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All Alone We Go Faster, Together We Go Further: The Necessary Evolution of Professional and Elite Sporting Environment to Bridge the Gap Between Research and Practice

published: 27 January 2021
doi: 10.3389/fspor.2020.631147
Frontiers in Sports and Active Living | 1January 2021 | Volume 2 | Article 631147
Edited by:
Stéphane Bermon,
World Athletics, Health and Science
Department, Monaco
Reviewed by:
Paolo Emilio Adami,
University of Rome, Italy
Franck Brocherie
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Elite Sports and Performance
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Sports and Active Living
Received: 19 November 2020
Accepted: 14 December 2020
Published: 27 January 2021
Brocherie F and Beard A (2021) All
Alone We Go Faster, Together We Go
Further: The Necessary Evolution of
Professional and Elite Sporting
Environment to Bridge the Gap
Between Research and Practice.
Front. Sports Act. Living 2:631147.
doi: 10.3389/fspor.2020.631147
All Alone We Go Faster, Together We
Go Further: The Necessary Evolution
of Professional and Elite Sporting
Environment to Bridge the Gap
Between Research and Practice
Franck Brocherie 1
*and Adam Beard 2
1Laboratory Sport, Expertise and Performance (EA 7370), French Institute of Sport (INSEP), Paris, France, 2High
Performance Unit, Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball, Chicago, IL, United States
Keywords: athletes, biomedical–standards, evidence-based/evidence-informed practice, organization &
administration, decision making, humans
The landscape of the professional and elite sport has changed enormously in recent years, with
clubs/franchises and national federations performance support operating through specialized
background staff roles. Although not uniformly embraced across all sports and countries, the
expansion of such a model has led to the emergence of a managing position—generally termed
performance director (Buchheit and Carolan, 2019)—to organize and supervise all the sports
science and sports medicine servicing areas accessible to the head coach (and/or his technical staff )
and athletes. The scientific support staffing base includes full-time sport scientists, physiologists,
biomechanists, nutritionists, psychologists, and even more recently statisticians/data scientists,
with some additional part-time input from expert/academic consultants (e.g., neuroscientists).
Depending of the size and culture of the clubs/federations, a medical department covers the medical
care and therapy related to training and competition, as well as the involvement of professional
specialists for health management (Dijkstra et al., 2014). As an example, a National Football
League (NFL) staff generally comprised five departments and as large as 13 full-time employees
under the umbrella of the performance director (Figure 1A). All these departments operate in
synergy and also “independently” with appropriate autonomy at times, with the performance
director orchestrating the “front lines” in a holistic and comprehensive manner toward a common
performance goal.
The impetus to drive a performance support model is directly related to assisting the
coaching/front office staff on strategies to understand what winning looks like through analysis
of key performance indicators and metrics (Halson et al., 2019). The performance model employs
analysis technologies (e.g., global positioning system with embedded tri-axial accelerometers,
gyroscope and magnetometer, wearable sensors) and scientific advances (e.g., innovative training
or nutritional strategies) (Malone et al., 2019) to enhance player performance and maximize player
availability (Drew et al., 2017) while maintaining their health integrity through an integrated
health management system (Dijkstra et al., 2014). Despite the growing number of clubs/federations
employing this approach, there are still many who do not choose to see this model as the vehicle
to progress. Although this has been widely addressed (Bishop, 2008; Dijkstra et al., 2014; Buchheit,
2016, 2017; Coutts, 2016, 2017; McCall et al., 2016; Eisenmann, 2017; Nassis, 2017; Halperin, 2018;
Sandbakk, 2018, 2019; Fullagar et al., 2019; Halson et al., 2019), here, the present opinion proposes
to discuss past, actual, and new issues faced by the practitioners and researchers that are at the front
Brocherie and Beard Necessary Evolution of Sporting Environment
FIGURE 1 | The actual (A) and proposed (B) performance support model and its applied research process (C). AT, athletic trainer; CMO, chief medical officer; DB,
defensive back; DL, defensive line; EVP, executive vice president; LB, linebacker; OL, offensive line; P/T, physical therapist; QB, quarterback; RB, running back; TE,
tight end; WR, wide receiver.
line of professional and elite sport in order to reinforce the
necessary evolution of professional squads and federations to stay
at the cutting edge of performance optimization.
