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Ryland Morgans, Rocco Di Michele and Barry Drust

Purpose: Competitive match play is a dominant component of the physical load completed by soccer players in a training microcycle. Characterizing the temporal disruption in homeostasis that follows exercise may provide some insight on the potential for match play to elicit an adaptive response. Methods: Countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance was characterized 3 d postmatch for 15 outfield players from an English Premier League soccer team (age 25.8 ± 4.1 y, stature 1.78 ± 0.08 m, body mass: 71.7 ± 9.1 kg) across a season. These players were classified as either starters (n = 9) or nonstarters (n = 6), according to their average individual playing time (more or less than 60 min/match). Linear mixed models were used to investigate the influence of indicators of match activity (total distance covered [TD] and high-intensity running distance [HI]) on CMJ height and peak power (PP). Results: Starting players covered much greater TD (ES = 1.5) and HI (ES = 1.4) than nonstarters. Furthermore, there was a possible positive effect of HI on CMJ height and PP. This relationship suggests that an additional 0.6 km of HI would increase CMJ height and PP by slightly more than the smallest-worthwhile-change values of 0.6 cm and 1.0 W/kg, respectively. This small yet practically relevant increase in performance may suggest that match play, more specifically the intense activities that are associated with the match, provides a physiological stimulus for neuromuscular adaptation. Conclusions: These data may have implications for the preparation of soccer squads, especially the training requirements of starting and nonstarting players.

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Craig A. Bridge, Michelle A. Jones and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To investigate the physiological responses and perceived exertion during international Taekwondo competition.

Methods:

Eight male Taekwondo black belts (mean ± SD, age 22 ± 4 y, body mass 69.4 ± 13.4 kg, height 1.82 ± 0.10 m, competition experience 9 ± 5 y) took part in an international-level Taekwondo competition. Each combat included three 2-min rounds with 30 s of recovery between each round. Heart rate (HR) was recorded at 5-s intervals during each combat. Capillary blood lactate samples were taken from the fingertip 1 min before competition, directly after each round and 1 min after competition. Competitors’ rating of perceived exertion (RPE) was recorded for each round using Borg’s 6-to-20 scale.

Results:

HR (round 1: 175 ± 15 to round 3: 187 ± 8 beats·min−1; P < .05), percentage of HR maximum (round 1: 89 ± 8 to round 3: 96 ± 5% HRmax; P < .05), blood lactate (round 1: 7.5 ± 1.6 to round 3: 11.9 ± 2.1 mmol·L-1; P < .05) and RPE (round 1: 11 ± 2 to round 3: 14 ± 2; P < .05; mean ± SD) increased significantly across rounds.

Conclusions:

International-level Taekwondo competition elicited near-maximal cardiovascular responses, high blood lactate concentrations, and increases in competitors' RPE across combat. Training should therefore include exercise bouts that sufficiently stimulate both aerobic and anaerobic metabolism.

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Craig A. Bridge, Michelle A. Jones and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To examine the activity profiles of elite male competitors during international Taekwondo competition in relation to fn, feather, and heavy weight categories.

Methods:

Twelve male Taekwondo competitors equally representing fn, feather, and heavy weight divisions were studied during the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships using a time-motion system developed to analyze the activities and activity phases. The frequency and duration of activities were recorded and assimilated into four independent activity phases: fighting activity, preparatory activity, nonpreparatory activity and stoppage activity. The total number of exchanges and kicks were also calculated for each combat.

Results:

For all weight groupings the mean ± SD fighting time was 1.7 ± 0.3 s, preparatory time 6.4 ± 2.1 s, nonpreparatory time 3.0 ± 0.6 s, referee stoppage time 2.8 ± 0.9 s and 28 ± 6 exchanges and 31 ± 7 kicks were performed. Differences in the mean fighting time (fn: 1.4 ± 0.2 s vs heavy: 1.8 ± 0.3 s; P = .03; effect size [ES] = 1.57), preparatory time (fn: 5.3 ± 1.0 s vs feather: 8.2 ± 2.6 s; P = .03; ES = 1.47) and the total number of exchanges (feather: 24 ± 6 vs heavy: 32 ± 5; P = .03; ES = 1.44) were identified between the weight categories.

Conclusion:

The activity profile in international Taekwondo competition was modulated by competitors’ weight category. These findings suggest that conditioning sessions may need to be specialized to the requirements of specific weight categories.

