Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Coaching: Communities of Practice

A community of practice (CoP) was coined in 1991 to describe a group of people sharing a common concern or passion, who interact regularly to learn how to do it better. A recent article in JOPERD discusses how CoPs can be fantastic educational tools for interscholastic coaches. However, CoPs can be incorporated in many coaching situations as shown through research by Dr. Diane Culver and Dr. Pierre Trudel over the past few years.

How does CoP work?
A facilitator is appointed to be the “traffic cop” of the group. Their role is coordination only, ensuring a flow of discussion amoung the group.

What needs does CoP fulfill?

  • Reflection and Mentorship
    o Members are exposed to perspectives of others and can developing trusting relationships.
  • Adaptable Knowledge
    o Sharing of old and new ideas allow a flexibility to work in various environments.
  • Competitive Nature of Coaches
    o Group controls the transfer of knowledge and over time cooperation between members should occur.
  • Larger Educational Structure
    o Each member is considered an expert and contributor to the group.

For more articles relating to Communities of Practice (CoPs) contact AskALibrarian@sirc.ca

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Alcohol and Athletic Performance

There has been a lot written on the association between alcohol and athletes. A recent article into the SIRC Collection discusses the physiological aspects alcohol consumption and its impacts on athletic performance from a nutritionist’s perspective.

Alcohol affects each organ in the body and is related to a number of diseases. While the amount of alcohol consumed and cumulative effects of alcohol consumption factor in to its impact on performance, there are a number of ways that alcohol can impair performance.

  • Sports-related injuries can occur due to a reduction in cognitive function, balance and motor control
  • Regular consumption can depress the immune function, slowing down healing rate and causing athletes to become more susceptible to infections
  • Acute consumption leads to impairments in motor skills and physical performance
  • Even low levels of alcohol can slow reaction time and decrease hand-eye coordination
  • Alcohol can weaken the pumping force of the heart, impair temperature regulation during exercise, decrease grip strength, and decrease time to fatigue
  • Dehydration can occur due to alcohol’s diuretic properties

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Position Statement on the Use of Alcohol in Sports emphasizes that use of alcohol can be detrimental to athletic performance and recommends that alcohol be avoided for at least 48 hours prior to an event and that post-exercise an athlete should rehydrate properly with water and/or sports beverages before any alcohol consumption.

Reference: Volpe, Stella Lucia (2010). Alcohol and Athletic Performance, ACSM’s health & fitness journal, 14(3),28-30.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cross Trainers?

We all know how important it is to have proper fitting footwear for our sporting endeavors. But did you ever think that you’d be wearing shoes in the pool? American Olympic swimmer Amanda Weir has been using running shoes in her pool training to help improve her lower body strength for kicking. According to her coach, shoes are a great form of resistance training; they add a strain on the swimmer’s legs that forces them to develop more powerful muscles and better endurance. Kicking with shoes means that swimmers can retain a full range of movement so they develop strength alongside ankle flexibility. There also seems to be a mental or perceptual benefit to training with shoes in that when they come off, the feet feel lighter and faster, and have a better grip on the water.

So next time you are looking to throw a little change into your swimming routine, pack your shoes and try it out.

Reference from the SIRC Collection: Savage Hays, Kelsey (2010). If the Shoe Fits… Splash, 18(3), 32-33.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Looks or Training Volume? Which is more important for ultra runners?

What matters more to performance in ultrarunners? Training or anthropometric parameters? The results from this research were published recently, combined with interesting facts on running performance such as:

  • Skin-fold thickness is positively associated with performances over 1,500m -10,000m and marathons
  • Length of upper leg is a positive associations with running times over 800,1500 and 5000m
  • Circumferences of chest and thigh are positively associated with running times over 800m
  • Upper arm circumference is positively associated with 10,000m running times and ultrarunners

Characteristics of Ultrarunners

  • Lower BMI
  • Lower amounts of fat at abdomen and legs

At the end of the day, the results of the study indicate that training volume and personal best time in marathon have a greater impact on performance when you are going the distance.

Want to read the full article? Contact us at askalibrarian@sirc.ca

Knechtle, B., Wirth, A., Knechtle, P., and Rosemann, T. (2010) Training Volume and Personal Best Time in Marathon, Not Anthropometric Parameters, are Associated with Performance in Male 100-km Ultrarunners. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 24(3), 604-609.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pregnancy and Exercise is Highlighted this Month

Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher are to Olympic Distance runners who happen are due on the same day this September. This has caused a flurry of articles being written on pregnancy and exercise in popular publications this month as they share their tips on physical fitness letting readers catch a glimpse of how they train during their pregnancies. The result?
- They ease up on training, shortening runs and cross training.- They indulge in cravings once in a while.- They incorporate new forms of fitness like anti-gravity treadmills to reduce pressure on their bellies.If you are looking for more information on pregnancy and exercise? Check out the SIRC Newsletter and Runner’s World site on the topic.