Modern professional and elite sport has gained an interest
in creating athlete-centered structures (e.g., Boston Celtics
Auerbach training center, Ultimate Fighting Championship’s
performance institute in Las Vegas, Aspire Academy in Doha,
Chicago Cubs’ Arizona spring training performance center, and
Wrigley field high-performance facility), which include state-
of-the-art sport science facilities and material for performance
optimization. Because the margin between winning and losing
is tiny (Davison et al., 2009), such environments take into
account all the factors surrounding athlete’s performance, health,
and well-being.
In order to provide effective evidence-based,
performance-oriented, and science-driven practices in sports
science and sports medicine support, a positive integration is
paramount, implying the organizational direction [i.e., owner,
chief executive officers (CEOs), head coach, front office] to
recognize and believe in the performance model and then favor
the interaction between each department. As such, and because
this has been reported to be a critical barrier (Fullagar et al.,
2019), particular attention must be carried on ensuring that there
is alignment between leadership/ownership and the performance
team. This is especially ringing true on the “hands-on” staff (such
as coaching, performance, and medical) that should view the
overall picture of the organization culture and its performance
model and develop coexistence and relationship based on
different expertise enabling all staff. A clear holistic process with
transparent roles and responsibilities facilitates decision-making
regarding the somewhat paradoxal performance optimization
and long-term health management (particularly relevant in
youth elite sport environments) (Dijkstra et al., 2014).
However, problems may occur if groups within the
club/federation are not open to new innovative ideas and
scientific methodologies based on evidence-based practices
to the optimization of player performance and health. Fixed
mindsets not only create problems for the integration of the
performance model (Nassis, 2017) but also may create silos
between the performance departments and coaches/front
Frontiers in Sports and Active Living | 2January 2021 | Volume 2 | Article 631147
Brocherie and Beard Necessary Evolution of Sporting Environment
office staff (Eisenmann, 2017; Drust, 2019). Clear goals and
expectations with regard to where current practices are at the
club/federation will help to plan the evolution of the “here and
now—winning today” and the “how do we maintain and sustain
winning—success”. If early adopter or innovator profiles would
be helpful for compliance and acceptance (Nassis, 2017), in all
cases, communication and time are keys to convince (unwilling)
head coaches and organizational direction. However, because
professional and elite sport setting is result-driven, time is lacking
to install a confident working environment, where the worst
scenario (i.e., losing consecutive matches) inevitably conducts to
head coach eviction, thereby affecting the performance process
(Drust, 2019).
In order to convince reluctant groups within the
club/federation of the benefits from a sports science and
sports medicine support model, the recruited performance
director must have multiple strings to his/her bow. Based on our
own experience, having a mix of practical (playing experience
and/or backroom staff) and theoretical knowledge to ensure a
clear understanding of the scientific prerequisite is a helpful asset
to assist leaders such as the head coach (Bishop, 2008) by using
similar language in a mutually respectful manner. In particular,
having a scientific background at the postgraduate level (i.e.,
ideally having a postgraduate MSc or PhD qualification) would
allow the identification (including discrediting poor/false
research or pseudoscientific approaches) and adoption of
effective evidence-based practices (e.g., targeting few identified
areas having a meaningful impact on athletes’ performance)
that would directly and rapidly impact the decision-making
process surrounding sport performance (Buchheit, 2016; Coutts,
2017; Nassis, 2017). Furthermore, such effective and easy to use
innovative research-informed, practitioner-led interventions
are more likely adopted than disruptive ones (Nassis, 2017)
and would open doors for more cooperation. Besides agility
and adaptability, additional leadership and interpersonal and
communication skills would reinforce the communication needs
(Eisenmann, 2017) and drive a centralized operating system that
promotes the performance model and club/federation culture.
As such, the performance director is the “gatekeeper” of the
sports science and sports medicine services, ensuring optimal
cooperation while avoiding confusion and pitfalls, notably
through open paths of communication between staff.
The rapid technological development (and its accompanying
regulation adjustments) approved by most leading global
sporting organizations, in addition to the increasing demand
placed on the athletes, may highlight the important role of
sports science and sports medicine staff in modern sport
success (or failure). Alongside management leadership and
acculturation (Jones et al., 2009), improving athletes’ compliance
for monitoring and evidence-based methodologies provides
the opportunity to reinforce the use of specific devices and
supporting strategies. For that, the shared decision-making
process (i.e., including three key steps: choice, option, and
decision) proposed in sports medicine (Dijkstra et al., 2017;
Elwyn et al., 2017) may reduce conflict and participate as
education mean for effective and succesful support.
