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Purpose: To examine responses to a simulated rugby league protocol designed to include more stochastic commands, and therefore require greater vigilance, than traditional team-sport simulation protocols. Methods: Eleven male university rugby players completed 2 trials (randomized and control [CON]) of a rugby league movement simulation protocol, separated by 7 to 10 d. The CON trial consisted of 48 repeated ∼115-s cycles of activity. The stochastic simulation (STOCH) was matched for the number and types of activity performed every 5.45 min in CON but included no repeated cycles of activity. Movement using GPS, heart rate, rating of perceived exertion, and Stroop test performance was assessed throughout. Maximum voluntary contraction peak torque, voluntary activation (in percentage), and global task load were assessed after exercise. Results: The mean mental demand of STOCH was higher than CON (effect size [ES] = 0.56; ±0.69). Mean sprint speed was higher in STOCH (22.5 [1.4] vs 21.6 [1.6] km·h−1, ES = 0.50; ±0.55), which was accompanied by a higher rating of perceived exertion (14.3 [1.0] vs 13.0 [1.4], ES = 0.87; ±0.67) and a greater number of errors in the Stroop test (10.3 [2.5] vs 9.3 [1.4] errors; ES = 0.65; ±0.83). Maximum voluntary contraction peak torque (CON = −48.4 [31.6] N·m and STOCH = −39.6 [36.6] N·m) and voluntary activation (CON = −8.3% [4.8%] and STOCH = −6.0% [4.1%]) was similarly reduced in both trials. Conclusions: Providing more stochastic commands, which requires greater vigilance, might alter performance and associated physiological, perceptual, and cognitive responses to team-sport simulations.
The authors are with the University of Chester, Chester, United Kingdom. Highton is with the Dept of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the university.