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  • Author: Andrew M. Stewart x
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Alireza Esmaeili, Andrew M. Stewart, William G. Hopkins, George P. Elias and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

Detrimental changes in tendon structure increase the risk of tendinopathies. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of individual internal and external training loads and leg dominance on changes in the Achilles and patellar tendon structure.

Methods:

The internal structure of the Achilles and patellar tendons of both limbs of 26 elite Australian footballers was assessed using ultrasound tissue characterization at the beginning and the end of an 18-wk preseason. Linear-regression analysis was used to estimate the effects of training load on changes in the proportion of aligned and intact tendon bundles for each side. Standardization and magnitude-based inferences were used to interpret the findings.

Results:

Possibly to very likely small increases in the proportion of aligned and intact tendon bundles occurred in the dominant Achilles (initial value 81.1%; change, ±90% confidence limits 1.6%, ±1.0%), nondominant Achilles (80.8%; 0.9%, ±1.0%), dominant patellar (75.8%; 1.5%, ±1.5%), and nondominant patellar (76.8%; 2.7%, ±1.4%) tendons. Measures of training load had inconsistent effects on changes in tendon structure; eg, there were possibly to likely small positive effects on the structure of the nondominant Achilles tendon, likely small negative effects on the dominant Achilles tendon, and predominantly no clear effects on the patellar tendons.

Conclusion:

The small and inconsistent effects of training load are indicative of the role of recovery between tendon-overloading (training) sessions and the multivariate nature of the tendon response to load, with leg dominance a possible influencing factor.

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Brendan H. Lazarus, William G. Hopkins, Andrew M. Stewart and Robert J. Aughey

Effects of fixture and team characteristics on match outcome in elite Australian football were quantified using data accessed at AFLtables.com for 5109 matches for seasons 2000 to 2013. Aspects of each match included number of days’ break between matches (≤7 d vs ≥8 d), location (home vs away), travel status (travel vs no travel), and differences between opposing teams’ mean age, body mass, and height (expressed as quintiles). A logistic-regression version of the generalized mixed linear model estimated each effect, which was assessed with magnitude-based inference using 1 extra win or loss in every 10 matches as the smallest important change. For every 10 matches played, the effects were days’ break, 0.1 ± 0.3 (90% CL) wins; playing away, 1.5 ± 0.6 losses; traveling, 0.7 ± 0.6 losses; and being in the oldest, heaviest, or shortest, quintile, 1.9 ± 0.4, 1.3 ± 0.4, and 0.4 ± 0.4 wins, respectively. The effects of age and body-mass difference were not reduced substantially when adjusted for each other. All effects were clear, mostly at the 99% level. The effects of playing away, travel, and age difference were not unexpected, but the trivial effect of days’ break and the advantage of a heavier team will challenge current notions about balancing training with recovery and about team selection.

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Amber E. Rowell, Robert J. Aughey, Will G. Hopkins, Andrew M. Stewart and Stuart J. Cormack

Objective measures of recovery from football match play could be useful for assessing athletes’ readiness to train, if sensitive to preceding match load.

Purpose:

To identify the sensitivity of countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance and concentration of salivary testosterone and cortisol relative to elite football match load.

Methods:

CMJ performance and salivary hormones were measured in 18 elite football players before (27, 1 h) and after (0.5, 18, 42, 66, 90 h) 3 consecutive matches. Match load was determined via accelerometer-derived PlayerLoad and divided into tertiles. Sensitivity of CMJ performance and hormone concentrations to match load was quantified with t statistics and magnitude-based inferences (change in mean as % ± 90% confidence interval) derived with a linear mixed model.

Results:

Jump height was reduced in medium and high load at 0.5 h (10% ± 7% and 16% ± 8%) and 18 h (7% ± 4% and 9% ± 5%) postmatch. There was a 12% ± 7% reduction in ratio of flight time to contraction time (FT:CT) in high load at 0.5 h post, with reductions in medium and high load at 18 h. Reductions in FT:CT persisted at later postmatch time points than changes in jump height. Increased cortisol (range 55–165%) and testosterone (range 17–20%) were observed in all match loads at 0.5 h post, with individual variability thereafter.

Conclusions:

Measures of CMJ performance and hormonal concentrations were sensitive to levels of A League football match load. Although jump height was reduced immediately postmatch, FT:CT provided a more sensitive measure of recovery. Football match play induces an acute hormonal response with substantial individual variability thereafter.

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Jace A. Delaney, Heidi R. Thornton, John F. Pryor, Andrew M. Stewart, Ben J. Dascombe and Grant M. Duthie

Purpose:

To quantify the duration and position-specific peak running intensities of international rugby union for the prescription and monitoring of specific training methodologies.

Methods:

Global positioning systems (GPS) were used to assess the activity profile of 67 elite-level rugby union players from 2 nations across 33 international matches. A moving-average approach was used to identify the peak relative distance (m/min), average acceleration/deceleration (AveAcc; m/s2), and average metabolic power (Pmet) for a range of durations (1–10 min). Differences between positions and durations were described using a magnitude-based network.

Results:

Peak running intensity increased as the length of the moving average decreased. There were likely small to moderate increases in relative distance and AveAcc for outside backs, halfbacks, and loose forwards compared with the tight 5 group across all moving-average durations (effect size [ES] = 0.27–1.00). Pmet demands were at least likely greater for outside backs and halfbacks than for the tight 5 (ES = 0.86–0.99). Halfbacks demonstrated the greatest relative distance and Pmet outputs but were similar to outside backs and loose forwards in AveAcc demands.

Conclusions:

The current study has presented a framework to describe the peak running intensities achieved during international rugby competition by position, which are considerably higher than previously reported whole-period averages. These data provide further knowledge of the peak activity profiles of international rugby competition, and this information can be used to assist coaches and practitioners in adequately preparing athletes for the most demanding periods of play.