The paradox in professional and elite sport setting is the
different timelines requested to ensure key decisions (fast-
working process) while promoting the best evidence-based
practices (slow-working process) (Coutts, 2016, 2017; McCall
et al., 2016). In this view, and because the director of performance
may represent the cornerstone of the performance model and
would have time for translational concept only, embedding
a research and development (R&D) department (under the
umbrella of performance director, Figure 1B) would be useful to
provide scientific expertise in assessing long-term performance
solutions and drive new ideas to improve the decision-making
process for day-to-day servicing areas (Coutts, 2016, 2017;
McCall et al., 2016; Eisenmann, 2017).
In fact, although developing research partnerships and
innovation hubs (McCall et al., 2016) remains valid (see
section Reinforcing the Connection), bringing researchers and
their environment within the same organization is probably
the most relevant way to bridge the gap between the “field
and the lab” via the development of the triad “athlete–coach–
researcher” (Sandbakk, 2018, 2019; Fullagar et al., 2019). Such
club/franchise- (e.g., FC Barcelona in soccer, Chicago Cubs in
baseball) or organization-embedded research (e.g., Australian,
English, French, Norwegian institutes of sport) is generally
considered to have greater impact on professional practice
(Coutts, 2017). Relocating laboratories and researchers close
to the field allows to better understand the constraints that
may limit evidence-based practice translation (Bishop, 2008)
to identify and conduct relevant ecologically valid applied
researches (Reade et al., 2008a,b) that align with the “real-
world” needs and perspectives (Jones et al., 2019). Improving
the servicing resource with an R&D department would open
doors for higher sports science and sports medicine research
into applied practice (Fullagar et al., 2019) that may benefit
higher education within (Bartlett and Drust, 2020) and outside
professional and elite sport.
Refining the performance model with the addition of an
R&D department also allows to optimize collaboration with
academics (McCall et al., 2016) or other infrastructures from
the sport industry (e.g., R&D departments issued from the
same or another sport/competition, equipment manufacturers).
First, because research questions are established and prioritized
by the R&D department (Figures 1B,C), thereby avoiding
the common belief from many academics (much more than
we think; part of those who believe that having practiced
and/or coached at low levels equals head coaches’ specific
knowledge acquired over years) that head coaches are not
sufficiently “brained” to share ideas. One may assume that some
brilliant research findings emanated from innovation intuitively
developed on the field by some head coaches. As such, adopting
integrated knowledge translation models (Boland et al., 2020)
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Brocherie and Beard Necessary Evolution of Sporting Environment
involving practitioners in a research agenda would benefit end
users through common concepts and vocabulary, the ability
to link, exchange, and co-produce knowledge (participatory
research, athlete engagement or involvement, and community-
based research).
In professional and elite sport settings, proper controlled data
collection allows a continuum between servicing and research
(Halson et al., 2019) through implementation of intervention
to verify a hypothesis (e.g., comparing two training methods).
Instead of reinventing the wheel, the research iterative and
bidirectional model proposed by Bishop (2008) remain topical.
Profiling and cross-sectional studies easily implementable in
“real-world” settings would provide values to reviews and
meta-analyses to verify the problem identified (Figure 1C).
Then, methodological and correlational studies are helpful
to set the next steps. In addition, conducting qualitative
research such as case study of one or few (elite) athletes (e.g.,
Brechbuhl et al., 2018; Solli et al., 2020) is one of the pathways
bridging the gap between research and practice (Halperin,
2018). This may be an interesting “buy-in” strategy to create a
working relationship between practitioners and head coaches
(Halperin, 2018), which may result in mutual interests and
more demanding research such as laboratory-based experiments
(Fullagar et al., 2019). Bearing in mind that poor research
(or associated approaches) would discredit all the efforts to
support sports science and sports medicine, we believe that
even difficult to implement parallel-group (e.g., Beard et al.,
2019a,b) or crossover design (e.g., Sandbakk et al., 2015) with
appropriate randomization remains possible and provides an
opportunity to increase the quality of ecological research in the
“real world” (Coutts, 2017; Fullagar et al., 2019). Replication
studies must be considered at this stage if basic research has
been already conducted. Finally, to truly have an impact on
“real-world” settings, effectiveness trials, through replication
and efficacy studies in ecological conditions, are imperative to
improve quality decision in practice. Despite the reluctance
of most journals for a “lack of novelty” (McLoughlin and
Drummond, 2017; Nature, 2020), replicating experimental
results with or without positive findings would be helpful for
researchers and practitioners to decide whether a novel finding
is real and large enough to have a practical impact. In this
view, the recent coopetition (i.e., simultaneous cooperation and
competition) proposal to merge performance data (Ramirez-
Lopez et al., 2020) may also provide an alternative to improve
sample size and ecological validity of applied research. Some
organizations [e.g., FC Barçelona, Sacramento Kings, and Los
Angeles Dodgers joint research on modeling players’ decision
papers/2019-research-paper-finalists-posters/) presented at the
MIT Sloan Sports Analytics international conference] already
take the plunge. Connecting with academics also means to be
proactive in research grant application. As such, few initiatives
get up. For example, last year, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and
“Polytechnique” sponsored the “Sport analytics challenge
( that allowed
students to submit contributions or projects related to Opta
data analysis using Python or R programming language aiming
to increase PSG sporting performance. The winner received
a 3-year thesis or postdoctoral fellowship (worth e100,000
including tax). Other research opportunities also arose from
competition winning bid.
