The Not So Confusing Guide To Sports Science

At times, the term “sports science” feels so nebulous, that regardless of what organized attempts you make to integrate sports science, you will always fall short in capturing the whole picture. As a matter of fact, that is 100% correct. Regardless of what you do, what you think you do, or what you want to do, you will never be able to fully understand a single individual, let alone every individual you work with… Sounds like an uphill battle, right?

 

Well, the good thing about sports science is that it is a failure driven process. Anyone who tells you otherwise is lying through their teeth. Unlike what might be the initial hopes and dreams of someone looking to get into or take on sports science, it will never be a utopia-like, rainbow filled process that will elucidate all of your problems. However, the exciting aspect of sports science is that right there! We don’t know, which means what we are currently doing without the use of sports science is also unknown. So, instead of not asking questions and thinking we are right, we might as well start looking for answers and accept the bumps along the way.

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Free Radicals

I am going to preface this post by saying “I am not a Nutritionist”. The following content provided is to be considered thought provoking and not a definitive guide to management of free radicals.

What are free radicals?

 

Free radicals are developed in your body through many different means and reactions. To avoid diving too far in to the molecular biology, lets keep it short. Free radicals are bad. They are highly unstable, reactive oxygen molecules that are present in your body. Due to their instability, they are always looking for stability, which means they are looking to bind to other molecules and cause havoc.

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General Adaptation and Specific Adaptation

The process of the “general adaptive response” is conceptually a very simple process. Without going into great molecular detail, the following stress response occurs in the body

  1. Recognizes a stressor
  2. Hormones are released
  3. Mobilizes energies to deal with the stressor
  4. Structures may be destroyed while dealing with the stressor (myosin heads during a muscular contraction)
  5. Magnitude and duration of the stressor determines the amount of destruction and mobilization of energy
  6. Once stressor is removed or defeated (like a cold), the body can begin the repair process
  7. Energies that were used and structures were broken are rebuilt in a stronger fashion to allow the body to deal with future stressors of the same nature

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The Passive Spring

Storing and utilizing elastic energy is not only an intrinsic neuromuscular quality, but a skill. It requires the proper tensioning and timing of strong structural and contractile properties, which in turn allows them to store and realize the kinetic forces acting upon the body during the amortization phase of the jump. In other words, proper skill and strength allows you to act more like a bouncy ball when you hit the ground and less like a sack of potatoes.

Image 1

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Programming Application to Match Desired Adaptations

AUTHOR: MATT VAN DYKE 

Author’s Main Website: http://www.vandykestrength.com/

Every coach in the sports performance realm has likely heard the phrase “There are a million ways to skin a cat” in regards to implemented training. In all honesty this is not far from the truth. Depending on the athlete’s training age, almost any coach can get an athlete “strong”. It takes one with a deeper understanding of what is occurring within the athlete’s organism in order for performance to be increased to the greatest extent. The aim of this post is to force coaches to consider and implement training “concepts” or “primary goals”, rather than just a set, rep, or loading scheme.

 

As the internship coordinator, I have had the ability to ask countless applicants their processes of improving various aspects of performance through training, such as strength. Depending upon how well read the applicant may be, common answers range from set and rep schemes, weekly training set up, to even methodologies (triphasic, tier, 1×20, etc.). Based on the terminology of the question, all of these responses would be correct. As long as the loading scheme includes progressive overload and stresses the athlete being trained, any methodology has the potential to improve strength. However, when the applicant is asked to further explain their rationale behind implementing a methodology, more times than not their answers are unclear and spoken without much confidence. Please understand I am in no way knocking any applicant or intern that has gone through our application process, but this consistent finding exemplifies one of the bigger problems in our field. Too many coaches can spit out a set and rep scheme, use an intensity chart, or quote a system, while failing to understand the changes or adaptations being induced by the described training methodology. As coaches continue to develop a greater understanding of the human body, the more in-depth their training systems can become.

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Internal versus External Loading

It is common for coaches to calculate external load to guide the training process. It is an easy to use tool that helps one get a better understanding of the total physical work being imposed on the athlete. To calculate external load, a coach may use one of many different metrics (tonnage, raw volume, relative volume, acute to chronic etc…).

 

At the end of the day, the goal of using external load is to help coaches better understand the internal loading/adaptive process. Ultimately, all we care about as coaches are the internal adaptations that occur. The accumulation and systematic application of the cellular stress-adaptation process is what eventually manifests itself in the form of improved athletic form. In other words, what happens inside of our body determines how we move in the external environment.

“accumulated cellular adaptations lead to systemic change”

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Jump Height and Absolute Strength: An Indirect Relationship

 

One of the most commonly talked about topics in strength and conditioning is the role that maximal strength plays in performance and whether or not it is necessary.

Before I dive into this topic, let me get some of the confusion out of the way. Maximal strength is not only important for performance, but it is mandatory. Without some level of maximal strength, there is no way any effort of great power could ever be performed.

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Explosive Strength Development

Figure 1: (Left Graph) relationship between load and percentage of 1rm. (Right Graph) An example of a force-time curve depicting how different elementary qualities are expressed with different external loads. Graphs are modified from “supertraining”

 

Explosive strength is not an independent quality, meaning there is no specific exercise that directly trains all of the components involved in its production. Instead, it is comprised up of four “elementary qualities” (listed below and in figure 1). These elementary qualities are independent of each other and must be developed through separate means. Together, they form the expression of explosive strength.

 

  1. Maximal Velocity (Vo)
  2. Starting Strength (early stage rate of force development) (SS)
  3. Acceleration Strength (late stage rate of force development) (AS)
  4. Maximal Strength (So)

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