The current study examined the acute and longitudinal effects of regular away travel on training load (TL), player wellness, and injury surrounding competitive football (soccer) matches. Eighteen male professional football players, representing a team competing in the highest national competition in Australia, volunteered to participate in the study. Training loads, player wellness and injury incidence, rate, severity, and type, together with the activity at the time of injury, were recorded on the day before, the day of, and for 4 d after each of the 27 matches of the 2012−13 season. This included 14 home and 13 away matches, further subdivided based on the midpoint of the season into early (1−13) and late competition (14−27) phases. While TLs were significantly greater on day 3 at home compared with away during the early competition phase (P = .03), no other significant effects of match location were identified (P > .05). Total TL and mean wellness over the 6 d surrounding matches and TL on day 3 were significantly reduced during the late compared with the early competition phase at home and away (P < .05). Although not significantly (P > .05), training missed due to injury was 60% and 50% greater during the late than during the early competition phase at home and away, respectively. In conclusion, no significant interactions between match location and competition phase were evident during the late competition phase, which suggests that away travel had negligible cumulative effects on the reduction in player wellness in the latter half of the season.
Peter Fowler, Rob Duffield, Adam Waterson and Joanna Vaile
Peter Fowler, Rob Duffield, Kieran Howle, Adam Waterson and Joanna Vaile
The current study examined the effects of 10-h northbound air travel across 1 time zone on sleep quantity, together with subjective jet lag and wellness ratings, in 16 male professional Australian football (soccer) players. Player wellness was measured throughout the week before (home training week) and the week of (away travel week) travel from Australia to Japan for a preseason tour. Sleep quantity and subjective jet lag were measured 2 d before (Pre 1 and 2), the day of, and for 5 d after travel (Post 1–5). Sleep duration was significantly reduced during the night before travel (Pre 1; 4.9 [4.2−5.6] h) and night of competition (Post 2; 4.2 [3.7−4.7] h) compared with every other night (P < .01, d > 0.90). Moreover, compared with the day before travel, subjective jet lag was significantly greater for the 5 d after travel (P < .05, d > 0.90), and player wellness was significantly lower 1 d postmatch (Post 3) than at all other time points (P < .05, d > 0.90). Results from the current study suggest that sleep disruption, as a result of an early travel departure time (8 PM) and evening match (7:30 PM), and fatigue induced by competition had a greater effect on wellness ratings than long-haul air travel with a minimal time-zone change. Furthermore, subjective jet lag may have been misinterpreted as fatigue from sleep disruption and competition, especially by the less experienced players. Therefore, northbound air travel across 1 time zone from Australia to Asia appears to have negligible effects on player preparedness for subsequent training and competition.
Andrew D. Govus, Aaron Coutts, Rob Duffield, Andrew Murray and Hugh Fullagar
Context: The relationship between pretraining subjective wellness and external and internal training load in American college football is unclear. Purpose : To examine the relationship of pretraining subjective wellness (sleep quality, muscle soreness, energy, wellness Z score) with player load and session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE-TL) in American college football players. Methods: Subjective wellness (measured using 5-point, Likert-scale questionnaires), external load (derived from GPS and accelerometry), and s-RPE-TL were collected during 3 typical training sessions per week for the second half of an American college football season (8 wk). The relationship of pretraining subjective wellness with player load and s-RPE training load was analyzed using linear mixed models with a random intercept for athlete and a random slope for training session. Standardized mean differences (SMDs) denote the effect magnitude. Results: A 1-unit increase in wellness Z score and energy was associated with trivial 2.3% (90% confidence interval [CI] 0.5, 4.2; SMD 0.12) and 2.6% (90% CI 0.1, 5.2; SMD 0.13) increases in player load, respectively. A 1-unit increase in muscle soreness (players felt less sore) corresponded to a trivial 4.4% (90% CI −8.4, −0.3; SMD −0.05) decrease in s-RPE training load. Conclusion: Measuring pretraining subjective wellness may provide information about players’ capacity to perform in a training session and could be a key determinant of their response to the imposed training demands American college football. Hence, monitoring subjective wellness may aid in the individualization of training prescription in American college football players.
Cyril Schmit, Rob Duffield, Christophe Hausswirth, Aaron J. Coutts and Yann Le Meur
To describe the effect of the initial perceptual experience from heat familiarization on the pacing profile during a freepaced endurance time trial (TT) compared with temperate conditions.
Two groups of well-trained triathletes performed two 20-km TTs in either hot (35°C and 50% relative humidity [RH], n = 12) or temperate (21°C and 50% RH, n = 22) conditions, after standardization of training for each group before both trials. To ensure no physiological acclimation differences between conditions, the TTs for both groups were separated by 11 ± 4 d.
