The aim was to analyze the changes of physical performance and physiological responses during a high-intensity training task in wheelchair basketball (WB) players. Thirteen Spanish first division WB male players participated in this study. A test battery (change of direction ability, sprints, and sled towing) was performed to study neuromuscular responses before (pre) and after (post) the small-sided games (SSG). Furthermore, tympanic temperature and blood lactate concentration were measured before and immediately after players finished the SSG. The SSG tasks consisted in four players against four, 4 bouts of 4 min with 2 min of recovery periods. There was a 1.10% decline in performance in both 5- and 20-m sprints (p < .01; effect size [ES] ≤ 0.14), 1.82% decline in 5-m sled towing (p < .05; ES = 0.18), and 2.68% decline in 20-m sled towing (p < .01; ES = 0.27) between pre- and post-SSG. As in physical performance results, significant differences were observed between pre and post in physiological markers, with increasing tympanic temperature (36.21 ± 0.60 °C to 36.97 ± 0.59 °C; p < .001; ES = 1.27) and blood lactate concentrations (1.95 ± 1.30 mmol/L to 5.84 ± 2.04 mmol/L; p < .001; ES = 2.99) after SSG. The SSG produced a decrease in sprint and sled towing performance after 16 min of intense exercise. Moreover, the decrease in physical performance was accompanied with an increase in physiological responses. These neuromuscular responses could be similar in the real game; thus, coaching staff could benefit from this information when changing bench players.
Aitor Iturricastillo, Javier Yanci, and Cristina Granados
Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Tomás Urbán, and Raúl Reina
Purpose: To determine and compare the external match load, according to sport class (FT), of footballers with cerebral palsy (CP) during the International Federation of CP Football World Championships Qualification Tournament. Methods: Forty-two international male footballers with CP participated in the data collection. The footballers with CP were classified according to their FT into 3 groups (ie, FT5/6, FT7, and FT8). External match load (ie, total distance covered, distance covered at different speeds, accelerations, decelerations, player load, peak metabolic power, and changes of directions) was collected for both halves during official matches with global positioning system devices. Results: Players with lower impairment (FT8) covered more distance (effect size = 0.30–0.60) at high-intensity running (13.0–18.0 km·h−1) and sprinting (>18.0 km·h−1) and performed more (effect size = 0.29–1.08) accelerations, decelerations, and changes of direction at high intensity in matches than did other players (ie, FT5/6 and FT7 groups). Conclusion: Because high-intensity actions are relevant to football performance and there are differences caused by players’ impairments, the International Federation of CP Football classification protocols should include high-intensity actions during the technical assessment as part of the procedures for determining the sport class of football players with CP.
Aitor Iturricastillo, Javier Yanci, Cristina Granados, and Victoria Goosey-Tolfrey
To describe the objective and subjective match load (ML) of wheelchair basketball (WB) and determine the relationship between session heart-rate (HR) -based ML and rating-of-perceived-exertion (RPE) -based ML methods.
HR-based measurements of ML included Edwards ML and Stagno training impulses (TRIMPMOD), while RPE-based ML measurements included respiratory (sRPEres) and muscular (sRPEmus). Data were collected from 10 WB players during a whole competitive season.
Edwards ML and TRIMPMOD averaged across 16 matches were 255.3 ± 66.3 and 167.9 ± 67.1 AU, respectively. In contrast, sRPEres ML and sRPEmus ML were found to be higher (521.9 ± 188.7 and 536.9 ± 185.8 AU, respectively). Moderate correlations (r = .629–.648, P < .001) between Edwards ML and RPE-based ML methods were found. Moreover, similar significant correlations were also shown between the TRIMPMOD and RPE-based ML methods (r = .627–.668, P < .001). That said, only ≥40% of variance in HR-based ML was explained by RPE-based ML, which could be explained by the heterogeneity of physical-impairment type.
RPE-based ML methods could be used as an indicator of global internal ML in highly trained WB players.
