Purpose: To develop position-specific career performance trajectories and determine the age of peak performance of professional Australian Football players. Methods: Match performance data (Australian Football League [AFL] Player Rank) were collected for Australian Football players drafted via the AFL National Draft between 1999 and 2015 (N = 207). Players were subdivided into playing positions: forwards (n = 60; age 23  y), defenders (n = 71; age 24  y), midfielders (n = 58; age 24  y), and ruckmen (n = 18; age 24  y). Linear mixed models were fitted to the data to estimate individual career trajectories. Results: Forwards, midfielders, and defenders experienced peak match performance earlier than ruckmen (24–25 vs 27 y). Midfielders demonstrated the greatest between-subjects variability (intercept 0.580, age 0.0286) in comparison with ruckmen, who demonstrated the least variability (intercept 0.112, age 0.005) in AFL Player Rank throughout their careers. Age had the greatest influence on the career trajectory of midfielders (β [SE] = 0.226 [0.025], T = 9.10, P < .01) and the least effect on ruckmen (β [SE] = 0.114 [0.049], T = 2.30, P = .02). Conclusions: Professional Australian Football players peak in match performance between 24 and 27 years of age with age, having the greatest influence on the match performance of midfielders and the least on ruckmen.
Courtney Sullivan, Thomas Kempton, Patrick Ward and Aaron J. Coutts
Tom Toolis and Kerry McGawley
Purpose: To evaluate the effects of wearing upper- and lower-body compression garments on cross-country skiing performance in elite winter biathletes. Methods: A total of 7 senior biathletes (4 men and 3 women) from the Swedish national team performed 2 exercise trials in a randomized and counterbalanced order, wearing either commercially available upper- and lower-body compression garments (COMP) or a standard winter-biathlon racing suit (CON). In each trial, the athletes roller-skied on a customized treadmill, completing a time trial simulating the skiing duration of a biathlon sprint race, followed by a time-to-exhaustion test designed to elicit exhaustion within ∼60 to 90 seconds. Heart rate, blood lactate concentration, rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, and thermal comfort were monitored throughout each trial, while muscle soreness was measured up to 48 hours after each trial. Results: Pressure exerted by the clothing was significantly higher at all anatomical sites for COMP compared with CON (P ≤ .002). Wearing COMP led to small positive effects on time-trial (d = 0.31) and time-to-exhaustion test (d = 0.31) performances compared with CON, but these differences were not statistically significant (P > .05). No significant differences were found for any physiological (heart rate or blood lactate concentration) or subjective (rating of perceived exertion, thermal sensation, thermal comfort, or muscle soreness) responses between COMP and CON (P > .05). Conclusion: Wearing COMP during maximal cross-country skiing may have small but worthwhile beneficial effects on performance for some individuals. Due to individual variation, athletes are advised to test COMP prior to competition.
Faezeh Mohammadi Sanjani, Abbas Bahram, Moslem Bahmani, Mina Arvin and John van der Kamp
It has been shown that texting degrades driving performance, but the extent to which this is mediated by the driver’s age and postural stability has not been addressed. Hence, the present study examined the effects of texting, sitting surface stability, and balance training in young and older adults’ driving performance. Fifteen young (mean age = 24.3 years) and 13 older (mean age = 62.8 years) participants were tested in a driving simulator with and without texting on a smartphone and while sitting on a stable or unstable surface (i.e., a plastic wobble board), before and after a 30-min sitting balance training. Analyses of variance showed that texting deteriorated driving performance but irrespective of sitting surface stability. Balance training decreased the negative effects of texting on driving, especially in older adults. Perceived workload increased when drivers were texting, and balance training reduced perceived workload. Perceived workload was higher while sitting on the unstable surface, but less so after balance training. Path analyses showed that the effects on driving performance and perceived workload were (indirectly) associated with changes in postural stability (i.e., postural sway). The study confirms that texting threatens safe driving performance by challenging postural stability, especially in older adults. The study also suggests that it is important to further investigate the role balance training can play in reducing these negative effects of texting.
Fernando Pareja-Blanco, Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal, Beatriz Bachero-Mena, Ricardo Mora-Custodio, José Antonio Asián-Clemente, Irineu Loturco and David Rodríguez-Rosell
Purpose: This study aimed to compare the effects of unresisted versus heavy sled sprint training (0% vs 40% body mass [BM]) on sprint performance in women. Moreover, the effects of the aforementioned loads on resisted sprint and jump performance were analyzed. Methods: Twenty-eight physically active women were randomly allocated into 2 groups: unloaded sprint training group (G0%, n = 14), and resisted sprint training with 40% BM group (G40%, n = 14). Pretraining and posttraining assessments included countermovement jump, unloaded 30-m sprint, and 20-m sprint with 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM. Times to cover 0 to 10 (T10), 0 to 20 (T20), 0 to 30 (T30), 10 to 20 (T10–20), 20 to 30 (T20–30), and 10 to 30 m (T10–30) were recorded. Both groups were trained once a week for 8 weeks and completed the same training program, but with different loads (0% vs 40% BM). Results: No significant time × group interactions were observed. For unloaded sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .027) decreases only in T10–20, while G40% attained significant decreases in T30 (P = .021), T10–30 (P = .015), and T20–30 (P = .003). Regarding resisted sprint performance, G0% showed significant (P = .010) improvements only for the 20% BM condition. The G40% group attained significant improvements in all loading conditions (20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% BM). Both groups showed significant improvements (P < .001) in countermovement jump height. Conclusions: In physically active women, no significant differences in sprint and countermovement jump performance were detected after 8 weeks of resisted and unresisted sprint training programs. Future studies should, therefore, be devoted to how sprint training should be individualized to maximize performance.
Steven H. Doeven, Michel S. Brink, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Johan de Jong and Koen A.P.M. Lemmink
In elite basketball, players are exposed to intensified competition periods when participating in both national and international competitions. How coaches manage training between matches and in reference to match scheduling for a full season is not yet known. Purpose: First, to compare load during short-term match congestion (ie, ≥2-match weeks) with regular competition (ie, 1-match weeks) in elite male professional basketball players. Second, to determine changes in well-being, recovery, neuromuscular performance, and injuries and illnesses between short-term match congestion and regular competition. Methods: Sixteen basketball players (age 24.8 [2.0] y, height 195.8 [7.5] cm, weight 94.8 [14.0] kg, body fat 11.9% [5.0%], VO2max 51.9 [5.3] mL·kg−1·min−1) were monitored during a full season. Session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE) was obtained, and load was calculated (s-RPE × duration) for each training session or match. Perceived well-being (fatigue, sleep quality, general muscle soreness, stress levels, and mood) and total quality of recovery were assessed each training day. Countermovement jump height was measured, and a list of injuries and illnesses was collected weekly using the adapted Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center Questionnaire on Health Problems. Results: Total load (training sessions and matches; P < .001) and training load (P < .001) were significantly lower for ≥2-match weeks. Significantly higher well-being (P = .01) and less fatigue (P = .001) were found during ≥2-match weeks compared with 1-match weeks. Conclusion: Total load and training load were lower during short-term match congestion compared with regular competition. Furthermore, better well-being and less fatigue were demonstrated within short-term match congestion. This might indicate that coaches tend to overcompensate training load in intensified competition.