Similarly, major competitions such as the Olympic games
often boost scientific support and research initiatives (Skibba
et al., 2016), Paris 2024 being the last example with a
call for elite sport-related scientific project from the French
national agency for research. The flip side of the coin is
that it fuels the lust of researchers who are out of sport
context, increasing the risk of a setback from the head
coaches for the interest of sports science and sports medicine.
To avoid this and promote its catalyst effect, the funding
stakeholders must carefully control the alignment of research
project with its practical application in professional and elite
sport setting.
The necessary evolution of professional and elite sport
encompasses embracing better communication based on
trust and mutual respect with head coach and management
board/team, embedding an R&D department to relocate
laboratories and researchers close to the field and reinforce their
connection with the “real world” to promote best evidence-based,
performance-oriented, and science-driven practices. In order to
bridge the gap between research and practice and improve its
impact on professional and elite sport setting, key considerations
are summarized as follows:
To improve collaboration with coaches/managers
and athletes through
Creation of a pleasant work environment,
Proper communication (e.g., avoiding silos,
eliminating segregation),
Rapid information dissemination that is meaningful for the
different groups,
Staff development (e.g., workshop, newsletter),
Favor interaction and critical thinking inside and outside
the box.
To establish trust and building relationships with academics or
other sports industry’s infrastructures through
Integration of laboratory-based materials and researchers
within the organization,
Development of “win–win” solutions (i.e., interesting and
useful) promoting aligned inter- or multi-disciplinary
research approach,
Improving education material and conferences involving
scholars, scientists, practitioners, and/or coaches,
To improve quality decision in practice through
Promotion of the best available evidence at the right time
for the right athlete,
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Brocherie and Beard Necessary Evolution of Sporting Environment
Implementation of the “integration paradigm” whereby
research guides practice, but practice also guides research,
Guaranteeing stability, consistency of sports science
and medicine support. This may require infrastructure’s
refinement to maintain effective communication.
The authors listed have made substantial, direct and intellectual
contribution to the work and approved it for publication.
The Laboratory Sport, Expertise and Performance (EA 7370) is
a partner of the French-speaking network ReFORM, recognized
as a Research Centre for the Prevention of Injury and Illness and
the Protection of Athletes by the Olympic Committee (IOC). As
a member of the IOC Medical Research Network, ReFORM has
received funding from the IOC to establish long-term research
programs on the prevention of injuries and illnesses in sport for
the protection of athlete health.
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Conflict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a
potential conflict of interest.
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Frontiers in Sports and Active Living | 6January 2021 | Volume 2 | Article 631147
... Many scientists of excellent scientific/academic background (i.e., Dupont et al., 2005;Bangsbo et al., 2008in football, Mountjoy et al., 2016Mujika et al., 2019in swimming, Mujika et al., 2019in athletics, Jones et al., 2021in distance running, and Hebert-Losier et al., 2017Solli et al., 2017 in Nordic skiing, to name only a fewwe apologize to many other colleagues who deserve to be on this list) are indeed servicing and advising elite athletes or teams while in parallel producing outstanding scientific research that is sometimes relevant for coaches. Until recently, the translation of "sport sciences" research to practice was often poor (Bishop, 2008), and interdependence between the practical and scientific impacts of "sport sciences" research has frequently been advocated (Coutts, 2016;Brocherie and Beard, 2020). Elite sports organizations require embedded, fast-moving, serviceproviding applied research scientists as well as slow-thinking researchers (Sandbakk, 2018), who, working together, will carry on producing sport-specific research. ...
... The quality of servicing scientists at the club, federation, or sport institute levels may be a factor of influence, but the vast majority of these sports publications seem to have come from academic (i.e., employed by universities or research organizations) researchers. With the evolution of the performance support model within the professional and elite sporting environment, deemed necessary to integrate an applied research process to bridge the gap between scientists and practitioners (Brocherie and Beard, 2020), the scientific publication landscape may change in the future, even for less attractive sports. ...