Adrián García-Fresneda, Gerard Carmona, Javier Yanci, and Aitor Iturricastillo
The aim of the present study was to determine, for the first time in elite women’s wheelchair basketball, the differences in the initial maximum push-rim propulsion (IMPRP), mechanical outputs, and sprint performance between A category (≤2.5 class) and B category (≥3 class) players. A secondary aim was to assess the association between IMPRP mechanical outputs and sprint performance to determine the influence of specific strength in the latter. Sixteen Spanish women’s wheelchair basketball players participated in this study: A category (n = 9, International Wheelchair Basketball Federation [IWBF] classification range: 1–2.5 points) and B category (n = 7, IWBF classification range: 3–4.5 points). All the players undertook 2 tests: the IMPRP test to measure the strength variables and the 3-, 5-, and 12-m sprint test. B category players reported significantly better performance values in almost all the IMPRP variables and all the sprint distances than A category players. Large to very large significant correlations were observed among IMPRP absolute mechanical outputs (excepting mean power) and sprint performance (3, 5, and 12 m) for all the participants. When the group was divided according to categories A and B, the significant differences observed in the whole group decreased in both groups, although some relationships were large or very large. The IMPRP test and sprint test (3, 5, and 12 m) seemed to be sensitive to differentiate the level between the 2 functional categories. In addition, there was a high association between strength and sprint variables, which shows that greater strength could improve sprint capacity.
Aitor Iturricastillo, Cristina Granados, Raúl Reina, José Manuel Sarabia, Ander Romarate, and Javier Yanci
Purpose: To analyze the relationship between mean propulsive velocity (MPV) of the bar and relative load (percentage of the 1-repetition maximum [%1RM]) in the bench-press (BP) exercise and to determine the relationship of power variables (ie, mean concentric power [MP], mean propulsive power [MPP], and peak power [PP]) in change-of-direction ability, linear sprint, and repeated-sprint ability. Methods: A total of 9 Spanish First Division wheelchair basketball players participated in the study. All participants performed an isoinertial BP test in free execution mode, a 505 change-of-direction ability test, linear sprint test (20 m), and repeated-sprint ability test. Results: A nearly perfect and inverse relationship was observed for the BP exercise between the %1RM and MPV (r = −.97, R 2 = .945, P < .001). The maximum loads for MP, MPP, and PP were obtained between 48.1% and 59.4% of the 1RM. However, no significant correlations were observed between strength and wheelchair performance. Conclusions: Wheelchair basketball players with different functional impairments showed a nearly perfect and inverse relationship for the BP exercise between the %1RM and MPV; thus the MPV could be used to estimate the %1RM. This finding has important practical applications for velocity-based resistance training in that coaches would be able to prescribe and monitor training load. Conversely, the absence of association between BP performance and field tests might be due to other factors such as the wheelchair–user interface, trunk-muscle activity, or propulsion technique, apart from strength variables.
Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Matías Henríquez, Alba Roldan, and Raúl Reina
This study aimed to analyze whether there are differences and associations in the physical responses in international-level cerebral palsy footballers between official matches and 2v2 small-sided games (2v2-SSG). One hundred seventy international cerebral palsy footballers participated in this study during three international championships. The physical responses of mean and maximum velocities, total distance, distance covered at different intensities, short-term actions, and player load were collected during 2v2-SSG and the real competition. The mean velocity, total distance, jogging, medium- and high-intensity distances, the number of moderate/high accelerations, decelerations, and player load were relatively higher in the 2v2-SSG than in the official matches. Even though the 2v2-SSG could become an appropriate drill to include during the classification process, due to the differences between a 2v2-SSG and the official competition, it is necessary to deepen the scientific knowledge for developing observation methods during real competition to strengthen the relationships between eligible impairments and activity limitation.
