Repeated-sprint ability (RSA) is now well accepted as an important fitness component in team-sport performance. It is broadly described as the ability to perform repeated short (~3–4 s, 20–30 m) sprints with only brief (~10–30 s) recovery between bouts. Over the past 25 y a plethora of RSA tests have been trialed and reported in the literature. These range from a single set of ~6–10 short sprints, departing every 20–30 s, to team-sport game simulations involving repeating cycles of walk-jog-stride-sprint movements over 45–90 min. Such a wide range of RSA tests has not assisted the synthesis of research findings in this area, and questions remain regarding the optimal methods of training to best improve RSA. In addition, how RSA test scores relate to player “work rate,” match performance, or both requires further investigation to improve the application of RSA testing and training to elite team-sport athletes.
Laurence Houghton, Brian Dawson, and Jonas Rubenson
Effects of prolonged running on Achilles tendon properties were assessed after a 60 min treadmill run and 140 min intermittent shuttle running (simulated cricket batting innings). Before and after exercise, 11 participants performed ramp-up plantar flexions to maximum-voluntary-contraction before gradual relaxation. Muscle-tendon-junction displacement was measured with ultrasonography. Tendon force was estimated using dynamometry and a musculoskeletal model. Gradients of the ramp-up force-displacement curves fitted between 0–40% and 50–90% of the preexercise maximal force determined stiffness in the low- and high-force-range, respectively. Hysteresis was determined using the ramp-up and relaxation force-displacement curves and elastic energy storage from the area under the ramp-up curve. In simulated batting, correlations between tendon properties and shuttle times were also assessed. After both protocols, Achilles tendon force decreased (4% to 5%, P < .050), but there were no changes in stiffness, hysteresis, or elastic energy. In simulated batting, Achilles tendon force and stiffness were both correlated to mean turn and mean sprint times (r = −0.719 to −0.830, P < .050). Neither protocol resulted in fatigue-related changes in tendon properties, but higher tendon stiffness and plantar flexion force were related to faster turn and sprint times, possibly by improving force transmission and control of movement when decelerating and accelerating.
Daniel Tan, Brian Dawson, and Peter Peeling
This study aimed to quantify the hemolytic responses of elite female football (soccer) players during a typical weekly training session.
Ten elite female football players (7 field players [FPs] and 3 goalkeepers [GKs]) were recruited from the Australian National Women’s Premier League and asked to provide a venous blood sample 30 min before and at the immediate conclusion of a typical weekly training session. During this training session, the players’ movement patterns were monitored via a 5-Hz global positioning system. The blood samples collected during the training session were analyzed for iron status via serum ferritin (SF) analysis, and the hemolytic response to training, via serum free hemoglobin (Hb) and haptoglobin (Hp) measurement.
50% of the participants screened were found to have a compromised iron stores (SF <35 μg/L). Furthermore, the posttraining serum free Hb levels were significantly elevated (P = .011), and the serum Hp levels were significantly decreased (P = .005), with no significant differences recorded between the FPs and GKs. However, the overall distance covered and the movement speed were significantly greater in the FPs.
The increases in free Hb and decreases in Hp levels provide evidence that a typical team-sport training session may result in significant hemolysis. This hemolysis may primarily be a result of running-based movements in FPs and/or the plyometric movements in GKs, such as diving and tackling.
Claire Rechichi, Brian Dawson, and Carmel Goodman
Some reports suggest variation in physiological responses and athletic performance, for female athletes at specific phases of the menstrual cycle. However, inconsistent findings are common due to the inappropriate verification of menstrual cycle phase, small subject numbers, high intra- and interindividual variability in estrogen and progesterone concentration, and the pulsatile secretion of these hormones. Therefore, the oral contraceptive (OC) cycle may provide a more stable environment in which to evaluate the acute effect of reproductive hormones on physiological variables and exercise performance. To date, most of the OC research has compared differences between OC use and nonuse, and few researchers have examined within-cycle effects of the OC. It is also apparent that OC use is becoming far more prevalent in athletes; hence the effect of the different exogenous and endogenous hormonal profiles on athletic performance should be investigated. Research to date identifies potential for variation in aerobic performance, anaerobic capacity, anaerobic power and reactive strength throughout an OC cycle. The purpose of this review is to present and evaluate the current literature on the physiology of exercise and athletic performance during the OC cycle.
