velocity (p<0.001, d=1.72) had higher iso-metric peak force (p=0.04, d=0.77), and superior
endurance paddling velocity (p=0.008, d=1.25).
CONCLUSION: The results of this study suggest that junior surfers who are competitively superior are leaner, have
higher lower-body strength, and superior paddling power and paddling endurance. The outcomes from this study
resulted in the creation of a national sport-science testing protocol for Surfing Australias Elite Athlete Program, with
measures that have low %TE in this population, and as a consequence, low Smallest Worthwhile Change statistics,
allowing for high sensitivity to change.
The discriminant validity established by this study provides a confident basis of rationale for determination of training
priorities in elite surfers. Finally, this outcome is integral to future research projects involving the physical capabilities
of competitive surfers, as standard, defensible testing protocols have not been clearly established previously.


Joseph I Esformes,1 Annicka Jones,1 Jeremy Moody,1 and Theodoros M. Bampouras2.
Cardiff Metropolitan University, Cardiff School of Sport, Cardiff,
University of Cumbria, Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Lancaster
PurposE: Postactivation potentiation (PAP) refers to increased muscular force generation due to previous muscular
activity. Various interventions have been examined as potential PAP stimuli, with squats being the more effective one
(eg, Esformes et al, 2010). However, different squat types could yield different PAP and subsequent performance benefits
due to different mechanical and physiological demands (Caterisano et al, 2002; Drinkwater et al, 2012). The aim of the
study was to compare the effect of two commonly used squats, the parallel (PS) and quarter (QS), on PAP.
MethodS: A total of 27 male, semi-professional rugby union players (meanSD: age, 182 yrs; body mass, 87.195.42 kg;
height, 180.75.14 cm) performed a countermovement jump (CMJ) followed by a ten- min rest and then three repetitions
of either a PS or QS, at their respective 3RM loads, in a randomised, counterbalanced order.
Following a five- min rest, the subjects performed another CMJ. CMJ jump height (JH), peak power (PP), impulse (I),
and flight time (FT) were assessed using a jump mat (Smartspeed, Brisbane, Australia).
Pairwise comparisons between pre- and post-squat values for all variables were conducted for each squat type to examine
whether PAP was induced. Additionally, delta values were compared to examine whether one squat type produced
better CMJ results.
Table 1. Countermovement jump performance before and after a quarter and parallel squat. Values are meanSD.

Quarter squat

Parallel squat






Height (cm)







Impulse (Ns)







Peak power (W)







Flight time (ms)







BL, baseline; POST-QS, post-quarter squat; POST-PS, post-parallel squat; D, delta values. *, significantly different to BL (P < 0.05); , significantly different to
quarter squat D values (P < 0.05).

Results: Both squats induced PAP for all of the variables examined (P < 0.05), whilst the PS produced better results
in all variables (P < 0.05; Table 1).
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to demonstrate that a) different squat types can induce PAP, and b) parallel
squats have a more beneficial acute effect on CMJ performance compared to quarter squats. It has previously been
shown that the gluteus muscle plays an important part in CMJ performance (Bobbert and van Soest, 2000).
The deeper depth of the parallel squat activates this muscle more (Caterisano et al, 2002), possibly explaining the
increased CMJ performance following parallel squats. However, as the movement demands of the two squats are also
different, future studies should examine the mechanical characteristics of these two squats and their effect on the CMJ
characteristics when PAP is induced.




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


E P Flanagan, D Hughes, J Harman, A Boyd, Edinburgh Rugby, Scottish Rugby Union, Murrayfield
PurposE: The aim of this project was to develop an understanding of the running and contact demands of professional,
northern hemisphere rugby.
MethodS: Time motion analysis was used to record performance of professional rugby union players during seven
Rabodirect Pro12 and Heineken Cup games. Twenty players wore Catapult Minimaxx global positioning system (GPS)
units for at least one half of one game. Players were grouped by position: front row, second row, back row, centre and
back three. The half-back positions were excluded from analysis due to low sample size. Descriptive statistics were
derived across both halves of the game. Descriptive statistics were representative of one half of rugby. There may be
fundamental differences between the first and second halves, but sufficient sample size was not present to conduct an
analysis of between-half characteristics.
The variables analysed for each positional group were total distance (m); percentage of distance at high running velocity
(>18.1km/h); maximal velocity (km/h); player load and total contacts. Player load is a within system measure of exertion
based on accumulation of all accelerations. The systems tackle detection feature was used to estimate the number of
contacts. This tackle detection algorithm uses inertial sensor signals to detect when a contact has occurred. Effect size
statistics were used to assess the magnitude of differences between positions. Hopkins effect size interpretation scale
was used in which effect sizes of >1.2 are considered large. For this study, only large effect sizes (>1.2) were considered
meaningful and report-worthy.
Results: All positions covered similar distances ranging from 2.7-3.0km per half. Back three players accumulated
the highest percentage of total distance at high velocity (10%) and achieved highest maximum velocities (28km/h).
Front row players accumulated the highest player loads (373) per half. No meaningful differences in total contacts were
observed between forward positions. All forward positions showed a greater number of contacts (>40) than all back
positions (<20) per half.
CONCLUSIONS: Large between-position differences are present in rugby union. Front row players accumulated
the highest player loads and forwards accumulated greater total number of contacts compared with backs. Backs
accumulated a greater percentage of running at high velocities and achieved higher maximum velocities. This data
provides a foundation level of understanding of the basic demands of professional, northern hemisphere rugby.