... While our findings are in line with previous results (Brito et al., 2018), the consequences and implications of the scientific dominance of football remain unclear. It is tempting to relate such scientific proliferation to the already well-organized performance support services within professional and elite football (Brocherie and Beard, 2020). However, to our knowledge, there has been no comprehensive analysis of the number of scientists working in professional football, even if it is obvious that this segment has grown considerably in the last decade, especially in the clubs of the five major football leagues in Europe (i.e., England, Spain, Germany, Italy, and France). ...
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Introduction - The body of scientific literature on sports and exercise continues to expand. The summer and winter Olympic games will be held over a 7-month period in 2021–2022. Objectives - We took this rare opportunity to quantify and analyse the main bibliometric parameters (i.e., the number of articles and citations) across all Olympic sports to weigh and compare their importance and to assess the structure of the “sport sciences” field. The present review aims to perform a bibliometric analysis of Olympic sports research. Methods - We searched 116 sport/exercise journals on PubMed for the 40 summer and 10 winter Olympic sports. A total of 34,038 articles were filtered for a final selection of 25,003 articles (23,334 articles on summer sports and 1,669 on winter sports) and a total of 599,820 citations. Results and Discussion - Nine sports (football (soccer), cycling, athletics, swimming, distance & marathon running, basketball, baseball, tennis, and rowing) were involved in 69% of the articles and 75% of the citations. Football was the most cited sport, with 19.7% and 26.3% of the total number of articles and citations, respectively. All sports yielded some scientific output, but 11 sports (biathlon, mountain biking, archery, diving, trampoline, skateboarding, skeleton, modern pentathlon, luge, bobsleigh, and curling) accumulated a total of fewer than 50 publications. While ice hockey is the most prominently represented winter sport in the scientific literature, winter sports overall have produced minor scientific output. Further analyses show a large scientific literature on team sports, particularly American professional sports (i.e., baseball, basketball, and ice hockey) and the importance of inclusion in the Olympic programme to increasing scientific interest in “recent” sports (i.e., triathlon and rugby sevens). We also found local/cultural influence on the occurrence of a sport in a particular “sport sciences” journal. Finally, the relative distribution of six main research topics (i.e., physiology, performance, training and testing, injuries and medicine, biomechanics, and psychology) was large across sports and reflected the specific performance factors of each sport.
... This point is demonstrated well by the development of the strength and conditioning field several decades ago and the proliferation of jobs across the sport industry. As it may be observed in professional and Olympic-level sport, it is also possible for intercollegiate coaches to benefit from further specialist support, such as the assistance of a sport scientist-a formally trained individual who specializes in applying the scientific method to sport in order to enhance player performance, maximize player availability, and maintain player health (4,8). ...
... Previously limited to national sporting organizations, these positions have been adapted from common use for application in the collegiate sector (15,16). HPDs are charged with overseeing various sport support functions and tasked to integrate and align various disciplines (4). As more jobs in sport support roles become established in the intercollegiate sector, HPDs can help ensure that silos are avoided through establishing data streams and communication lines (4). ...
... HPDs are charged with overseeing various sport support functions and tasked to integrate and align various disciplines (4). As more jobs in sport support roles become established in the intercollegiate sector, HPDs can help ensure that silos are avoided through establishing data streams and communication lines (4). Though a HPD differs in responsibilities from a traditional SS position, the training and skills of a sport scientist may serve as a strong base to prepare them for success in a HPD role. ...
... This type of equipment would only be available in a laboratory setting in view of the financial investment required, considering that commercial force plates are, by themselves, expensive instruments (about USD 20,000 in the United States) [25]. Fortunately, some Gymnastics clubs or coaches have established networks with Biomechanics laboratories, which allows them to implement more advanced analyses and obtain information to aid the training process, consisting of the necessary evolution of the professional and elite sporting environment to bridge the gap between research and practice [42]. ...
