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Purpose: To compare the global positioning system– and accelerometry-derived running demands, creatine kinase (CK), and self-reported wellness during an Olympic Games in international hockey. Methods: Data were collected across 5 games during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Global positioning system units (10 Hz) were used to assess the running demands, accelerations, and decelerations of outfield players in a men’s hockey squad with matches 2 to 5 compared with match 1. CK was used as a marker of muscle damage, and self-reported psychometric questionnaires were used to assess wellness, with each of the 5 matches compared with precompetition assessments. Results: There were significant increases (P < .05) in either, or both, absolute and relative total distance, player load, high-speed running distance, sprint distance, and accelerations and decelerations, compared with baseline. There was a significant decrease (P < .05) in maximal velocity by match 5. CK significantly increased from match 1 to 5 and displayed significant correlations with total distance (r = .55) and player load (r = .41). Muscle soreness correlated with total distance and player load, with other wellness markers unchanged compared with baseline. Conclusions: International hockey athletes may maintain or increase running activities over the course of an Olympic tournament; however, this may be impacted by situational (match score/outcome) and environmental (ambient temperature) factors. Despite CK and muscle soreness displaying relationships with running variables, further work is needed to establish their individual value in monitoring international hockey athletes.
The authors are with the Sport & Exercise Science Research Inst, Ulster University, Belfast, United Kingdom.