Time motion analysis of acceleration & deceleration

demands of 4v4 small-sided games played on different
pitch sizes in amateur soccer players
Thomas, K & Hodgson, C, Department of sport & exercise sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
PURPOSE: Small-sided games (SSGs) are a popular and effective means of training soccer-specific fitness
(Impellizzeri et al, 2006). A number of variables can be manipulated by the coach that could elicit different training
effects. The effect of changing pitch size on the movement demands and intensity of SSGs is not fully understood
(Hill-Haas et al, 2009; Kelly & Drust, 2009. The purpose of this study was to assess the effect of pitch size on the
movement demands of 4v4 SSGs in soccer, using a high-frequency (10 Hz) global positioning system (GPS)..
MethodS: Eight amateur players gave informed consent to participate. On successive weeks participants competed
in 4v4 (+ goalkeepers) small-sided soccer games on small (30 m x 20 m), medium (40 m x 30 m) and large (50 x 40 m)
pitch sizes. Each session consisted of 4 x 4 minute games with 3 minutes recovery. All outfield players were monitored
using a 10 Hz non-differential GPS (NdGPS, MinimaxX, Catapult Innovations, Australia). This enabled measurement
of total distance, high-intensity & sprint distance, and distance covered during acceleration and deceleration at low (>
1 m.s-1), moderate (2-3 m.s-1) and high (>3 m.s-1) speeds. Heart rate (HR) was recorded throughout. Data were analysed
using one-way repeated measures ANOVA
Results: The heart rate response was not different between pitch sizes (% HR maximum = 86 3%, 87 4% and 87 4%
for small, medium and large pitch sizes). Total distance covered was greater for both medium (1941 148 m) and large
pitches (1934 133 m) in comparison to small (1532 145 m). Total acceleration and deceleration distance was higher on
medium and large pitches versus small (total acceleration of 230 111 m, 356 76 m and 327 70 m and total deceleration
of 198 89 m, 314 67 m and 298 68 m for small, medium and large pitches respectively). There were no differences
between medium and large pitches in any of the movement variables except for distance covered at high-intensity,
which was greater on the large pitch (61 47 m vs 29 28 m).
CONCLUSION: The results of the study show the movement demands of 4v4+GKs SSGs played on small pitch sizes are
less than those elicited on medium and large pitch sizes. The distances covered during acceleration and deceleration
movements are comparable to soccer match play in professional players (Akenhead et al, unpublished data). The data
support the use of SSGs as a training tool in soccer.



ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

The effects of cluster set configuration on measures

of peak power, bar velocity, and rate-force-development
in jump squats: identification of optimal intra-set rest
Guy Pitchers1, Rhodri S Lloyd,1 Paul Read,1 Jon L Oliver2.
Faculty of Applied Sciences, University of Gloucestershire, 2School of Sport, Cardiff Metropolitan University
PURPOSE: In a traditional repetition scheme a significant amount of fatigue can occur in as little as five maximal
repetitions (Viitasalo & Komi, 1981). To minimise fatigue, research suggests that cluster training using short rest periods
within a set may provide enhanced metabolic recovery, improving the power generating capacities of an individual
(Haff et al 2003; Hansen et al 2011; Hardee et al 2012). Despite research supporting these findings, literature has yet to
identify the exact intra-set rest (ISR) period for optimal power and RFD production during jump squats. The aim of this
study was to examine the acute effects of 15s, 30s, and 45s ISR or no rest on power output, rate of force development
(RFD), and bar speed during the performance of loaded jump squats.
Method: Eight recreationally active male students (age 22 2yrs; mass 82 8kg; stature 1.81 0.05m) completed four
testing sessions, which were randomly ordered over a two-week period with a minimum of 48hr rest between each
session. Each session consisted of three sets of six repetitions of jump squats with an external load of 30% of their 1RM
back squat (114 19kg). Depending on the experimental order, each set of jump squats was completed with either no
rest, 15s, 30s, or 45s ISR every two repetitions, followed by three minutes rest upon completion of the set. Bar velocity
was determined via measurement of barbell displacement, while RFD and peak power were calculated from a groundfixed force plate.
Results: The inclusion of 15s, 30s and 45s ISR significantly improved the maintenance of peak power output
(p<0.05) and peak bar velocity (p<0.01) in comparison to no rest. Maintenance of RFD 30ms with 30s IRS (33 5%) was
significantly greater (p<0.05) than NR and 15s ISR (16 1%). RFD 60ms improved significantly when compared to no
rest (p< 0.05), following a 30s ISR (31 9%) and 45s ISR (32 15%) ISR periods in excess of 30s were deemed to have no
additional benefit to power performance, bar velocity, or RFD (p > 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Overall, this study agrees with previous literature that cluster training will improve the maintenance of
power output, peak velocity and RFD over multiple sets, whereas a traditional loading scheme appears to be detrimental
to power producing capacities. The results indicated that 30s ISR in a standard cluster set appears to be the optimal rest
period for power production in jump squats in recreationally active males.

