Sparta Science began largely with the goal to identify evidence based training and rehabilitation methods. In order to do this, we borrowed concepts from medicine to allow us validate different diagnostic tools and treatment protocols. The medical model utilizes objective data in pursuit of scientific truth. While we don’t necessarily want to compare the stakes of life and death to wins and losses, understanding their process and applying it to other avenues of research is the most effective way to begin this pursuit of truth.
While reading current research and understanding basic statistical terminology are extremely important for practitioners, there are many limitations to most sports science research. Small sample sizes, non-applicable populations, short term data collection, limited funding, IRB approval, lack of compliance, and lack of transparency (the hope of finding a competitive advantage) are all very real limitations that have slowed advances sport science research. Even when we accept these limitations, much of the research that exists is hardly practical or actionable (not to mention conflicting), leading to a disconnect between academia and the applied world. Perhaps because the consequences aren’t life or death, the need to approach the problem in a different way is often met with resistance instead of urgency.
In medicine, this process starts by creating a system to standardize data collection to ensure reliable data is collected. This standardization not only safeguards the quality of our data, but forces us to create practical and repeatable methods. The practicality allows consistent and longitudinal data collection, while the repeatability gives us a scalable process for the aggregation of this data across locations. The sample sizes of 15-20 in current sports science research are quickly dwarfed as we create databases of thousands of patients with hundreds of thousands of data points from patients all over the world. Only on this scale can we create the statistical power to even begin to tease out insights to find the answers we seek.
A recent study powered by the Sparta Science team in collaboration with the University of the Pacific entitled Improving Vertical Jump Profiles Through Prescribed Movement Plans has been accepted into the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Utilizing these medical concepts, we have analyzed data from an unprecedented 2,425 athletes over a four year period. Internally we have ran (and continue to run) these types of analyses for years, looking to find diagnostic insights for injury and performance outcomes, as well as identifying best practices for treatments and training interventions. By working with 3rd party University mathematics professors we work to avoid forcing assumptions and hypotheses and go into the projects with the intent to learn. These analyses have guided our philosophies, utilizing a feedback loop we simply follow the data to allow us to continue to learn and refine best practices.
The study can be read in its entirety here, as well as a brief summary below. For those of you who have followed Sparta for years, the findings are pretty consistent with previous analyses. It is, however, the novel methods and depth of data that we hope may reframe how practitioners think of what sports science is, and what it could be.
- Changes to Scan Jump Variables (LOAD, EXPLODE, and DRIVE) were highly correlated with different strength movement assignments and appear to be consistent across genders, sports, and level of competitiveness.
- Split Squats and Split Squats and 1-Leg Deadlift were found to significantly increase DRIVE and decrease LOAD and EXPLODE.
- Deadlift and Squat and Deadlift were found to significantly improve EXPLODE.
- Squat and Deadlift were found to significantly improve LOAD and EXPLODE.
As we continue to partner with more athletic, military, and medical organizations our database continues to grow exponentially, which will allow even further insights. As scientists we reserve the right to change our beliefs as we continue to learn in the never-ending pursuit of truth. As practitioners we pledge to identify the most practical and actionable insights to help others in their pursuits as well.
New to Sparta? More about LOAD, EXPLODE, and DRIVE