New Paper on progressing youth to senior in Athletics

We have finally managed to get this paper accepted and published on the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. This was part of a larger study conducted with colleagues in Italy to “map” historical data of Italian Athletics and determine progressions in different athletics events to differentiate between successful and non successful adult performers by analysing the longitudinal developments of such results.
The first part of this work was published last year on PlosOne. In this recent work we focused on sprints and throws events analysing male and female progressions with more than 5000 athletes present in the Italian official results database available in FIDAL.

A total of 5929 athletes (female: n = 2977, 50.2%) were included in the study. The age of entering competition and personal best performance was identified in the official competition records. Personal best performances were ranked in percentiles and top-level athletes were considered those in the highest 4% of the performance distribution.

 

Overall, when controlling for the age of entering competition, top-level athletes reached their personal best later (i.e., around 23–25 years old) for all events compared to the rest of the athletes. Moreover, regression analysis showed that entering competitions later was linked to better performances during adulthood. Also, only 17%–26% [90% CI] of the top-level adult athletes were considered as such when they were 14–17 years old.

 

These findings and previous ones in other events also form other research groups (like this one from our Norwegian colleagues) suggest that early sport success is not a strong predictor of top-level performance at senior level. Also, gender differences may be evident in the rate of performance development in different events.

Such analyses are important to develop reference databases to assess young athletes progression and be able to avoid de-selection of late maturers.

I will speak about this approach in a talk in Aspetar in January 2019. Before then, I will write more about this on the blog as I think it is important to have a more systematic look at youth performances around the World in Athletics in order to identify trends and provide more chances to assess athletes’ progressions.

 

Recent activity

Despite the fact I am on holiday, it has been quite a busy time. With my team we managed to get another paper accepted and published reviewing performance demands of Squash with particular reference to young athletes. The paper is available on the International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching.

I was in Berlin for a couple of days during the European Athletics Championships to give a lecture and participate in a fireside chat on using Sports Science effectively in Sport. The invitation came from the European Athletics Federation and it was a great initiative from Frank Dick and his collaborators to develop some professional development opportunities during major events. The initiative hopefully is the first one of many and it was called European Athletics Coaches Club, details can be found here. It was great to catch up with many friends in the Athletics community, contribute to the discussions, and get to see Charles Van Commenee again after our time in British Sport and listen to his approach to coaching high performers as well as chat about recent success of Dutch women in Team Sports. I had the chance to also attend the evening session on the 9th of August and experience the wonderful Olympic Stadium in Berlin. What an amazing facility and great atmosphere.

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Finally, the Podcast I recorded with Michael Gervais some time ago was made available on iTunes. I am a big fun of Michael’s Finding Mastery Podcast and the people he has interviewed on this topic are pretty amazing. So, It is pretty humbling to be considered for this, and it was for me a great exercise in reflecting on my personal journey and how lucky I was in meeting some pretty amazing people as well as experiencing incredible opportunities.

 

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If you want to subscribe to the podcast just go here. If you want to hear the podcast, just go on this webpage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New paper just published: Training Young Endurance Athletes – Typical Volumes

We finally got this paper accepted and published reporting the influence of an 8weeks training programme consisting of combined strength training and running activities on young middle-distance runners of Aspire Academy. We have reported all training data and outcomes using MBI approach and effect sizes. Hopefully this little snapshot will provide more opportunities to do more in analysing training interventions in young athletic cohorts and more comparative data will become available.

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