Effect of heavy preloading on jumping performance in

professional rugby union players
D Tobin,1,2 E Delahunt2,3.
Leinster Rugby, Dublin, Ireland. 2School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland . 3Institute for Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
INTRODUCTION: Heavy resistance exercise results in both a fatigue and potentiation response, with the balance
between the two determining the subsequent motor performance. Complex training is suggested as a form of preparation
that takes advantage of the potentiation response to optimise gains in performance and maximise time efficiency by
combining heavy and dynamic exercises within the one programme. Evidence is contradictory relating to the presence
of potentiation in the acute phase following a heavy resistance exercise. The aim of the present study was to determine
whether or not a heavy preloading stimulus would result in enhanced dynamic muscle performance.
MethodS: Fourteen professional rugby union players performed a countermovement jump at baseline and at 1, 3
and 5 minutes after a heavy resistance stimulus (back squat: 3 x 3 repetition maximum). Peak power and jump height
measured by flight time were determined for all countermovement jumps on a portable force plate (HURlabs). Two
separate one-way repeated measures ANOVA were conducted to compare the peak power and jump height components
of the countermovement jump, at the four time points (baseline, 1, 3 and 5 minutes post heavy resistance stimulus).
When a significant main effect was observed for time, a bonferroni-adjusted pairwise comparison was undertaken. All
testing occurred during the in-season period after at least one full day off from any training or competition.
Results: Jump height at baseline was significantly greater than at all other time points (p<0.05). The associated effect
size was large with an observed power of 0.71. Peak power was also greater at baseline than at all other time points
(p<0.01). The associate effect size was large, with an observed power of 0.99. In terms of the individual response, 71% of
participants experienced a decrease in explosive performance as a consequence of the heavy resistance stimulus.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that explosive muscle performance is significantly decreased in the acute phase
(1-5 minutes) following a heavy resistance exercise. Complex training designed with a rest interval of 1-5 minutes is
likely to have a negative effect on explosive performance and hence is not recommended as a means of preparation for
this population.




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013

The acute effects of a plyometric stimulus on jump

performance in professional rugby players
D Tobin,1,2 E Delahunt2,3.
Leinster Rugby, Dublin, Ireland. 2School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland. 3Institute for Sport and Health, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
INTRODUCTION: Post-activation potentiation (PAP) is the elevation of motor performance to a higher level in
response to a conditioning stimulus. Whether or not dynamic performance improves following a stimulus is related to
the balance between potentiation and fatigue. A plyometric stimulus may produce potentiation with less fatigue than
that experienced following a heavy resistance stimulus, resulting in improved motor performance in the immediate
acute phase following the stimulus. The aim of the current study was to determine whether a plyometric stimulus
would enhance subsequent countermovement jump (CMJ) performance in professional rugby players.
MethodS: Twenty professional rugby players were recruited for the study. CMJ performance was measured on
a portable force plate (HURlabs) at baseline and at 1, 3 and 5 minutes after a plyometric stimulus. The plyometric
stimulus consisted of 40 plyometric jumps (two sets of 10 stiff-leg bilateral bunny hops, three sets of five bilateral
hurdle hops and five bilateral drop jumps from a height of 50cm). Two separate one-way repeated measures ANOVA
were conducted to compare jump height (measured by flight time) and peak force of a countermovement jump at
the four time points (p<0.05). When a significant main effect was observed for time, a bonferroni-adjusted pairwise
comparison was undertaken.
Results: Results of the bonferroni-adjusted pairwise comparisons indicated that jump height (p<0.01) and peak
force (p<0.01) pre-plyometric exercises were significantly lower than all other time points. The associate effect sizes
were large. Jump height improved for 80-90 % of subjects throughout the five-minute period after the plyometric
series. Peak force improved for 100% of subjects at a rest interval of one minute, with 95% and 90% demonstrating
enhancements at three- and five-minute rest intervals respectively.
CONCLUSION: The main findings of this study are that a series of plyometric exercises causes a significant acute
enhancement in CMJ height (p<0.01) and peak force (p<0.01) for the five-minute period after the exercise stimulus.
The plyometric series induced an improvement in CMJ height and peak force for the majority of the subjects. The
study confirms that a repeated series of plyometric jumps has a self-potentiating effect on CMJ performance possibly
eliminating the need for a heavy-dynamic complex training format in order to take advantage of PAP.


