Latest research in football - week 9 - 2020

As previous literature updates, I have performed a PubCrawler search looking for football articles in NCBI Medline (PubMed) and GenBank databases.

Following studies were retrieved for this week:

#1 Cognitive Ageing in Top-Level Female Soccer Players Compared to a Normative Sample from the General Population: A Cross-sectional Study
Reference: J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2020 Feb 26:1-9. doi: 10.1017/S1355617720000119. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Prien A, Besuden C, Junge A, Feddermann-Demont N, Brugger P, Verhagen E
Summary: There is an ongoing debate on the potential negative effect of contact sport participation on long-term neurocognitive performance due to inherent exposure to concussive and subconcussive head impacts. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether cognitive ageing is exacerbated in elite soccer players compared to the general population. Neurocognitive performance in 6 domains was compared between 240 elite soccer players and a normative sample from the general population (n = 585) using the computerised test battery CNS Vital Signs. We used two-way factorial ANOVA to analyse the interaction between age groups (15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49 years) and study population (female soccer players vs. norm sample) in their effects on neurocognitive performance. We found no significant interaction effect of age group and study population in five of six test domains. For processing speed, the effect of age was more pronounced in female soccer players (F = 16.89, p = .002). Further, there was a clear main effect of study population on neurocognitive performance with generally better scores in soccer players. Elite female soccer players generally performed better than the norm sample on tests of cognitive function, and further, cognitive ageing effects were similar in elite soccer players and controls in all but one domain. A lifespan approach may facilitate insightful future research regarding questions related to long-term neurocognitive health in contact sport athletes.

#2 Sex differences in mechanisms of head impacts in collegiate soccer athletes
Reference: Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2020 Feb 13;74:14-20. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2020.02.003. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Saunders TD, Le RK, Breedlove KM, Bradney DA, Bowman TG
Summary: There has been growing interest in head impacts related to sports participation due to potential long- and short-term consequences of head injuries. Our purpose was to compare head impact magnitude and frequency between men's and women's intercollegiate soccer players based on head impact mechanism. 28 collegiate soccer players (16 women: age = 19.94 (1.06) years, height = 163.75 (5.15) cm, mass = 61.21 (5.09) kg; 12 men: age = 20.25 (1.14) years, height = 180.34 (6.03) cm, mass = 74.09 (9.32) kg) wore xPatch (X2 Biosystems, Seattle, WA) head impact sensors and participated in this study. Each practice and game was video recorded in order to confirm head impacts. The independent variable was impact mechanism (head to head, head to body (other than head), head to ground, ball to head, goal to head, and combination). Sensors collected linear and rotational accelerations and frequency of head impacts per 1000 athlete exposures. Men were more likely to sustain head impacts than women (IRR = 1.74, CI95 = 1.59-1.92). The highest head impact incidence rate for men was head to body (IR = 611.68, CI95 = 553.11-670.25) while the highest impact incidence rate for women was ball to head (IR = 302.29, CI95 = 270.93-333.64). The interaction between sex and mechanism was significant for rotational accelerations (F4, 1720 = 3.757, P = .005, ω2 = 0.013) but not for linear accelerations (F4,1720 = 0.680, P = .606, ω2 < 0.001, 1 - β = 0.223). To reduce the frequency of head impacts in men, perhaps rules governing player to player contact should be more strictly enforced as these data confirm frequent player-to-head contact during soccer practices and games. Prevention efforts for women should be focused on limiting the amount of purposeful heading (planned contact between the head and ball) occurring during play especially since these impacts had higher magnitudes compared to men.

