The Real Science of Sport Podcast
Why How We Select Young Sporting Talent Is Probably All Wrong
Around the world, the way that young talent is identified is often done without an understanding of how young athletes develop. We talk to Norwegian researcher in the field, Eirik Halvorsen Wik, PhD, from Cape Town's Institute of Sport and Exercise Medicine at Stellenbosch University, for a close look at the challenges faced by young sporting stars, why there may be a better way to make selections at youth level and how to ensure the best athletes are given the best chance at long term success. Wik has previously worked at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre.
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27. From Cauliflower Ears To Subterfurge: Inside the World of a Pro Rugby Coach01:34:38John Dobson is one of South Africa's most celebrated rugby coaches. As head coach of the Stormers franchise, who won the 2021-22 United Rugby Championship, Dobson is renowned as one of the most passionate and knowledgeable coaches in the game. The team talk candidly to Dobson about tactics, what coaches say to players at halftime, what makes a good coach, the clever way coaches communicate with players during a game and why coaching boxes have to be swept before games to ensure they aren't bugged. For the rugby novice and connoisseur alike.
26. Rugby World Cup '23: The Amazing Tech Used To Look After Players01:27:41Having just returned from a week at the Rugby World Cup, Prof. Ross Tucker explains the amazing tech used to spot concussions during RWC matches. Plus the team discuss how the tackle rule is not a perfect science and if 'bomb squad' tactics further threaten player safety. PLUS latest doping news and a Vuelta a Espana update.SHOW NOTES:Simona Halep’s 4 year ban announced by ITIA: Paul Pogba’s testosterone failureArticle on the concussion experienced by the AFL player discussion on the showThe piece that describes the “duty of care” arguments and whether such injuries should be thought of as footy incidents or preventable brain injuries, and at what cost to the nature of the sportThe first of three articles that Ross published on how head injuries happen in rugbyThe study that found, among other things, that higher contact tackles are more likely to cause head injuriesThe Head Contact Process Currently used by World Rugby for adjudicating high tackles
25. The Man Who Cycled the Globe: Adventurer Ron Rutland from Paris01:30:01Ron Rutland arrived in Paris on 7 September 2023, concluding the fourth leg of a remarkable (and not always planned) journey that has spanned a decade and four Rugby World Cups. Beginning in 2013, Ron rode from Cape Town to London via every country in Africa, then London to Tokyo, Tokyo to Auckland, and Auckland to Paris (via South and North America). It's a journey that has covered over 100,000 km, crossing 115 countries on six continents. In between, he caddied the longest hole of golf every played across Mongolia. Ron has seen and experienced it all - mudslides, heat, illness, adopted dogs, bus accidents, Himalayan and Andean passes, 100km climbs and even longer descents. He and Ross sit down in a hotel coffee shop in Paris to talk about his cycling journey around the world, fitness gains, calorie deficits, see-food diets, and the challenges overcome, lessons learned, and life philosophies developed along the way.Show notesThe documentary made about Ron's caddying expedition across Mongolia: The Longest HoleThe journey from London to Tokyo is available as a link at the bottom of this page (it just requires sign up for a free trial, and possibly a VPN), including Himalayan Peaks and mudslides: Everything in between
24. Sean Ingle on anti-doping, the state of T&F and a look ahead to the Rugby World Cup01:00:32Ross is joined in Paris by Guardian Chief Sports Reporter, Sean Ingle, to look back on the recent World Athletics Championships, but with a focus more on the off-track news stories, including the state of anti-doping in sport, conflicts in the media zone, and the marketability of the sport and its athletes. They also look ahead to the upcoming Rugby World Cup, with Sean visiting France to set the scene for Paris' upcoming eleven-month festival of sports, and Ross attending meetings ahead of this weekend's opening fixtures. That discussion explores some of Sean's family history in boxing, the value of contact sport, and the challenge faced by all sports to prevent and manage head impacts more effectively.
23. La Vuelta and Remco / The Farrell Tackling Incident Unpacked / World Athletics Champs Wrap01:26:10Why the Owen Farrell incident may well have saved rugby / Remco Evenepoel takes on the best stage racers at this year's Vuelta a Espana: Can he dominate? / All the best performances and stories from the World Athletics Championships.
