Loughborough University’s Al Stewart, Head of Performance Support/Strength and Conditioning Lead at the new National Tennis Academy, is joined by Enda King, Head of Performance Rehabilitation at SSC Sports Medicine, Dublin, to talk through some of the hottest topics in their fields.
Hosted by Martin Foster (Applied Sport Management Lead), both experts discuss technical modes of excellence and how to prevent and cope with time on the sidelines.
One such area discussed is ‘change of direction’, as Al Stewart explains:
“People tend to talk about agility when they mean a change of direction…I think the key difference is that the agility is in response to a stimulus, or a number of stimuli. If it's in the reaction…whether that's an opponent, a ball, or whatever, that's agility. If you just change direction, with no cues at all, that’s exactly that.
“If you look at certain sports, such as football, you have over 700 changes of direction in the game, per player, so when you consider that it is hugely important…we need to make sure we get a good understanding of the main biomechanics of that movement, and the stresses that go along with it. We also need to put the right context in place for training so that we can train appropriately to prepare for those movements, but also, not just to reduce risk of injury, but also to improve performance.”
As Enda explains, it is this area in sport performance where injury regularly appears; “almost 50% of ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injuries happen during a change of direction. So, how can we analyse how these athletes changed direction and how can we calculate that in a closed setting? Does that differ from the more chaotic and agility driven scenario?
“The common mistakes are focusing on the performance outcomes, looking only at the time, and not appreciating how the test influences what you're going to you calculate.”
During the episode, Enda and Al also discuss ideas around coping with injury and how to deliver bespoke programmes and rehab for squads and individuals.
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Loughborough University's 'Experts in Sport' podcast is a regular series, that brings together experts from across Loughborough University with external thought leaders to discuss the latest research and hot topics in sport and academia.