#3 Neurofilament light and tau in serum after head-impact exposure in soccer
Reference: Brain Inj. 2020 Feb 25:1-8. doi: 10.1080/02699052.2020.1725129. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Sandmo SB, Filipcik P, Cente M, Hanes J, Andersen TE, Straume-Naesheim TM, Bahr R
Summary: Blood-based biomarkers can provide valuable information on the effects of repetitive head impacts in sports. This study investigated if repetitive headers or accidental head impacts in soccer could cause structural brain injury, detected as an increase in serum neurofilament light (NfL) or tau. NfL and tau were measured in professional soccer players in pre-season. Then, the effect of three short-term exposures on biomarker levels was assessed: (1) high-intensity exercise, (2) repetitive headers, and (3) head impacts in a match. We analyzed 354 samples and observed no effects on NfL from any of the three short-term exposures. Tau levels rose significantly from baseline to 1 h after (1) high-intensity exercise (Δ0.50 pg/mL, 95% CI 0.19-0.81, p < .01); the same was observed after (2) repetitive headers (Δ0.29 pg/mL, 95% CI 0.10-0.48, p < .01), but not after (3) accidental head-impact incidents (Δ0.36 pg/mL, 95% CI -0.02-0.74, p = .06). The highest absolute values were seen 1 h after high-intensity exercise (mean±SD, 1.92 ± 0.83 pg/mL). NfL and tau in serum were unaffected by head impacts in soccer. Importantly, tau levels seem to rise in response to exercise, emphasizing the need for control groups. Our findings highlight important characteristics and limitations when using these biomarkers in sports.

#4 Effect of chronotype on motor skills specific to soccer in adolescent players
Reference: Chronobiol Int. 2020 Feb 24:1-12. doi: 10.1080/07420528.2020.1729787. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Roveda E, Mulè A, Galasso L, Castelli L, Scurati R, Michielon G, Esposito F, Caumo A, Montaruli A
Summary: Circadian rhythms influence daily behavior, psychological and physiological functions, as well as physical performance. Three chronotypes are distinguished according to the preferences people typically display for activity at certain times of day: Morning, Neither, and Evening types (M-, N- and E-types). The chronotype changes with age: eveningness tends to be stronger in youth and morningness in older age. The progressive shift toward eveningness during adolescence creates misalignment with morning society schedules and can lead to a deterioration in intellectual and physical performance. Soccer is one of the world's most popular sports practiced by adolescents and soccer workouts are usually held after school in the afternoon or evening. Performance in soccer is related to a host of factors, including physiological variables and motor skills that have a circadian variation. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of chronotype on motor skills specific to soccer, specifically whether agility, aerobic endurance, and explosive power differ among the three chronotypes in relation to the time of day. For this study 141 adolescent soccer players filled in the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (MEQ) for the assessment of chronotype. A subsample of 75 subjects, subdivided in M-types (n= 25), E-types (n= 25), and N-types (n= 25), performed three tests (Sargent Jump Test - SJT, Illinois Agility Test - IAT, and 6-Minutes Run Test - 6MRT) at a morning and an evening training session (9:00 am and 6:00 pm). Mixed ANOVA was used to test the interactions between chronotypes, physical performance, and time. On all tests, better performance during the morning than the evening session was observed for the M-types (p< .05), whereas the E-types performed better in the evening than in the morning session (p< .05), and no differences in test performance were detected for the N-types. These findings underline the importance of a correct chronobiological approach to sports training. Scheduling training sessions according to an athlete's circadian preferences could be a valid strategy to enhance performance.

#5 Can Participation in a Community Organized Football Program Improve Social, Behavioural Functioning and Communication in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder? A Pilot Study
Reference: J Autism Dev Disord. 2020 Feb 27. doi: 10.1007/s10803-020-04423-5. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Howells K, Sivaratnam C, Lindor E, Hyde C, McGillivray J, Whitehouse A, Rinehart N
Summary: This pilot research investigated the effects of a community-based organized football program on behavioral, social and communicative outcomes in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. In a non-randomized design, 19 children completed the football program and were compared pre- and post-intervention with 21 children who received no comparable intervention (ages 5-12 years). Caregiver-report using the child behavior checklist indicated a significant decrease in total, internalizing, DSM-oriented anxiety and social problems for children who participated in the program, with no change in the comparison group. There were no group differences in socialization and communication scores on the Vineland Adaptive Behavior scale. Results provide preliminary evidence in support of the program, justifying the need for further, more rigorous trials in this area.