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The biomechanical analysis of Acrobatic Gymnastics elements has not been extensively explored in scientific research to date. Due to the increased challenge of implementing experimental protocols and collecting data from multiple individuals, it is required to develop strategies that allow a safe, valid and reproducible methodology. This work aims to collect information and systematically analyze the biomechanical approach in Acrobatic Gymnastics to date. A search was conducted in the Web of Science, Scopus, EBSCO, PubMed and ISBS databases. After the selection and quality-control phases, fourteen documents were included. The results revealed that the biomechanical research in Acrobatics has been focused on balance evaluation, in which the force plate and the center of pressure are the most used instrument and variable, respectively. Research has been focused on kinetics evaluation. Kinematics analysis of pair/group elements would provide scientific answers to unresolved problems, considering that Gymnastics provides almost limitless possibilities to study human motion. Researchers should focus on the type of element, difficulty degree, main characteristics, relationship between the instrument and floor surface specificity and safety conditions. We encourage gymnastics clubs and coaches to establish networks with biomechanics laboratories, allowing to bridge the gap between research and practice.
... Efficiency of analysis, for a faster dissemination of knowledge, has been identified as a key consideration for sport practitioners working in high-performance environments [59][60][61]. This means that while the results of this study suggest that several imputation models may be interchanged for the current standard of group mean substitution (daily team mean substitution) and still produce results that are not statistically different and statistically equivalent to true RPE scores, some models may be more applicable than others in the applied sport environment. ...
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Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) is used to calculate athlete load. Incomplete load data, due to missing athlete-reported RPE, can increase injury risk. The current standard for missing RPE imputation is daily team mean substitution. However, RPE reflects an individual's effort; group mean substitution may be suboptimal. This investigation assessed an ideal method for imputing RPE. A total of 987 datasets were collected from women's rugby sevens competitions. Daily team mean substitution, k-nearest neighbours, random forest, support vector machine, neural network, linear, stepwise, lasso, ridge, and elastic net regression models were assessed at different missing-ness levels. Statistical equivalence of true and imputed scores by model were evaluated. An ANOVA of accuracy by model and missingness was completed. While all models were equivalent to the true RPE, differences by model existed. Daily team mean substitution was the poorest performing model, and random forest, the best. Accuracy was low in all models, affirming RPE as mul-tifaceted and requiring quantification of potentially overlapping factors. While group mean substitution is discouraged, practitioners are recommended to scrutinize any imputation method relating to athlete load.
... In the 21st century, technological progress in medicine and physiotherapy, as well as the holistic approach to patients and athletes, have created new opportunities for rehabilitation and training [1,2]. Electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) treatments, in addition to their wide application in rehabilitation, are more and more often used in training sessions to diversify strength exercises or as an alternative for people who want to maintain physical fitness but do not have time or opportunities for standard training in the gym [3][4][5][6][7]. ...
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A rehabilitative program for patients who lose strength and muscle mass along with the ability to perform intensive exercises is lacking. We developed a 3-week training program based on neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) using a RSQ1 device (modulated current resulting from the overlapping of two-component currents) for RSQ1 electrostimulation to improve strength parameters of the quadricep femoris muscles and compare its effectiveness to isometric training. Nineteen university students were randomly divided into the NMES group (10 sessions) and the control group who trained. We measured the circumference of the thigh, as well as peak torques of the flexor and extensor muscles before and after the start and after the end of the training program. Both tested training programs gave similar results. Differences between measured parameters were not significant except for differences in the peak torques of the knee flexors (9.9% for left limb; p = 0.2135 vs. 7.8% for rift limb; p = 0.2135) and the circumference of the left thigh—2% for both (left p = 0.5839 and right p = 0.1088). Comparable results of the tested training programs suggest that NMES is a good alternative for people who cannot perform exercises, but want to maintain or improve their physical fitness.
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Sport Science is considered the study and application of scientific principles and techniques to improve sporting performance. Thus, a key role of the Sport Scientist is to translate complex information into usable and contextual performance solutions for a range of different stakeholders. These stakeholders consist of athletes, coaches, recruiting, performance support, medical, administration and operations staff and have varying interests and priorities meaning the information required can be vastly different. In addition to these different needs, sport is fast moving, diverse and complex meaning there are a number of potential translational barriers. Sport Science training programs entail the development of technical knowledge and practical skills; however, little is considered in view of interpersonal craft skill development and knowledge translation (KT). Given the reported barriers and challenges to effective KT in sport, this lack of specific training may render KT as ineffective and suboptimal. Accordingly, in this article we propose a framework and work-based training model with the aim of developing the KT process and performance delivery of Sport Scientists operating in professional sport. Firstly, we define the current perspectives and challenges for Sport Scientists in the context of KT, before proposing a framework that focusses on Evidence-Based-Practice, Philosophy, Recipients and Facilitation, in which Sport Scientists can use to develop their interpersonal craft and subsequent KT approach. We finish by presenting a model of sport science practitioner training; the professional sport-doctoral training program, that combined with the framework, can be effective in developing Sport Scientists.