22. Woodpeckers do get concussed, and what this means for the Q-Collar and brain injury prevention01:32:17The Q-Collar is a device that is promoted to prevent concussion and "protect the brain during repetitive head impacts", and has been spotted around the necks of athletes in a number of sports, ranging from cricket to football. But do these claims and promises stand up to scientific scrutiny? Is there a sound biological rationale for the claims? Should parents, athletes and coaches explore and use devices such as this to prevent brain injury?In this episode, Ross explores the answers to the above questions with Prof James Smoliga, professor of Public health and community medicine at Tufts University. Prof Smoliga puts an intense and in-depth scientific microscope on the claims, and concludes that there is no quality evidence in support of concussion and brain health claims, and that the foundational premise on which the product rests is flawed. We also learn that woodpeckers DO show signs of brain injury, that studies linking altitude to protection against concussion are grossly exaggerated and misinterpreted, and, humorously, that NFL teams with animal mascots are less likely to see concussion that teams without animal mascots.Show notes:Dr James Smoliga's university profile pageThe science and research page of the Q-Collar website, describing many of the studies James talks about in the podcastJames' paper on the mechanisms used by woodpeckers to (partly) protect their brains from injuryStudy showing signs of brain injury in woodpeckers, despite the above mentioned adaptationsThe original study showing a purported protective effect of "altitude" (above 600ft!) on concussionThe rebuttal letter from James' colleague that absolutely eviscerates the above mentioned altitude studyJames' meta-analysis that looks at over 5 million data points to show that altitude does not have a protective effect against concussionThe paper discussed on the pod that uses the DTI method to show brain changes with and without the Q-CollarThe 2021 study that failed to find a reduction in concussion incidence with the Q-Collar
Mike LIVE in Budapest, Day 5 recap from the World Athletics Championships: Ingebrigtsen, Warholm, ties and goulash55:22Day 5 from the World Athletics Championships threw up some intriguing storylines. An upset in the men's 1500m, as history repeated in the GB (actually Edinburgh Athletic Club) vs Ingebrigtsen rivalry, Karsten Warholm returned to the top step of the 400m hurdles podium, and there was an agreed tie for gold in the Women's Pole vault. We discuss the physiological fragility of the 1500m event, ponder fatigue and pacing strategies in the field events, compare Lyles 2023 to Bolt 2009, and Mike gives us insights on Hungarian goulash!
Mike LIVE in Budapest: Day 4 recap from the World Athletics Championships57:01Mike is on the ground in Budapest, and the duo are doing LIVE Instagram chats every morning, discussing the big stories from the World Athletics Championships. In this episode, we go back to Night 3 to talk about the women's 100m champion and a press conference that Mike attended (and asked a question that got a prickly answer!), and discuss Sha'Carri Richardson's volatile relationship with the media, in contrast to her huge potential upside to the sport. We also talk about Faith Kipyegon's absolute dominance of middle distance running (bordering on invincibility), the heat and humidity in Budapest as a challenge to everyone from the schedule-creators to the shot-putter to the marathon runner. We also open the door on some anti-doping stories, including the potential for a new tool, and a brewing doping controversy.These episodes have been recorded every day on Instagram live (so apologies for some scratchy sound, live from the field), and then all of them are uploaded as Patron exclusives, so if you're enjoying our coverage and feel like being part of the Science of Sport patron community, check us out and consider donating here!Show notes:The article about a tilted runway in the pole vault - Mike and his spirit level are on it!Systematic review on cannabis and its effects on exercise performanceThe Sean Ingle piece about AIU and the new antidoping toolA brief article on Tobi Amusan's whereabouts failure and the prospect of AIU appealing the decision (the full decision is out today, more to come, no doubt)
19. Developing Bodies: Nutrition And The Young Athlete01:55:15From creating a healthy relationship with food to eating for performance, looking after young athletes is a complex issue with long-term repercussions. The team sit down with dietician Dr Sarah Chantler, from Leeds Becket University, to discuss the challenges and solutions. A must-listen for parents and young athletes alike. PLUS World Cycling Champs review, Owen Farrell incident and Richard Freeman ban.SHOW NOTES:News:Owen Farrell incident video Richard Freeman banMain storyDr Sarah Chantler's Instagram