Editor's Musings: A Person is a Person...
And just like that, it’s June! Winter sports have been in full swing around the country for some time, and we are edging closer to the Rio Olympics (5-21 Aug) and Paralympics (7-18 Sep). One of the big stories on everyone’s lips is that of major underdogs, Leicester City Football Club winning the English Premier League. It has been reported that some sport scientists have been working hard in the background to contribute to their success. Cryochambers, beetroot juice, and such things have all been suggested as being influential along their journey. Though, I’d recommend not focussing on the marginal gains factors, but on the initiative that went into their successful season.
Staying in the vein of English football, Rio Ferdinand reckons that players are no longer robust, but have been made soft by modern science-based practices. This conflicts with the Leicester situation where monitoring and recovery strategies helped them feature as the team with the fewest injuries and using the fewest players through the season (see graph in earlier link). Science and technology are important tools for improving performance, and it would be madness to disregard them. However, before the evil robot overlords take-over, let us not forget the human element in performance. Ideally, we should be looking to combine these factors. We have in the past focussed on objective measures such as heart rate and its various permutations, distances, and speeds to try understand performance. More recently, there is much interest in the subjective measures, specifically sRPE. Even more recently, Gabbet & Co. have used GPS distance, an objective variable, to inform decision-making around the acute:chronic workload relationship. However, I’d be interested to see how the acute:chronic workload relationship is affected when using sRPE x duration to establish the workloads and monitor athletes. In my limited experience with using sRPE and the A:C ratio, there can be difficulty in trying to prescribe training that elicits the sRPE that I’m aiming for in the specific session. Sometimes undercooking, yet sometimes overcooking. We live and we learn.
For those of you who are considering the various methods of monitoring your athletes, Saw et al. (2015) systematically reviewed the literature on subjective measures in comparison to objective measures in the context of their responses to acute and chronic training loads. It so happens that the subjective measures were more sensitive and consistent than the objective measures. Other than sRPE, options to consider for monitoring training and fatigue include recovery scales, POMS, and DALDA. There will be other options, but this wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. Sadly, “cash is king” and subjective measures would be more cost effective and probably more time efficient than most objective measures, which is great for sport scientists who work with amateur teams or schools where the budget can get a bit restrictive. To sum it all up, sport scientists should try not to get carried away with the science aspect of athletic performance and remember that athletes are people too.
The contributions for this issue of SPORT SCIENCE COLLECTIVE seemed to have a similar thread running through them. Or maybe I just willed it into being. Nonetheless, Dr Jason Tee separates us from the robots with his piece about the workload humans can undertake before breaking down, Dr Wilbur Kraak deals with the very human possibility of burnout amongst amateur coaches, and David Leith alludes to the benefits of trail running for body and mind. Simone do Cormo gets down to the building blocks of life, and our guest contributor, Dr Michele van Rooyen, brings the human element to video analysis. As always, I am extremely grateful for the efforts of all the contributors who give up their time to make SPORT SCIENCE COLLECTIVE possible
Lastly, a quick mention goes to Simone do Cormo who graduated with a 1st Class pass for her MSc Physiology, Sports Science & Nutrition degree from the University of Glasgow last month. After going through the previous issues, I realised that I didn’t congratulate Dr Jason Tee and Dr Wilbur Kraak when they were awarded their PhD’s earlier this year. What an achievement for you gentlemen. Congratulations, Jason, Wilbur, and Simone!
1. Saw, A. E., Main, L. C. & Gastin, P. B. Monitoring the athlete training response: subjective self-reported measures trump commonly used objective measures: a systematic review. Br. J. Sports Med. bjsports-2015-094758 (2015). doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094758
2. Hulin, B. T., Gabbett, T. J., Lawson, D. W., Caputi, P. & Sampson, J. A. The acute:chronic workload ratio predicts injury: high chronic workload may decrease injury risk in elite rugby league players. Br. J. Sports Med. bjsports-2015-094817 (2015). doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094817
3. Lambert, M. & Borresen, J. A Theoretical Basis of Monitoring Fatigue : A Practical Approach for Coaches. Int. J. Sport. Sci. Coach. 1, 371–388 (2006)