Performance improvement in the heat (11 ± 24 W) from the 1st to 2nd trial appeared comparable to that in temperate conditions (8 ± 14 W, P = .67). However, the specific alteration in pacing profile in the heat was markedly different than temperate conditions, with a change from “positive” to an “even” pacing strategy.
Altered perceptions of heat during heat familiarization, rather than physiological acclimatization per se, may mediate initial changes in pacing and TT performance in the heat. These results highlight the need for athletes without time for sufficient heat acclimatization to familiarize themselves with hot conditions to reduce the uncertainty from behavior-based outcomes that may impede performance.
Peter M. Fowler, Rob Duffield, Donna Lu, Jeremy A. Hickmans and Tannath J. Scott
To examine the effects of 24-h travel west across 11 time zones on subjective jet-lag and wellness responses together with self-reported sleep and upper respiratory symptoms in 18 professional rugby league players.
Measures were obtained 1 or 2 d before (pretravel) and 2, 6, and 8 d after travel (post-2, post-6, and post-8) from Australia to the United Kingdom (UK) for the 2015 World Club Series.
Compared with pretravel, subjective jet-lag remained significantly elevated on post-8 (3.1 ± 2.3, P < .05, d > 0.90), although it was greatest on post-2 (4.1 ± 1.4). Self-reported sleep-onset times were significantly earlier on post-2 than at all other time points (P < .05, d > 0.90), and large effect sizes suggested that wake times were earlier on post-2 than on post-6 and post-8 (d > 0.90). Although significantly more upper respiratory symptoms were reported on post-6 than at pretravel (P < .05, d ˃ 0.90), no incidence of injury and negligible changes in wellness and muscle strength and range of motion (P > .05, d < 0.90) were evident after travel.
Results suggest that westward long-haul travel between Australia and the UK exacerbates subjective jet-lag and sleep responses, along with upper respiratory symptoms, in professional rugby league players. Of note, the increase in self-reported upper respiratory symptoms is a reminder that the demands of long-haul travel may be an additional concern in jet-lag for traveling athletes. However, due to the lack of sport-specific performance measures, it is still unclear whether international travel interferes with training to the extent that subsequent competition performance is impaired.
Hugh H.K. Fullagar, Rob Duffield, Sabrina Skorski, David White, Jonathan Bloomfield, Sarah Kölling and Tim Meyer
The current study examined the sleep, travel, and recovery responses of elite footballers during and after long-haul international air travel, with a further description of these responses over the ensuing competitive tour (including 2 matches).
In an observational design, 15 elite male football players undertook 18 h of predominantly westward international air travel from the United Kingdom to South America (–4-h time-zone shift) for a 10-d tour. Objective sleep parameters, external and internal training loads, subjective player match performance, technical match data, and perceptual jet-lag and recovery measures were collected.
Significant differences were evident between outbound travel and recovery night 1 (night of arrival; P < .001) for sleep duration. Sleep efficiency was also significantly reduced during outbound travel compared with recovery nights 1 (P = .001) and 2 (P = .004). Furthermore, both match nights (5 and 10), showed significantly less sleep than nonmatch nights 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 (all P < .001). No significant differences were evident between baseline and any time point for all perceptual measures of jet-lag and recovery (P > .05), although large effects were evident for jet-lag on d 2 (2 d after arrival).
Sleep duration is truncated during long-haul international travel with a 4-h time-zone delay and after night matches in elite footballers. However, this lost sleep appeared to have a limited effect on perceptual recovery, which may be explained by a westbound flight and a relatively small change in time zones, in addition to the significant increase in sleep duration on the night of arrival after the long-haul flight.
Hugh H.K. Fullagar, Rob Duffield, Sabrina Skorski, Aaron J. Coutts, Ross Julian and Tim Meyer
While the effects of sleep loss on performance have previously been reviewed, the effects of disturbed sleep on recovery after exercise are less reported. Specifically, the interaction between sleep and physiological and psychological recovery in team-sport athletes is not well understood. Accordingly, the aim of the current review was to examine the current evidence on the potential role sleep may play in postexercise recovery, with a tailored focus on professional team-sport athletes. Recent studies show that team-sport athletes are at high risk of poor sleep during and after competition. Although limited published data are available, these athletes also appear particularly susceptible to reductions in both sleep quality and sleep duration after night competition and periods of heavy training. However, studies examining the relationship between sleep and recovery in such situations are lacking. Indeed, further observational sleep studies in team-sport athletes are required to confirm these concerns. Naps, sleep extension, and sleep-hygiene practices appear advantageous to performance; however, future proof-of-concept studies are now required to determine the efficacy of these interventions on postexercise recovery. Moreover, more research is required to understand how sleep interacts with numerous recovery responses in team-sport environments. This is pertinent given the regularity with which these teams encounter challenging scenarios during the course of a season. Therefore, this review examines the factors that compromise sleep during a season and after competition and discusses strategies that may help improve sleep in team-sport athletes.
