Jan 29, 2015
Bulletin Board

New Youth Sports Institute

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is partnering with Sanford Health, a non-profit healthcare delivery system with 31 hospitals and more than 900 physicians in the upper Midwest, to form the National Youth Sports Health and Safety Institute (NYSHSI). The goal of the institute is to “be the recognized national leader and advocate for developing, advancing, and disseminating comprehensive research, education, recommendations, guidelines, and policy to enhance the experience, development, health, and safety of children and adolescents involved in sports and physical activity.”

“The American College of Sports Medicine and Sanford Health are embarking on a partnership that holds great promise for our young athletes and those who work with and care for them, along with their parents and families,” Thomas Best, MD, PhD, past president of the ACSM, said in a press release announcing the formation of the institute. “Our expertise and our shared objective of helping young athletes enjoy sports more safely have led to the birth of this institute that has unprecedented potential to improve the experience of our youth engaged in sport and physical activity.”

According to the press release, the NYSHSI will initially focus on four areas: mild traumatic brain injury/concussions; heat illness and injury; overuse/overload and injury risk; and unique clinical conditions in youth athletic populations, such as Type I diabetes, eating disorders, and the sickle cell trait. The institute’s Web site will provide information, links, and resources for athletes, medical professionals, coaches, and parents interested in youth sports.

A poll taken by Kelton Research in August 2011 indicated that 91 percent of Americans feel youth sports participation is important and 94 percent feel more needs to be done to protect the health and safety of young athletes. “There is no question our young people need to be active, and participating in youth sports is an important component to that activity,” said Michael Bergeron, PhD, FACSM, Executive Director of the NYSHSI and Director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance at Sanford Health. “However, too many of these young athletes are doing too much, too fast–some even suffering serious, life-threatening and life-altering injuries. This new institute will support youth athletics while also creating guidelines to protect their health and safety.”

More information on the Institute can be found on its Web site at: www.nyshsi.org.

Assisted vs. Resisted Sprint Training

Assisted and resisted sprint training both lead to faster sprint times, but in different ways, according to a recent study of women’s soccer players. Researchers found that assisted training produced gains in the initial phases of a sprint while resisted training produced gains in the later phases.

Conducted by David Upton, PhD, Assistant Professor at Texas Christian University, and published in the October issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, the study looked at the effects of sprint training on 27 NCAA Division I women’s soccer players. The athletes were timed in a 40-yard sprint and then randomly split into three groups. One group performed resisted sprint training, another performed assisted sprint training, and the third group did sprint training without resistance or assistance.

The players trained in 12 sessions over a four-week period, with the two test groups using specially designed harnesses connected to lines that either pulled against or with the athletes as they ran. In each session, all three groups performed 10 20-yard maximal effort sprints followed by a 20-yard deceleration to jog with three minutes of recovery between reps.

After the four weeks, the players were tested again in a 40-yard sprint. The assisted training group showed a speed increase of 0.08 meters per second while the resisted training group increased their speed by 0.06 meters per second. The control group showed no change in speed.

When researchers looked at the test groups’ split times, they discovered that the assistance-trained players had increased their speed and acceleration during the first 15 yards while the resistance-trained runners showed all their improvement over the final 25 yards. Thus, assisted training may be more appropriate for sports where initial quickness is desired, such as soccer, while resisted training may be better for athletes who need continued acceleration, such as a wide receiver in football.

The study titled “The Effect of Assisted and Resisted Sprint Training on Acceleration and Velocity in Division IA Female Soccer Athletes” is available on The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Web site. Go to: journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr and type the title into the search window.

NCAA Adjusts Transgender Policy

The NCAA Executive Committee has approved a new policy clarifying the rules governing participation opportunities for transgender student-athletes. The new policy continues to allow transgender athletes to compete on men’s teams, while eligibility for participating on women’s teams is dependent on the athlete’s use of testosterone treatments.

Under the new policy, which was adopted in August, a trans male (female to male) athlete who has received testosterone treatments can compete on a men’s or mixed gender team, but not on a women’s team. Trans males who have not received testosterone treatments can continue to compete on either men’s or women’s teams.

A trans female (male to female) athlete can continue to compete on a men’s team, but cannot compete for a women’s team until completing one year of documented testosterone-suppression treatment. If a trans female who hasn’t met the one-year requirement competes for a women’s team, that team would then be considered a mixed team and eligible to compete only in a men’s championship. Transgender athletes undergoing testosterone treatments need a medical exception because elevated levels of testosterone could otherwise result in a violation of NCAA drug testing rules.

“As a core value, the NCAA believes in and is committed to diversity, inclusion, and gender equity among its student-athletes, coaches, and administrators,” NCAA Director of Inclusion Karen Morrison wrote in a memo to schools announcing the policy. “Since participation in athletics provides student-athletes a unique and positively powerful experience, the goals of these policies are to create opportunity for transgender student-athletes to participate in accordance with their gender identity while maintaining the relative balance of competitive equity within sports teams.”

The policy resulted from a two-year process that started with a think tank titled “Equal Opportunities for Transgender Student-Athletes,” which was sponsored by The Women’s Sports Foundation and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Part of the purpose of the think tank, which included representatives from the NCAA, was to develop model policies for college athletic programs that would ensure inclusion of transgender athletes. Several NCAA committees–including the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee–and other sports governance organizations also supplied input during the policy’s formation.

The NCAA provides a variety of resources on transgender athletes, including a booklet titled “Inclusion of Transgender Student-Athletes,” a 30-minute video, and a slide presentation for administrators and student-athletes. These can be found by typing “transgender” into the search window at: www.ncaa.org.

Football Head Injury Risk Varies by Position

When it comes to hits to the head in football, running backs endure the hardest impacts while linemen are hit most frequently. These are the findings from a study that tracked players at three NCAA Division I schools over three seasons.

The study used wireless sensors, which were placed in players’ helmets, to measure how often each player was hit, where on the helmet they were hit, and how hard the hit was. Researchers used the data to develop a composite score reflecting the combined exposure called HITsp. Running backs had the highest average HITsp score at 36.2, followed by quarterbacks at 34.5, and linebackers at 32.6. Although linemen showed the lowest scores (28.9 for defensive linemen and 29.0 for offensive), they received the largest number of hits to the head–more than double those at any position other than linebacker.

The study, led by Joseph Crisco, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedics at Brown University and Director of the Bioengineering Laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital, recorded 286,636 hits during both games and practices among 314 players from Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Virginia Tech. He is now analyzing the findings and looking for insight on how the different head contacts can affect injuries sustained.

In a press release, Crisco–who is a former college football and lacrosse player–said he hopes the data will help equipment makers and football governing bodies find ways to make the sport safer by controlling exposures to injury-causing hits. One possible solution is designing helmets specific to the different positions played.

In a separate commentary published in Current Sports Medicine Reports, Crisco and co-author Richard Greenwald, PhD, an Adjunct Professor of Engineering at Dartmouth, stated that curbing intentional use of the head in sport is critical. They also said that the addition of new playing rules may be an answer.

“We propose the adoption of rules–or in some sports, we champion the enforcement of existing rules–that eliminate intentional head contact in helmeted sports,” they wrote. “When coupled with education that leads to modified tackling, blocking, or checking techniques, these rules will reduce head impact exposure and have the potential to reduce the incidence and severity of brain injury.”

An abstract of the study titled “Head Impact Exposure in Collegiate Football Players” can be found by typing the title into the search window at the Journal of Biomechanics Web site: www.jbiomech.com.

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