#6 Effect of Acute Sleep Hygiene on Salivary Cortisol Level Following A Late Night Soccer-Specific Training Session
Reference: J Sports Sci Med. 2020 Feb 24;19(1):235-236. eCollection 2020 Mar.
Authors: Bonato M, Merati G, La Torre A, Saresella M, Marvetano I, Banfi G, Vitale JA
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#7 Isoinertial Eccentric-Overload Training in Young Soccer Players: Effects on Strength, Sprint, Change of Direction, Agility and Soccer Shooting Precision
Reference: J Sports Sci Med. 2020 Feb 24;19(1):213-223. eCollection 2020 Mar.
Authors: Fiorilli G, Mariano I, Iuliano E, Giombini A, Ciccarelli A, Buonsenso A, Calcagno G, di Cagno A
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Summary: The isoinertial training method owes its efficacy to an accommodated resistance and optimal individualized eccentric overload. The aim of this study was to assess the effects of a 6-week isoinertial eccentric-overload training program - using a flywheel inertial device during the execution of specific soccer exercises - on explosive and reactive strength, sprint ability, change of direction (COD) performance and soccer shooting precision. Thirty-four junior soccer players were randomly assigned to a plyometric training group (PT) (n = 16, aged 13.36 ± 0.80), which underwent a six-week traditional soccer training program, and a flywheel eccentric overload group (FEO) (n = 18, aged 13.21 ± 1.21), which received additional training consisting of two inertial eccentric-overload training sessions per week. Pre and post intervention tests were carried out to assess explosive and reactive strength, sprint ability, COD ability, agility using the Y-agility test (YT) and soccer shooting precision. The FEO showed significantly higher values than the PT in squat jump height (SJh) (p = 0.01), drop jump height (DJh) (p = 0.003), 7 repeated hop test heights (p = 0.001), the Illinois test (ILL) (p = 0.001), and the Loughborough Soccer Shooting Test (SHOT) (p = 0.02). Finally, the FEO showed significant between-group differences in DJh (p = 0.007), ILL (p = 0.0002), YT (p = 0.002), a linear sprint test (SPRINT) (p = 0.001), and SHOT (p = 0.003). These results confirmed the positive effect of isoinertial training. The use of an isoinertial device to overload multidirectional movements in specific sport conditions leads to greater performance improvements than conventional soccer training. The absence of knowledge of the eccentric overload applied by the isoinertial device, which is different in any exercise repetition, may stimulate the athlete's neural adaptations, improving their soccer skills and in particular their soccer shooting precision.

#8 Match Situations Leading to Head Injuries in Professional Male Football (Soccer)-A Video-Based Analysis Over 12 Years
Reference: Clin J Sport Med. 2020 Mar;30 Suppl 1:S47-S52. doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000572.
Authors: Beaudouin F, Aus der Fünten K, Tröß T, Reinsberger C, Meyer T
Summary: The purpose was to identify risk situations promoting head injuries in professional male football (soccer) and to investigate the impact of a rule change in 2006 punishing elbow-head contacts. Professional football players of the first male German Bundesliga participated in this investigation. Observational criteria of head impacts on video recordings (players' actions preceding head injuries, foul play-referee's decision and assessment of rater, ball possession, on-pitch medical treatment, and consequences of head impact) were used as outcome measures. Three hundred thirty-four head injuries were reported in kicker Sportmagazin corresponding to an incidence rate of 2.25 (95% confidence interval 2.01-2.51) per 1000 player match hours. The injured player predominantly jumped (60%), headed the ball (36%), or ran forwards (20%); the noninjured players mainly jumped (64%), headed the ball (27%), or raised the elbow to the head (23%). Free ball situations (2 players challenge for the ball) caused most of the head injuries (81%). The players' action "raising the elbow" during a head injury seemed to be lower after the rule change. Jumping for the ball with the intention of heading is the predominant action associated with head injury risk. Head injuries occur most often when players challenge for the ball in a header duel. As head injuries bear the potential risk of long-term health sequelae, the identification of situational circumstances is essential to develop preventative means in the future.