Also, the following articled have recently been published on the topic. They are available from the SIRC Collection.

R, B. (2010). Does exercise training during pregnancy influence fetal cardiovascular responses to an exercise stimulus? Insights from a randomised, controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 44(10), 762-764.

Jones, J., Housman, J., & McAleese, W. (2010). EXERCISE, NUTRITION, AND WEIGHT MANAGEMENT DURING PREGNANCY. American Journal of Health Studies, 25(3), 120-128.

Melzer, K., Schutz, Y., Boulvain, M., & Kayser, B. (2010). Physical Activity and Pregnancy: Cardiovascular Adaptations, Recommendations and Pregnancy Outcomes. Sports Medicine, 40(6), 493-507.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Race Tactics

Using smart thinking in your races can often help you shave seconds off your time. An interesting article from Running Times talks about using a few simple tactics to increase your racing success. While the context for the article is running, they can be applied in a variety of sporting environments.

  • Run the tangents. Be aware of the race route and choose the most efficient line to shave off a few seconds. The shortest distance on a curving road, is to travel from inside corner to inside corner.
  • Pass with authority. Don’t just ease by a competitor, fly by them and make them question their own physical state.
  • Pass wide. Passing wide on a straight stretch of the route prevents other racers from latching on to your surge without adding too much in the way of distance.
  • Surging early and often. Don’t be afraid to surge early in a race to create gaps, quite often they are maintained throughout the race. Throw in another surge shortly after the first one, the gap you make may well be enough to get you permanently ahead.
  • Sneak a peek. While you shouldn’t be looking back at your competitors (it may be seen as a sign of tiredness), sneaking a peek with a quick glance while going around corners should give you valuable information while leaving your competitors unaware.
  • Steal their move. If you sense a competitor is about to make their move, “steal” it and do it first making them respond. Taking control of the move takes the impetus away from them.
  • Surge on corners. A great place to take advantage, surging through corners when most slow down to negotiate them forces your competitors to change gears to catch up. Just keep your cadence fast and your stride short.
  • Surge at the top and bottom of every hill. Many runners slow down over the crest of a hill and slow down at the bottom, take advantage of this surging over the top of the hill and carrying your momentum at the bottom to surge through the flat.

Thinking through your strategic moves can give you many advantages in your race technique. So remember to train your mind as well as your body for your next race.

Order the full article from SIRC: McMillan, Greg (2009). Shaving Seconds & Rousting Rivals. Running Times (372), 18.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Building Confidence

September brings with it a season of change and a sense of beginning … back to school, back to work after the summer, a beginning of a new season of training. Change and new beginnings often bring a sense of nervous anticipation as we deal with all the feelings that are brought to the surface. How can we build our confidence to address these feelings? A recent article in the SIRC Collection looks at achieving your sporting success through strengthening your ‘confidence muscle’.

Three key points of the article are highlighted:

  • Reflect on your past performances. Identify what factors contributed to success.
  • Write a confidence resume. Write out past achievements, successes and anything where you are pleased with yourself.
  • Do visualization exercises. Repeatedly imagine you are watching yourself in a movie being the best you can be for your next performance.

As in most cases, lessons learned in sport can be directly applicable to life. So the next time you are facing a new challenge, meet it head on by flexing your new ‘muscle’.

Order the full article from SIRC: (2010). Soar With Incredible Levels of Confidence. Ultra-FIT, 20(4), 40-41.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Check out the latest SIRC Newsletter on Volunteers!

Recruiting, selection, references, training, recognition and retention is just as important with volunteers as it would be with paid employees. Often recruiting volunteers is a major hurdle faced by organizations. Why not try looking at the older or younger generations for a new pool of recruits? It is important to remember a proper background check is essential when someone wants to volunteer and this becomes critical when they will be working with children. Don’t forget this vital step just because the labour is free. Finally, work with your volunteers to ensure they have enough training. This will also help determine what keeps them motivated and happy, ensuring they continue to volunteer with your organization.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hill Climbing –Where do you stand?

A featured article in Cycling Weekly recently discussed how to be a better climber. What caught our attention were the tips of when to stand during a climb.

When do you Stand on the Climb?
Staying in the Saddle
  • More efficient since all the oxygen can go to your legs
  • Leg strength will improve
  • Increased coordination in transferring the drive from one leg to another

Standing in the Saddle

  • Produce higher power outputs for steed gradients
  • Standing from time to time will keep you in better shape
  • Can be used to attack and accelerate up hill

Weighty Issues

  • Most of the best climbers weight (in pounds) no more than twice their height in inches. So a 6ft rider would weight approximately 144pds.

Tips for Climbing

  • Look ahead
  • Ride at your own pace
  • Move towards the front of the group at the beginning of climbs to give yourself slipping room
  • Time when to change into an easier gear so you don’t lose momentum.

More cycling tips are available in the SIRC Collection.