Andrew Thomas, Brian Dawson, and Carmel Goodman
The purpose of the study was to determine the reliability of yo-yo intermittent recovery test (yo-yo) scores and their degree of association with a 20-m shuttle run (20MSR) and VO2max values.
Subjects were elite (Australian Football League [AFL], n = 23), state-level (hockey, n = 15, and cricket, n = 27), and recreational team-sport players (n = 33). All performed a 20MSR and the yo-yo at either level 1 (recreational and state level) or level 2 (AFL). A recreational subgroup (n = 19) also performed a treadmill VO2max test.
Test–retest results found the yo-yo (levels 1 and 2) to be reliable (ICC = .86 to .95). The 20MSR and yo-yo level 1 scores correlated (P < .01) in the recreational (r = .81 to .83) and state-level groups (r = .84 to .86), and 20MSR and yo-yo level 2 scores, in the elite (r = .86) and recreational groups (r = .55 to .57). The VO2max and yo-yo level 1 scores in the recreational group correlated (P < .01, r = .87), but no association was found with yo-yo level 2 (r = .40 to .43, non significant).
We conclude that level 1 (recreational and state level) and level 2 (elite) yo-yo scores were both strongly associated with 20MSR scores and VO2max (level 1: recreational subjects only). The yo-yo appears to measure aerobic fitness similarly to the 20MSR but may also be used as a field test of the ability to repeat high-intensity efforts.
Marc Sim, Brian Dawson, Grant Landers, Debbie Trinder, and Peter Peeling
The trace element iron plays a number of crucial physiological roles within the body. Despite its importance, iron deficiency remains a common problem among athletes. As an individual’s iron stores become depleted, it can affect their well-being and athletic capacity. Recently, altered iron metabolism in athletes has been attributed to postexercise increases in the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, which has been reported to be upregulated by exercise-induced increases in the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. As such, when hepcidin levels are elevated, iron absorption and recycling may be compromised. To date, however, most studies have explored the acute postexercise hepcidin response, with limited research seeking to minimize/attenuate these increases. This review summarizes the current knowledge regarding the postexercise hepcidin response under a variety of exercise scenarios and highlights potential areas for future research—such as: a) the use of hormones though the female oral contraceptive pill to manipulate the postexercise hepcidin response, b) comparing the use of different exercise modes (e.g., cycling vs. running) on hepcidin regulation.
Nathan G. Versey, Shona L. Halson, and Brian T. Dawson
To investigate whether contrast water therapy (CWT) assists acute recovery from high-intensity running and whether a dose-response relationship exists.
Ten trained male runners completed 4 trials, each commencing with a 3000-m time trial, followed by 8 × 400-m intervals with 1 min of recovery. Ten minutes postexercise, participants performed 1 of 4 recovery protocols: CWT, by alternating 1 min hot (38°C) and 1 min cold (15°C) for 6 (CWT6), 12 (CWT12), or 18 min (CWT18), or a seated rest control trial. The 3000-m time trial was repeated 2 h later.
3000-m performance slowed from 632 ± 4 to 647 ± 4 s in control, 631 ± 4 to 642 ± 4 s in CWT6, 633 ± 4 to 648 ± 4 s in CWT12, and 631 ± 4 to 647 ± 4 s in CWT18. Following CWT6, performance (smallest worthwhile change of 0.3%) was substantially faster than control (87% probability, 0.8 ± 0.8% mean ± 90% confidence limit), however, there was no effect for CWT12 (34%, 0.0 ± 1.0%) or CWT18 (34%, –0.1 ± 0.8%). There were no substantial differences between conditions in exercise heart rates, or postexercise calf and thigh girths. Algometer thigh pain threshold during CWT12 was higher at all time points compared with control. Subjective measures of thermal sensation and muscle soreness were lower in all CWT conditions at some post-water-immersion time points compared with control; however, there were no consistent differences in whole body fatigue following CWT.
Contrast water therapy for 6 min assisted acute recovery from high-intensity running; however, CWT duration did not have a dose-response effect on recovery of running performance.
Ted Polglaze, Brian Dawson, Daniel J. Hiscock, and Peter Peeling
To determine the relationship between distance covered and player load (PL: sum of accelerations in all 3 planes of movement) in hockey training and competition.
