Sport-Specific Assessment of the Effectiveness of Neuromuscular Training in Young Athletes

Neuromuscular training in young athletes improves performance and decreases the risk of injuries during sports activities. These effects are primarily ascribed to the enhancement of muscle strength and power but also balance, speed and agility. However, most studies have failed to demonstrate significant improvement in these abilities. This is probably due to the fact that traditional tests do not reflect training methods (e.g., plyometric training vs. isometric or isokinetic strength testing, dynamic balance training vs. static balance testing). The protocols utilized in laboratories only partially fulfill the current needs for testing under sport-specific conditions. Moreover, laboratory testing usually requires skilled staff and a well equipped and costly infrastructure. Nevertheless, experience demonstrates that high-technology and expensive testing is not the only way to proceed. A number of physical fitness field tests are available today. However, the low reliability and limited number of parameters retrieved from simple equipment used also limit their application in competitive sports. Thus, there is a need to develop and validate a functional assessment platform based on portable computerized systems. Variables obtained should be directly linked to specific features of particular sports and capture their complexity. This is essential for revealing weak and strong components of athlete performance and design of individually-tailored exercise programs. Therefore, identifying the drawbacks associated with the assessment of athlete performance under sport-specific conditions would provide a basis for the formation of an innovative approach to their long-term systematic testing. This study aims (i) to review the testing methods used for the evaluation of the effect of neuromuscular training on sport-specific performance in young athletes, (ii) to introduce stages within the Sport Longlife Diagnostic Model, and (iii) to propose future research in this topic. Analysis of the literature identified gaps in the current standard testing methods in terms of their low sensitivity in discriminating between athletes of varied ages and performance levels, insufficent tailoring to athlete performance level and individual needs, a lack of specificity to the requirements of particular sports and also in revealing the effect of training. In order to partly fill in these gaps, the Sport Longlife Diagnostic Model was proposed. 

Autor / Fonte:Erika Zemková, Dušan Hamar Frontiers in Physiology 2018, 9: 264