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Scientific innovation can be crucial for maximising athletes’ health and performance, which has resulted in a growing interest in sports science and medicine (SSM). Innovation through research helps develop training models, medical treatments and recovery methods but the practical relevance of some fundamental studies is often hindered by their poor ecological validity. Tightly controlled conditions can create an artificial sample of athletes and circumstances which are not truly representative of daily practice, allowing for the gap between research and practice to persist. Applied research aims to bridge that gap by developing ecologically valid evidence and can be further enhanced by embedding ‘off-field’ academic brains into sporting organisations. However, the quality of research outputs can be limited by small sample sizes and restricted access to resources and specialised instrumentation. Merging performance data from different teams has been suggested as a solution; however, practitioners from professional organisations may be reluctant to share such data and resources between them. In this editorial, we aim to (1) alert the sports medicine/science community to the concept of coopetition and its relevance to our field and (2) propose a conceptual framework for its use to enhance the methods and quality of applied research and drive innovation.
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Purpose: To investigate the factors associated with underperformance and the subsequent changes in training characteristics and supportive actions when returning to the world's best cross-country skier. Methods: The participant is the most decorated winter Olympian, with 8 Olympic gold medals, 18 World Championship titles, and 114 World Cup victories. Training data were categorized by training form (endurance, strength, and speed); intensity (low, moderate, and high); and mode (running, cycling, and skiing/roller skiing). In addition, test data were retrospectively analyzed, and interviews were performed with the participant and her support team. Results: After the competitive season, the participant had 8 weeks without systematic training and an evaluation process aiming to detect the factors contributing to underperformance. Here physiological, technical, and psychological challenges were detected. As a consequence, the participant included less high-intensity training (1.2 vs 2.1 sessions/wk, P = .011); more moderate-intensity training (0.9 vs 0.4 sessions/wk, P = .016); and more low-intensity training (6.9 vs 5.9 sessions/wk, P = .036) during the general preparation phase but with similar total endurance training load as previous season. In addition, more strength training (1.6 vs 1.1 h/wk, P = .036) and new ski-specific strength exercises were included. Finally, the athlete's autonomy when planning and adjusting training was increased, nontraining stressors were reduced, more frequent testing was included, systematic mental training was initiated, her nutritional strategy was adjusted, and her asthma treatment was optimized. Conclusions: Overall, the current case study could be used as a framework for the holistic approach to treating an overtraining condition and for generation of new hypothesis in this exiting area.
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Background Integrated knowledge translation (IKT) is a model of research co-production, whereby researchers partner with knowledge users throughout the research process and who can use the research recommendations in practice or policy. IKT approaches are used to improve the relevance and impact of research. As an emerging field, however, the evidence underpinning IKT is in active development. The Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network represents a collaborative interdisciplinary team that aims to advance the state of IKT science. Methods In 2017, the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network issued a call to its members for concept papers to further define IKT, outline an IKT research agenda, and inform the Integrated Knowledge Translation Research Network’s special meeting entitled, Integrated Knowledge Translation State of the Science Colloquium, in Ottawa, Canada (2018). At the colloquium, authors presented concept papers and discussed knowledge-gaps for a research agenda and implications for advancing the IKT field. We took detailed field notes, audio-recorded the meeting and analysed the data using qualitative content analysis. Results Twenty-four participants attended the meeting, including researchers ( n = 11), trainees ( n = 6) and knowledge users ( n = 7). Seven overarching categories emerged from these proceedings – IKT theory, IKT methods, IKT process, promoting partnership, definitions and distinctions of key IKT terms, capacity-building, and role of funders. Within these categories, priorities identified for future IKT research included: (1) improving clarity about research co-production/IKT theories and frameworks; (2) describing the process for engaging knowledge users; and (3) identifying research co-production/IKT outcomes and methods for evaluation. Conclusion The Integrated Knowledge Translation State of the Science Colloquium initiated a research agenda to advance IKT science and practice. Next steps will focus on building a theoretical and evidence base for IKT.
