Tag: Sports Science

4th Asia Conference in Aspire and others

There has been a lot of activity recently, and the time to get the blog updated is lacking. It is now the weekend and while I finish a book chapter for an upcoming book (it is going to be a great one, stay tuned!), I feel inspired to take a break and write few notes while sitting outside and enjoying the views.

47512274-FA89-42A8-8158-54E61B8EB822.jpg

First of all, let’s talk about work. We hosted the 4th annual congress of the Association of Sports Institutes in Asia (if you want to know more about this organisation you can read all the relevant information here). It was an opportunity to discuss with our Asian colleagues some specific aspects of how athletes transition from youth to junior to senior, how to implement technology to support athletes and how to best prepare them for a long career in sport. It was a great chance to share experiences and knowledge and plan few activities of common interest. I spoke about how research can help sports together with Dr Marcus Lee from the Singapore Institute and it was interesting to see how we are all trying to do similar things facing similar challenges Worldwide. We had great experts also contributing to our discussions and providing their insights on specific areas (see details here). I hope this organisation grows and provides increasing networking and knowledge-sharing opportunities. Also, I hope it will become a catalyst for exchange programmes, joint training camps and competitions and coaching seminars on specific issues.

Right after the conference, we had the Swimming Camp organised by the Qatar Swimming Federation with the Olympic Council of Asia (details here). We supported the camp with some testing activities and it was great to see how much swimming talent there is in Asia which will hopefully translate in more World class performers in years to come. The participants were very impressed with our facilities and the excellent organisation from the Qatar Swimming Federation. This event was run together with the  FINA Swimming World Cup event in Doha.

In the same week, we had our graduate squash player Abdulla Al Tamimi compete in the World Championships here in Doha with some great performances exiting in the 3rd round (and becoming the first Qatari player to every reach this level) after a very close match with the number 3 in the World.

Image result for Abdulla Tamimi Tarek Momen

Abdulla is a great example of what it is possible to achieve if you work hard and I predict further rising in his ranking if he continues to train and develop like he is now. Abdulla is a super-nice young man, well respected in the squash community and a great ambassador for Qatar and it is always a pleasure to work with him.

Qatar is now a sporting destination, every month there are plenty of events to attend and I am looking forward to watch some matches of the imminent Football clubs’ World Cup in December in one of the new stadiums for the 2022 World Championships.

On a personal note, I am still recovering from my recent calf injury and managed to enter a Triathlon in the team event so I could swim and bike. Hopefully I can be back doing triathlons on my own in December.

Calf.png

IMG_1123

Few final notes on the latest happenings in the World of sport. The Nike Oregon Project debacle and the Richard Freeman enquiry. Nothing surprises me anymore, the World of high performance sport is sadly full of examples like the ones exposed in these two cases.  While they may seem different, they have similar aspects which I will try to discuss in a next post when I stop shaking my head and I write a blog article with some opinions.

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.

IMG_5405

Finally, the Podcast I recorded with Michael Gervais some time ago was made available on iTunes. I am a big fan 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.

 

Screen-Shot-2017-08-04-at-3.27.53-PM

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