Ishan Rawlley-Singh,1 Anthony P Turner,1 Neill Potts,2 Eamonn P Flanagan3. 1Institute of Sport, PE and Health Science,
The University of Edinburgh. 2Scottish Rugby Union, Murrayfield, Edinburgh. 3Edinburgh Rugby, Murrayfield, Edinburgh
PURPOSE: To establish whether a bout of back squats and box jumps, conducted in separate training sessions, acutely
affects selected markers of neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) and also to compare any effects of the training modalities.
To the researchers knowledge, no study to date has investigated the effects of two different training modalities on
the markers of NMF in professional rugby players. This information may prove novel, as it would inform programme
design according to the desired stimulus and effect.
MethodS: In a repeated measure design, nine professional rugby union players performed both a bout of back squats
(3x5 repetitions at 80% of 1RM) and maximal box jumps (3x5 repetitions; mean SD box height: 84.6 3.8 cm) on two
different occasions. The testing protocols were conducted in the first and second week of a four-week pre-season training
block aimed at strength development, which consisted of a three-week loading cycle and one recovery week. The CMJs
were conducted on a force plate interfaced with a linear position transducer as a functional measure of NMF, immediately
pre- and five minutes post-intervention. Peak displacement, peak power and flight time: contraction times were selected
as the markers of NMF. A 2x2 repeated measures ANOVA tested main effects of time and intervention type.
Results: No significant main effects and interactions were observed (P=0.056-0.960).
CONCLUSION: It was concluded that a bout of back squats and box jumps conducted as part of a pre-season training
block of a professional rugby team did not acutely affect the selected markers of NMF. The lack of any statistically
significant change in the markers of NMF between two interventions implies that five minutes of recovery may be
sufficient to restore maximal CMJ performance following each intervention. To the researchers knowledge, this is the
first study investigating the effects of two different training modalities on the markers of NMF in professional rugby
players. The fact that the two protocols used in the current study did not significantly affect the markers of NMF may
indicate that backs squats and box jumps conducted at the intensities used in the current study may be conducted prior
to other forms of training without affecting subsequent performance. It therefore provides novel information in regards
to S&C programming.




ISSUE 28 / APRIL 2013


Michael Perry, 1,2, Andrew Sydall, 1 and Dr James Betts. 1
University of Bath, Department of Health, UK; 2 Newport Gwent Dragons, Newport, UK
PURPOSE: Ingestion of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) has been shown to improve performance over a wide range of
high intensity exercise protocols, including 2000m rowing. However, little research has focused on providing ecological
validity to its use prior to competition alongside exogenous fuel sources such as carbohydrate (CHO). Therefore, the
present study investigated the effects of ingesting NaHCO3 within a literature-supported pre-competition nutrition
plan on 2000m rowing ergometer performance.
Method: Six trained male rowers completed two main trials in a single-blind, pseudo-randomised design separated
by 17 d. To replicate practices of competition, participants ingested either NaHCO3 (0.3 or sodium chloride
(NaCl) placebo (0.2 in solution alongside a low glycaemic index CHO meal (1.5 CHO) 150 min before
exercise. Additional CHO (0.7 was provided in 10% solution, 60 min prior to exercise. Capillary blood samples
were collected on arrival, prior to warm-up and immediately after trials. Subjective measures of gastro-intestinal (GI)
discomfort were collected every 30 min until warm-up.
Results: Mean time to complete time trials was 404.2 11.5 s in NaHCO3 trials and 407.8 10.6 s in NaCl trials,
representing a 0.9% improvement in performance (P < .02). Blood lactate concentration was significantly higher post
exercise with NaHCO3 (P = .04). No symptoms of GI discomfort were recorded immediately prior to or during trials.
CONCLUSION: Results of the present study indicate that implementing NaHCO3 into a pre-competition nutrition plan,
alongside the literature-recommended high CHO meal, significantly improves 2000m rowing ergometer performance
and reduces symptoms of GI discomfort. The precise mechanism underpinning the performance effect is unclear, but
greater levels of La- post exercise with alkalosis and previous literature suggest it may be due to one of, or a combination
of the following reasons: the attenuation of acidosis, higher levels of glycolysis, the provision of metabolic fuel via the
lactate shuttle or greater K+ handling.


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