#10 Sex differences in bone density, geometry, and bone strength of competitive soccer players

Reference: J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2020 Mar 3;20(1):62-76.
Authors: Baker BS, Chen Z, Larson RD, Bemben MG, Bemben DA
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Summary: The purpose was to examine sex differences in bone characteristics in competitive soccer players. 43 soccer players (male, n=23; female, n=20), and 43 matched controls (males, n=23; females, n=20), completed the study. Areal BMD (aBMD) of the total body, lumbar spine, and dual femur and tibiae volumetric BMD (vBMD), bone geometry, and bone strength variables (pQCT) were measured. Bone-specific physical activity and training history were assessed. Male soccer players had significantly greater (p≤0.05) total body and hip aBMD, hip strength indices and 4% and 38% tibia variables than females. Regression analyses determined that BFLBM, not sex, was the strongest predictor of bone variables. Female soccer players exhibited significantly greater percent differences from controls for tibiae variables than males (p≤0.05). Soccer players had greater aBMD and hip strength indices than controls (p≤0.040). Soccer-specific asymmetries were found for 38% total area (2.1%) and pSSI (3.8%), favoring the non-dominant leg (both p≤0.017). Bone characteristics adjusted for body size were greater in male versus female soccer players. However, body composition variables were more important predictors of bone characteristics than sex. There were no sex differences in the magnitude of limb asymmetries, suggesting skeletal responsiveness to mechanical loading was similar in males and females.

#11 Video Confirmation of Head Impact Sensor Data From High School Soccer Players
Reference: Am J Sports Med. 2020 Mar 4:363546520906406. doi: 10.1177/0363546520906406. [Epub ahead of print]
Authors: Patton DA, Huber CM, McDonald CC, Margulies SS, Master CL, Arbogast KB
Summary: Recent advances in technology have enabled the development of head impact sensors, which provide a unique opportunity for sports medicine researchers to study head kinematics in contact sports. Studies have suggested that video or observer confirmation of head impact sensor data is required to remove false positives. In addition, manufacturer filtering algorithms may be ineffective in identifying true positives and removing true negatives. The aims were to (1) identify the percentage of video-confirmed events recorded by headband-mounted sensors in high school soccer through video analysis, overall and by sex; (2) compare video-confirmed events with the classification by the manufacturer filtering algorithms; and (3) quantify and compare the kinematics of true- and false-positive events. Adolescent female and male soccer teams were instrumented with headband-mounted impact sensors (SIM-G; Triax Technologies) during games over 2 seasons of suburban high school competition. Sensor data were sequentially reduced to remove events recorded outside of game times, associated with players not on the pitch (ie, field) and players outside the field of view of the camera. With video analysis, the remaining sensor-recorded events were identified as an impact event, trivial event, or nonevent. The mechanisms of impact events were identified. The classifications of sensor-recorded events by the SIM-G algorithm were analyzed. A total of 6796 sensor events were recorded during scheduled varsity game times, of which 1893 (20%) were sensor-recorded events associated with players on the pitch in the field of view of the camera during verified game times. Most video-confirmed events were impact events (n = 1316, 70%), followed by trivial events (n = 396, 21%) and nonevents (n = 181, 10%). Female athletes had a significantly higher percentage of trivial events and nonevents with a significantly lower percentage of impact events. Most impact events were head-to-ball impacts (n = 1032, 78%), followed by player contact (n = 144, 11%) and falls (n = 129, 10%) with no significant differences between male and female teams. The SIM-G algorithm correctly identified 70%, 52%, and 66% of video-confirmed impact events, trivial events, and nonevents, respectively. Video confirmation is critical to the processing of head impact sensor data. Percentages of video-confirmed impact events, trivial events, and nonevents vary by sex in high school soccer. Current manufacturer filtering algorithms and magnitude thresholds are ineffective at correctly classifying sensor-recorded events and should be used with caution.

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