A Novel Method of Assessment for Monitoring Neuromuscular Fatigue in Australian Rules Football Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To compare the sensitivity of a submaximal run test (SRT) with a countermovement-jump test (CMJ) to provide an alternative method of measuring neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) in high-performance sport. Methods: A total of 23 professional and semiprofessional Australian rules football players performed an SRT and CMJ test prematch and 48 and 96 h postmatch. Variables from accelerometers recorded during the SRT were player load 1D up (vertical vector), player load 1D side (mediolateral vector), and player load 1D forward (anteroposterior vector). Meaningful difference was examined through magnitude-based inferences (effect size [ES]), with reliability assessed as typical error of measurements expressed as coefficient of variance. Results: A small decrease in CMJ height, ES −0.43 ± 0.39 (likely), was observed 48 h postmatch before returning to baseline 96 h postmatch. This was accompanied by corresponding moderate decreases in the SRT variables player load 1D up, ES −0.60 ± 0.51 (likely), and player load 1D side, ES −0.74 ± 0.57 (likely), 48 h postmatch before also returning to prematch baseline. Conclusion: The results suggest that in the presence of NMF, players use an alternative running profile to produce the same external output (ie, time). This indicates that changes in accelerometer variables during an SRT can be used as an alternative method of measuring NMF in high-performance Australian rules football and provides a flexible option for monitoring changes in the recovery phase postmatch.

J. Garrett, Graham, Eston, Burgess, and Norton are with the Alliance for Research in Exercise, Nutrition and Activity, Sansom Inst for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia. J. Garrett, Graham, and Burgess are also with the Port Adelaide Football Club in Adelaide. L.J. Garrett is with the School of Science, RMIT University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Jakeman is with Sport and Health Science, Oxford Brooks University, Oxford, United Kingdom.

Joel Garrett (joel.garrett@mymail.unisa.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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