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Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the collated integration of practitioner expertise, athlete values and research evidence aimed to optimise the decision-making process surrounding sport performance. Despite the academic interest afforded to sport science research, our knowledge of how this research is applied in elite sport settings is limited. This current opinion examines the existing evidence of the translation of sport science research into the field, with a tailored focus on the current perceptions of practitioners, researchers and coaches. Recent studies show that practitioners and researchers report they ascertain sport science knowledge differently, with coaches preferring personal interactions compared with coaching courses or scientific journals. The limited peer-reviewed research shows that coaches perceive their knowledge is greater in fields such as tactical/technical areas, rather than physical fitness or general conditioning. This likely explains coaches’ greater perceived value in research dedicated to technical and tactical expertise, as well as mental training and skill acquisition. Practitioners place a large emphasis on the need for research in physical fitness areas, which is likely due to their occupational focus. There are many perceived barriers of sport science research application, including funding, time, coach/player/staff ‘buy in’ and research questions that may not apply to the setting. We contend that researchers and practitioners may benefit in producing research, ascertaining knowledge and disseminating findings in alternative methods that better align with coaches’ needs. In addition, educational strategies that focus on real-world context and promote social interaction between coaches, practitioners, organisational personnel and researchers would likely benefit all stakeholders.
ABSTRACT “Bridging the gap” and “science into practice” have long been themes in high-performance sports training, conditioning, and monitoring. Recently, parallel developments in sports science and translational science in the United States have perhaps set the stage for a new era to solve old problems. This article will discuss the trends in sports science in the United States, provide an overview of translational science and knowledge management, summarize and align existing translational science research models, address problems and potential solutions in the translational sports science framework, and provide examples of research that have translated sports science research into practice. The objectives of this article are to stimulate collaborations between academics and practitioners and to provide solutions for harmonizing integrated sports performance models.
This study investigated the effects of upper-body repeated-sprint training in hypoxia vs. in normoxia on world-level male rugby union players’ repeated-sprint ability (RSA) during an international competition period. Thirty-six players belonging to an international rugby union male national team performed over a 2-week period four sessions of double poling repeated-sprints (consisting of 3 × eight 10-s sprints with 20-s passive recovery) either in normobaric hypoxia (RSH, simulated altitude 3000 m, n = 18) or in normoxia (RSN, 300 m; n = 18). At pre- and post-training intervention, RSA was evaluated using a double-poling repeated-sprint test (6 × 10-s maximal sprint with 20-s passive recovery) performed in normoxia. Significant interaction effects (P < 0.05) between condition and time were found for RSA-related parameters. Compared to Pre-, peak power significantly improved at post- in RSH (423 ± 52 vs. 465 ± 69 W, P = 0.002, η²=0.12) but not in RSN (395 ± 65 vs. 397 ± 57 W). Averaged mean power was also significantly enhanced from pre- to post-intervention in RSH (351 ± 41 vs. 388 ± 53 W, P < 0.001, η²=0.15), while it remained unchanged in RSN (327 ± 49 vs. 327 ± 43 W). No significant change in sprint decrement (P = 0.151, η² = 0.02) was observed in RSH (−17 ± 2% vs. −16 ± 3%) nor RSN (−17 ± 2% vs. −18 ± 4%). This study showed that only four upper-body RSH sessions were beneficial in enhancing repeated power production in international rugby union players. Although the improvement from RSA to game behaviour remains unclear, this finding appears of practical relevance since only a short preparation window is available prior to international games.
Purpose:: To investigate the effects of repeated-sprint training in hypoxia vs. in normoxia on World-level male Rugby Union players' repeated-sprint ability (RSA) during an international competition period. Methods:: Nineteen players belonging to an international Rugby Union Senior male national team performed four sessions of cycling repeated-sprints (consisting of 3 × eight 10-s sprints with 20-s passive recovery) either in normobaric hypoxia (RSH, 3000 m, n=10) or in normoxia (RSN, 300 m; n=9) over a 2-wk period. At Pre- and Post-training intervention, RSA was evaluated using a cycling repeated-sprint test (6 x 10-s maximal sprint and 20-s passive recovery) performed in normoxia. Results:: Significant interaction effects (all P<0.05, η2>0.37) between condition and time were found for RSA-related parameters. Compared to Pre-, maximal power significantly improved at Post- in RSH (12.84 ± 0.83 vs. 13.63 ± 1.03, P<0.01, η2=0.15) but not in RSN (13.17 ± 0.89 vs. 13.00 ± 1.01, P=0.45, , η2=0.01). Mean power was also significantly enhanced from Pre- to Post-intervention in RSH (11.15 ± 0.58 vs. 11.86 ± 0.63, P<0.001, η2=0.26), while it remained unchanged in RSN (11.54 ± 0.61 vs. 11.75 ± 0.65, P=0.23, η2=0.03). Conclusion:: As little as four dedicated specific RSH sessions were beneficial to enhance repeated power production in World-level Rugby Union players. Although the improvement from RSA to game behaviour remains unclear, this finding appears of practical relevance since only a short preparation window is available prior to international Rugby Union games.