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Open access

The Research Doesn’t Always Apply: Practical Solutions to Evidence-Based Training-Load Monitoring in Elite Team Sports

Darren J. Burgess

Research describing load-monitoring techniques for team sport is plentiful. Much of this research is conducted retrospectively and typically involves recreational or semielite teams. Load-monitoring research conducted on professional team sports is largely observational. Challenges exist for the practitioner in implementing peer-reviewed research into the applied setting. These challenges include match scheduling, player adherence, manager/coach buy-in, sport traditions, and staff availability. External-load monitoring often attracts questions surrounding technology reliability and validity, while internal-load monitoring makes some assumptions about player adherence, as well as having some uncertainty around the impact these measures have on player performance This commentary outlines examples of load-monitoring research, discusses the issues associated with the application of this research in an elite team-sport setting, and suggests practical adjustments to the existing research where necessary.

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Talent Development in Adolescent Team Sports: A Review

Darren J. Burgess and Geraldine A. Naughton

Traditional talent development pathways for adolescents in team sports follow talent identification procedures based on subjective games ratings and isolated athletic assessment. Most talent development models are exclusive rather than inclusive in nature. Subsequently, talent identification may result in discontentment, premature stratification, or dropout from team sports. Understanding the multidimensional differences among the requirements of adolescent and elite adult athletes could provide more realistic goals for potential talented players. Coach education should include adolescent development, and rewards for team success at the adolescent level should reflect the needs of long-term player development. Effective talent development needs to incorporate physical and psychological maturity, the relative age effect, objective measures of game sense, and athletic prowess. The influences of media and culture on the individual, and the competing time demands between various competitions for player training time should be monitored and mediated where appropriate. Despite the complexity, talent development is a worthy investment in professional team sport.

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Seasonal Training-Load Quantification in Elite English Premier League Soccer Players

James J. Malone, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Darren Burgess, James P. Morton, and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players of the English Premier League.

Methods:

Thirty players were sampled (using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) during the daily training sessions of the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across 6 × 1-wk microcycles. In-season data were analyzed across 6 × 6-wk mesocycle blocks and 3 × 1-wk microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed with respect to number of days before a match.

Results:

Typical daily training load (ie, total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate [%HRmax], RPE load) did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th. %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3−5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Furthermore, training load was lower on the day before match (MD-1) than 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) d before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions:

The authors provide the 1st report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players and observed that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1 (regardless of mesocycle), whereas no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are facilitative of optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

Open access

Monitoring Athlete Training Loads: Consensus Statement

Pitre C. Bourdon, Marco Cardinale, Andrew Murray, Paul Gastin, Michael Kellmann, Matthew C. Varley, Tim J. Gabbett, Aaron J. Coutts, Darren J. Burgess, Warren Gregson, and N. Timothy Cable

Monitoring the load placed on athletes in both training and competition has become a very hot topic in sport science. Both scientists and coaches routinely monitor training loads using multidisciplinary approaches, and the pursuit of the best methodologies to capture and interpret data has produced an exponential increase in empirical and applied research. Indeed, the field has developed with such speed in recent years that it has given rise to industries aimed at developing new and novel paradigms to allow us to precisely quantify the internal and external loads placed on athletes and to help protect them from injury and ill health. In February 2016, a conference on “Monitoring Athlete Training Loads—The Hows and the Whys” was convened in Doha, Qatar, which brought together experts from around the world to share their applied research and contemporary practices in this rapidly growing field and also to investigate where it may branch to in the future. This consensus statement brings together the key findings and recommendations from this conference in a shared conceptual framework for use by coaches, sport-science and -medicine staff, and other related professionals who have an interest in monitoring athlete training loads and serves to provide an outline on what athlete-load monitoring is and how it is being applied in research and practice, why load monitoring is important and what the underlying rationale and prospective goals of monitoring are, and where athlete-load monitoring is heading in the future.

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Muscle Glycogen Utilization During an Australian Rules Football Game

Harry E. Routledge, Jill J. Leckey, Matt J. Lee, Andrew Garnham, Stuart Graham, Darren Burgess, Louise M. Burke, Robert M. Erskine, Graeme L. Close, and James P. Morton

Purpose: To better understand the carbohydrate (CHO) requirement of Australian Football (AF) match play by quantifying muscle glycogen utilization during an in-season AF match. Methods: After a 24-h CHO-loading protocol of 8 and 2 g/kg in the prematch meal, 2 elite male forward players had biopsies sampled from m. vastus lateralis before and after participation in a South Australian Football League game. Player A (87.2 kg) consumed water only during match play, whereas player B (87.6 kg) consumed 88 g CHO via CHO gels. External load was quantified using global positioning system technology. Results: Player A completed more minutes on the ground (115 vs 98 min) and covered greater total distance (12.2 vs 11.2 km) than player B, although with similar high-speed running (837 vs 1070 m) and sprinting (135 vs 138 m). Muscle glycogen decreased by 66% in player A (pre: 656 mmol/kg dry weight [dw], post: 223 mmol/kg dw) and 24% in player B (pre: 544 mmol/kg dw, post: 416 mmol/kg dw). Conclusion: Prematch CHO loading elevated muscle glycogen concentrations (ie, >500 mmol/kg dw), the magnitude of which appears sufficient to meet the metabolic demands of elite AF match play. The glycogen cost of AF match play may be greater than in soccer and rugby, and CHO feeding may also spare muscle glycogen use. Further studies using larger sample sizes are now required to quantify the interindividual variability of glycogen cost of match play (including muscle and fiber-type-specific responses), as well examining potential metabolic and ergogenic effects of CHO feeding.