Elite male hockey players (N = 24) wore player-tracking devices in 7 international matches and 7 training sessions. Players were arranged in 4 positional groups (strikers, attacking midfielders, defensive midfielders, defenders) in competition but had generic roles in training. Relationships between distance and PL were assessed in both absolute (m, AU) and relative (m/min, AU/min) terms and were compared between matches and training and between positions within matches, using the Fisher Z test.
In competition, the absolute distance–PL relationship was very large overall (r = .868), with no differences between positions. The relative distance–PL relationship was moderate overall (r = .486) and weaker in strikers than in defensive midfielders (Z = 1.785, P = .037) and defenders (Z = 1.690, P = .045). In training, the absolute distance–PL relationship was very large (r = .742), and large (r = .633) in relative terms. The relationship was stronger in competition than training for absolute values (Z = 2.824, P = .005) but not different for relative values.
The strong relationship between these variables suggests that PL in hockey is mostly accumulated through running and other locomotor actions, such that PL is not effective in quantifying other activities (evasion, low stance) that contribute to physiological demands, particularly in training.
Kagan J. Ducker, Brian Dawson, and Karen E. Wallman
Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to improve exercise performance in short-term, high-intensity efforts.
The aim of this study was to assess if beta-alanine supplementation could improve 800 m track running performance in male recreational club runners (n = 18).
Participants completed duplicate trials (2 presupplementation, 2 postsupplementation) of an 800 m race, separated by 28 days of either beta-alanine (n = 9; 80 mg·kg−1BM·day−1) or placebo (n = 9) supplementation.
Using ANCOVA (presupplementation times as covariate), postsupplementation race times were significantly faster following beta-alanine (p = .02), with post- versus presupplementation race times being faster after beta-alanine (–3.64 ± 2.70 s, –2.46 ± 1.80%) but not placebo (–0.59 ± 2.54 s, –0.37 ± 1.62%). These improvements were supported by a moderate effect size (d = 0.70) and a very likely (99%) benefit in the beta-alanine group after supplementation. Split times (ANCOVA) at 400 m were significantly faster (p = .02) postsupplementation in the beta-alanine group, compared with placebo. This was supported by large effect sizes (d = 1.05–1.19) and a very likely (99%) benefit at the 400 and 800 m splits when comparing pre- to postsupplementation with beta-alanine. In addition, the first and second halves of the race were faster post- compared with presupplementation following beta-alanine (1st half –1.22 ± 1.81 s, likely 78% chance of benefit; 2nd half –2.38 ± 2.31 s, d = 0.83, very likely 98% chance of benefit). No significant differences between groups or pre- and postsupplementation were observed for postrace blood lactate and pH.
Overall, 28 days of beta-alanine supplementation (80 mg·kg-1BM·day-1) improved 800 m track performance in recreational club runners.
Frankie H.Y. Tan, Ted Polglaze, and Brian Dawson
To compare the Multistage Shuttle Swim Test (MSST), Water Polo Intermittent Shuttle Test (WIST) and 5 × 200 m Incremental Swimming Test (IST) responses in elite female water polo players.
Fourteen Australian Women’s National Water Polo Squad members performed the MSST and WIST, and 13 players from a National Water Polo League club performed the IST, MSST and WIST on separate occasions (no goalkeepers were involved). Peak heart rate, blood lactate and ratings of perceived exertion were obtained for all tests. Expired air was collected following all tests for the National League players.
The National Squad players scored significantly better (ie, distance covered) in the MSST and WIST than the National League players (effect sizes = 1.60 to 1.79, P < .001). The MSST and WIST scores were significantly correlated (r = .80 to 0.88, P < .001). The MSST scores were significantly correlated with peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak; mL·kg−1·min−1) obtained for all tests (r = .58 to 0.59, P < .05). In contrast, there were no significant correlations between the WIST scores and VO2peak obtained for any of the tests (r = .43 to 0.52, P > .05). Differences in VO2peak for the IST, MSST and WIST were nonsignificant (P > .05).
The MSST and WIST can discriminate players of different competition standards. The MSST can be used to estimate a player’s aerobic fitness and peak heart rate. The WIST appears to better mimic the intermittent activity pattern of the game, but its application to female players, to assess maximal intermittent endurance swimming performance, requires further evaluation.