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Robin T. Thorpe, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

The increase in competition demands in elite team sports over recent years has prompted much attention from researchers and practitioners to the monitoring of adaptation and fatigue in athletes. Monitoring fatigue and gaining an understanding of athlete status may also provide insights and beneficial information pertaining to player availability, injury, and illness risk. Traditional methods used to quantify recovery and fatigue in team sports, such as maximal physical-performance assessments, may not be feasible to detect variations in fatigue status throughout competitive periods. Faster, simpler, and nonexhaustive tests such as athlete self-report measures, autonomic nervous system response via heart-rate-derived indices, and to a lesser extent, jump protocols may serve as promising tools to quantify and establish fatigue status in elite team-sport athletes. The robust rationalization and precise detection of a meaningful fluctuation in these measures are of paramount importance for practitioners working alongside athletes and coaches on a daily basis. There are various methods for arriving at a minimal clinically important difference, but these have been rarely adopted by sport scientists and practitioners. The implementation of appropriate, reliable, and sensitive measures of fatigue can provide important information to key stakeholders in team-sport environments. Future research is required to investigate the sensitivity of these tools to fundamental indicators such as performance, injury, and illness.

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Niels J. Nedergaard, Mark A. Robinson, Elena Eusterwiemann, Barry Drust, Paulo J. Lisboa and Jos Vanrenterghem

Purpose:

To investigate the relationship between whole-body accelerations and body-worn accelerometry during team-sport movements.

Methods:

Twenty male team-sport players performed forward running and anticipated 45° and 90° side-cuts at approach speeds of 2, 3, 4, and 5 m/s. Whole-body center-of-mass (CoM) accelerations were determined from ground-reaction forces collected from 1 foot–ground contact, and segmental accelerations were measured from a commercial GPS accelerometer unit on the upper trunk. Three higher-specification accelerometers were also positioned on the GPS unit, the dorsal aspect of the pelvis, and the shaft of the tibia. Associations between mechanical load variables (peak acceleration, loading rate, and impulse) calculated from both CoM accelerations and segmental accelerations were explored using regression analysis. In addition, 1-dimensional statistical parametric mapping (SPM) was used to explore the relationships between peak segmental accelerations and CoM-acceleration profiles during the whole foot–ground contact.

Results:

A weak relationship was observed for the investigated mechanical load variables regardless of accelerometer location and task (R 2 values across accelerometer locations and tasks: peak acceleration .08–.55, loading rate .27–.59, and impulse .02–.59). Segmental accelerations generally overestimated whole-body mechanical load. SPM analysis showed that peak segmental accelerations were mostly related to CoM accelerations during the first 40–50% of contact phase.

Conclusions:

While body-worn accelerometry correlates to whole-body loading in team-sport movements and can reveal useful estimates concerning loading, these correlations are not strong. Body-worn accelerometry should therefore be used with caution to monitor whole-body mechanical loading in the field.

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Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

Purpose:

To quantify the mean daily changes in training and match load and any parallel changes in indicators of morningmeasured fatigue across in-season training weeks in elite soccer players.

Methods:

After each training session and match (TL), session ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) were recorded to calculate overall session load (RPE-TL) in 29 English Premier League players from the same team. Morning ratings of fatigue, sleep quality, and delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS), as well as submaximal exercise heart rate (HRex), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR%), and heart-rate variability (HRV) were recorded before match day and 1, 2, and 4 d postmatch. Data were collected for a median duration of 3 wk (range 1–13) and reduced to a typical weekly cycle including no midweek match and a weekend match day. Data were analyzed using withinsubject linear mixed models.

Results:

RPE-TL was approximately 600 arbitrary units (AU) (95% confidence interval 546–644) higher on match day than following day (P < .001). RPE-TL progressively decreased by »60 AU per day over the 3 days before a match (P < .05). Morning-measured fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS tracked the changes in RPE-TL, being 35–40% worse on postmatch day vs prematch day (P < .001). Perceived fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS improved by 17–26% from postmatch day to 3 d postmatch, with further smaller (7%–14%) improvements occurring between 4 d postmatch and prematch day (P < .01). There were no substantial or statistically significant changes in HRex, HRR%, or HRV over the weekly cycle (P > .05).

Conclusions:

Morning-measured ratings of fatigue, sleep quality, and DOMS are clearly more sensitive than HR-derived indices to the daily fluctuations in session load experienced by elite soccer players in a standard in-season week.