Melissa Skein, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, Alanna Snape and Alistair Murphy
This study examined the effects of overnight sleep deprivation on recovery after competitive rugby league matches.
Eleven male amateur rugby league players played 2 competitive matches, followed by either a normal night’s sleep (~8 h; CONT) or a sleep-deprived night (~0 h; SDEP) in a randomized fashion. Testing was conducted the morning of the match, immediately postmatch, 2 h postmatch, and the next morning (16 h postmatch). Measures included countermovement-jump (CMJ) distance, knee-extensor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and voluntary activation (VA), venous-blood creatine kinase (CK) and C-reactive protein (CRP), perceived muscle soreness, and a word–color recognition cognitive-function test. Percent change between postmatch and 16-h postmatch was reported to determine the effect of the intervention the next morning.
Large effects indicated a greater postmatch to 16-h-postmatch percentage decline in CMJ distance after SDEP than in CONT (P = .10–.16, d = 0.95–1.05). Similarly, the percentage decline in incongruent word–color reaction times was increased in SDEP trials (P = .007, d = 1.75). Measures of MVC did not differ between conditions (P = .40–.75, d = 0.13–0.33), although trends for larger percentage decline in VA were detected in SDEP (P = .19, d = 0.84). Furthermore, large effects indicated higher CK and CRP responses 16 h postmatch in SDEP than in CONT (P = .11–.87, d = 0.80–0.88).
Sleep deprivation negatively affected recovery after a rugby league match, specifically impairing CMJ distance and cognitive function. Practitioners should promote adequate postmatch sleep patterns or adjust training demands the next day to accommodate the altered physical and cognitive state after sleep deprivation.
Cyril Schmit, Rob Duffield, Christophe Hausswirth, Jeanick Brisswalter and Yann Le Meur
Purpose: To determine the effect of high- versus low-intensity training in the heat and ensuing taper period in the heat on endurance performance. Methods: In total, 19 well-trained triathletes undertook 5 days of normal training and a 1-wk taper including either low- (heat acclimation [HA-L], n = 10) or high-intensity (HA-H, n = 9) training sessions in the heat (30°C, 50% relative humidity). A control group (n = 10) reproduced their usual training in thermoneutral conditions. Indoor 20-km cycling time trials (35°C, 50% relative humidity) were performed before (Pre) and after the main heat exposure (Mid) and after the taper (Post). Results: Power output remained stable in the control group from Pre to Mid (effect size: −0.10 [0.26]) and increased from Mid to Post (0.18 [0.22]). The HA-L group demonstrated a progressive increase in performance from Pre to Mid (0.62 [0.33]) and from Mid to Post (0.53 [0.30]), alongside typical physiological signs of HA (reduced core temperature and heart rate and increased body-mass loss). While the HA-H group presented similar adaptations, increased perceived fatigue and decreased performance at Mid (−0.35 [0.26]) were evidenced and reversed at Post (0.50 [0.20]). No difference in power output was reported at Post between the HA-H and control groups. Conclusion: HA-H can quickly induce functional overreaching in nonacclimatized endurance athletes. As it was associated with a weak subsequent performance supercompensation, coaches and athletes should pay particular attention to training monitoring during a final preparation in the heat and reduce training intensity when early signs of functional overreaching are identified.
Rob Duffield, Johann Edge, Robert Merrells, Emma Hawke, Matt Barnes, David Simcock and Nicholas Gill
The aim of this study was to determine whether compression garments improve intermittent-sprint performance and aid performance or self-reported recovery from high-intensity efforts on consecutive days.
Following familiarization, 14 male rugby players performed two randomized testing conditions (with or without garments) involving consecutive days of a simulated team sport exercise protocol, separated by 24 h of recovery within each condition and 2 weeks between conditions. Each day involved an 80-min high-intensity exercise circuit, with exercise performance determined by repeated 20-m sprints and peak power on a cart dynamometer (single-man scrum machine). Measures of nude mass, heart rate, skin and tympanic temperature, and blood lactate (La−) were recorded throughout each day; also, creatine kinase (CK) and muscle soreness were recorded each day and 48 h following exercise.
No differences (P = .20 to 0.40) were present between conditions on either day of the exercise protocol for repeated 20-m sprint efforts or peak power on a cart dynamometer. Heart rate, tympanic temperature, and body mass did not significantly differ between conditions; however, skin temperature was higher under the compression garments. Although no differences (P = .50) in La− or CK were present, participants felt reduced levels of perceived muscle soreness in the ensuing 48 h postexercise when wearing the garments (2.5 ± 1.7 vs 3.5 ± 2.1 for garment and control; P = .01).
The use of compression garments did not improve or hamper simulated team-sport activity on consecutive days. Despite benefits of reduced self-reported muscle soreness when wearing garments during and following exercise each day, no improvements in performance or recovery were apparent.