Physical Preparation Factors That Influence Technical and Physical Match Performance in Professional Australian Football

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Objectives: To examine the collective influence of a range of physical preparation elements on selected performance measures during Australian football match play. Design: Prospective and longitudinal. Methods: Data were collected from 34 professional Australian football players from the same club during the 2016 Australian Football League competition season. Match activity profiles and acute (7-d) and chronic (3-wk) training loads were collected using global positioning system devices. Training response was measured by well-being questionnaires completed prior to the main training session each week. Maximal aerobic running speed (MAS) was estimated by a 2-km time trial conducted during preseason. Coach ratings were collected from the senior coach and 4 assistants after each match on a 5-point Likert scale. Player ratings were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. Fifteen matches were analyzed. Linear mixed models were constructed to examine the collective influence of training-related factors on 4 performance measures. Results: Muscle soreness had a small positive effect (ES: 0.12) on Champion Data rating points. Three-week average high-speed running distance had a small negative effect (ES: 0.14) on coach ratings. MAS had large to moderate positive effects (ES: 0.55 to 0.47) on relative total and high-speed running distances. Acute total and chronic average total running distance had small positive (ES: 0.13) and negative (ES: 0.14) effects on relative total and high-speed running distance performed during matches, respectively. Conclusions: MAS should be developed to enhance players’ running performance during competition. Monitoring of physical preparation data may assist in reducing injury and illness and increasing player availability but not enhance football performance.

Ryan, Coutts, Dillon, and Kempton are with Human Performance Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney (UTS), Sydney, NSW, Australia. Ryan, Coutts, Hocking, Dillon, and Kempton are with Carlton Football Club, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Whitty is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia.

Ryan (sam.ryan@carltonfc.com.au) is corresponding author.
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