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Ryland Morgans, Adam Owen, Dominic Doran, Barry Drust and James P. Morton

Purpose:

To monitor resting salivary secretory immunoglobulin A (SIgA) levels in international soccer players during the short-term training period that precedes international match play.

Methods:

In a repeated-measure design, saliva samples were obtained from 13 outfield soccer players who participated in the training camps preceding 7 games (5 home and 2 away) of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign. Samples were obtained daily for 4 d preceding each game (and analyzed for SIgA using the IPRO oral-fluid-collection system) at match day minus 1 (MD-1), minus 2 (MD-2), minus 3 (MD-3), and minus 4 (MD-4).

Results:

SIgA displayed a progressive decline (P = .01) during the 4-d training period (MD-4, 365 ± 127 μg/mL; MD-3, 348 ± 154 μg/mL; MD-2, 290 ± 138 μg/mL; MD-1, 256 ± 90 μg/mL) such that MD-1 values were significantly lower (P = .01) than both MD-4 and MD-3. The 95% confidence intervals for the differences between MD-1 and MD-4 were –191 to –26 and between MD-1 and MD-3 were –155 to –28.

Conclusions:

Data demonstrate that a short-term soccer-training camp in preparation for international competition induces detectable perturbations to mucosal immunity. Future studies should monitor SIgA (as a practical and noninvasive measure of immunity) alongside internal and external measures of training load in an attempt to strategically individualize training and nutritional strategies that may support optimal preparation for high-level competition.

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George Wilson, Neil Chester, Martin Eubank, Ben Crighton, Barry Drust, James P. Morton and Graeme L. Close

Professional jockeys are unique among weight-making athletes, as they are often required to make weight daily and, in many cases, all year-round. Common methods employed by jockeys include dehydration, severe calorie restriction, and sporadic eating, all of which have adverse health effects. In contrast, this article outlines a structured diet and exercise plan, employed by a 22-yr-old professional National Hunt jockey in an attempt to reduce weight from 70.3 to 62.6 kg, that does not rely on any of the aforementioned techniques. Before the intervention, the client’s typical daily energy intake was 8.2 MJ (42% carbohydrate [CHO], 36% fat, 22% protein) consumed in 2 meals only. During the 9-wk intervention, daily energy intake was approximately equivalent to resting metabolic rate, which the athlete consumed as 6 meals per day (7.6 MJ, 46% CHO, 19% fat, 36% protein). This change in frequency and composition of energy intake combined with structured exercise resulted in a total body-mass loss of 8 kg, corresponding to reductions in body fat from 14.5% to 9%. No form of intentional dehydration occurred throughout this period, and mean urine osmolality was 285 mOsm/kg (SD 115 mOsm/kg). In addition, positive changes in mood scores (BRUMS scale) also occurred. The client was now able to ride light for the first time in his career without dehydrating, thereby challenging the cultural practices inherent in the sport.

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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

Robin T. Thorpe, Anthony J. Strudwick, Martin Buchheit, Greg Atkinson, Barry Drust and Warren Gregson

Purpose:

To determine the sensitivity of a range of potential fatigue measures to daily training load accumulated over the previous 2, 3, and 4 d during a short in-season competitive period in elite senior soccer players (N = 10).

Methods:

Total highspeed-running distance, perceived ratings of wellness (fatigue, muscle soreness, sleep quality), countermovement-jump height (CMJ), submaximal heart rate (HRex), postexercise heart-rate recovery (HRR), and heart-rate variability (HRV: Ln rMSSD) were analyzed during an in-season competitive period (17 d). General linear models were used to evaluate the influence of 2-, 3-, and 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation on fatigue measures.

Results:

Fluctuations in perceived ratings of fatigue were correlated with fluctuations in total high-speed-running-distance accumulation covered on the previous 2 d (r = –.31; small), 3 d (r = –.42; moderate), and 4 d (r = –.28; small) (P < .05). Changes in HRex (r = .28; small; P = .02) were correlated with changes in 4-d total high-speed-running-distance accumulation only. Correlations between variability in muscle soreness, sleep quality, CMJ, HRR%, and HRV and total high-speed-running distance were negligible and not statistically significant for all accumulation training loads.

Conclusions:

Perceived ratings of fatigue and HRex were sensitive to fluctuations in acute total high-speed-running-distance accumulation, although sensitivity was not systematically influenced by the number of previous days over which the training load was accumulated. The present findings indicate that the sensitivity of morning-measured fatigue variables to changes in training load is generally not improved when compared with training loads beyond the previous day’s training.