Matías Henríquez, Aitor Iturricastillo, Arturo González-Olguín, Felipe Herrera, Sonny Riquelme, and Raul Reina
This study compared physical performance in a group of international cerebral palsy football players during two formats of small-sided games (SSGs) and performance in a simulated game (SG) according to players’ sport classes (FT1, FT2, and FT3). Internal load (heart rate and rating of perceived exertion) and external load (total distance, distance covered at different velocities, maximum speed reached, acceleration, and deceleration) were obtained with global positioning system devices during two formats of SSGs (2-a-side/SSG2 and 4-a-side/SSG4) and an SG (7-a-side). SSG2 demands faster actions compared with SSG4/SG, and significant differences and large effect sizes were found in the distance covered in Speed Zones 5 (16.0−17.9 km/hr) and 6 (>18.0 km/hr; p < .05;
Ibai Garcia-Tabar, Aitor Iturricastillo, Julen Castellano, Eduardo L. Cadore, Mikel Izquierdo, and Igor Setuain
Purpose: To develop gender-specific operational equations for prediction of cardiorespiratory fitness in female footballers. Method: Forty-eight semiprofessional female footballers performed an intermittent progressive maximal running test for determination of fixed blood lactate concentration (FBLC) thresholds. Relationships between FBLC thresholds and the physiological responses to submaximal running were examined. Developed equations (n = 48) were compared with equations previously obtained in another investigation performed in males (n = 100). Results: Submaximal velocity associated with 90% maximal heart rate was related to FBLC thresholds (r = .76 to .79; P < .001). Predictive power (R2 = .82 to .94) of a single blood lactate concentration (BLC) sample measured at 10 or 11.5 km·h−1 was very high. A single BLC sample taken after a 5-minute running bout at 8.5 km·h−1 was related to FBLC thresholds (r = −.71; P < .001). No difference (P = .15) in the regression lines predicting FBLC thresholds from velocity associated with 90% maximal heart rate was observed between the female and male cohorts. However, regressions estimating FBLC thresholds by a single BLC sample were different (P = .002). Conclusions: Velocity associated with 90% maximal heart rate was robustly related to FBLC thresholds and might serve for mass field testing independently of sex. BLC equations accurately predicted FBLC thresholds. However, these equations are gender-specific. This is the first study reporting operational equations to estimate the FBLC thresholds in female footballers. The use of these equations reduces the burden associated with cardiorespiratory testing. Further cross-validation studies are warranted to validate the proposed equations and establish them for mass field testing.
Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Astrid Aracama, Alba Roldan, and Raúl Reina
Purpose: The objectives of this study were to analyze whether there were differences among para-footballers with different types and degrees of brain impairment (ie, bilateral spasticity, athetosis/ataxia, unilateral spasticity, minimum impairment criteria, or no impairment) in performing 3 football-specific tests requiring ball dribbling, to analyze whether there was an association among the results obtained in the 3 tests, and to determine whether the performance in the tests was associated with competitive level, level of training, or years’ experience in para-footballers with cerebral palsy (CP). Methods: A total of 123 footballers took part in the study, 87 of whom were footballers with CP and 36 who were without impairment. Both groups were assessed in 3 football-specific tests (Stop and Go, Turning and Dribbling, and the Illinois Agility Test). Results: The results showed that the footballers without impairment recorded a better performance in all tests (P < .01) in comparison with the CP players. No significant differences in test performance were observed among the CP players from different competitive levels. However, significant differences (P < .01) were observed between players with diplegia or athetosis/ataxia compared with players with hemiplegia or minimum impairment level. Performance in the tests did not correlate with years of football experience, weekly strength training sessions, or specific football training in the footballers with CP (P = .12–.95). Conclusions: These findings suggest the possible inclusion of these tests in the classification process for footballers with CP because they discriminate among functional classes and are resistant to training and competitive level.
Raúl Reina, Aitor Iturricastillo, Rafael Sabido, Maria Campayo-Piernas, and Javier Yanci
Purpose: To evaluate the reliability and validity of vertical and horizontal jump tests in football players with cerebral palsy (FPCP) and to analyze the jump performance differences between current International Federation for Cerebral Palsy Football functional classes (ie, FT5–FT8). Methods: A total of 132 international parafootballers (25.8 [6.7] y; 70.0 [9.1] kg; 175.7 [7.3] cm; 22.8 [2.8] kg·m−2; and 10.7 [7.5] y training experience) participated in the study. The participants were classified according to the International Federation for Cerebral Palsy Football classification rules, and a group of 39 players without cerebral palsy was included in the study as a control group. Football players’ vertical and horizontal jump performance was assessed. Results: All the tests showed good to excellent relative intrasession reliability scores, both in FPCP and in the control group (intraclass correlation = .78–.97, SEM < 10.5%). Significant between-groups differences (P < .001) were obtained in the countermovement jump, standing broad jump, 4 bounds for distance, and triple hop for distance dominant leg and nondominant leg. The control group performed higher/farther jumps with regard to all the FPCP classes, obtaining significant differences and moderate to large effect sizes (ESs) (.85 < ES < 5.54, P < .01). Players in FT8 class (less severe impairments) had significantly higher scores in all the jump tests than players in the lower classes (ES = moderate to large, P < .01). Conclusions: The vertical and horizontal jump tests performed in this study could be applied to the classification procedures and protocols for FPCP.