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Repeated-Sprint Ability: Where Are We?

Brian Dawson

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.

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Athletic Performance and the Oral Contraceptive

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.

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Achilles Tendon Mechanical Properties After Both Prolonged Continuous Running and Prolonged Intermittent Shuttle Running in Cricket Batting

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.

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The Yo-Yo Test: Reliability and Association with a 20-m Shuttle Run and VO2max

Andrew Thomas, Brian Dawson, and Carmel Goodman

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

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.

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Hemolytic Effects of a Football-Specific Training Session in Elite Female Players

Daniel Tan, Brian Dawson, and Peter Peeling

Purpose:

This study aimed to quantify the hemolytic responses of elite female football (soccer) players during a typical weekly training session.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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Validity and Reliability of GPS Units to Monitor Cricket-Specific Movement Patterns

Carl Petersen, David Pyne, Marc Portus, and Brian Dawson

Purpose:

The validity and reliability of three commercial global positioning system (GPS) units (MinimaxX, Catapult, Australia; SPI-10, SPI-Pro, GPSports, Australia) were quantified.

Methods:

Twenty trials of cricket-specific locomotion patterns and distances (walking 8800 m, jogging 2400 m, running 1200 m, striding 600 m, sprinting 20- to 40-m intervals, and run-a-three) were compared against criterion measures (400-m athletic track, electronic timing). Validity was quantified with the standard error of the estimate (SEE) and reliability estimated using typical error expressed as a coefficient of variation.

Results:

The validity (mean ± 90% confidence limits) for locomotion patterns walking to striding ranged from 0.4 ± 0.1 to 3.8 ± 1.4%, whereas for sprinting distances over 20 to 40 m including run-a-three (approx. 50 m) the SEE ranged from 2.6 ± 1.0 to 23.8 ± 8.8%. The reliability (expressed as mean [90% confidence limits]) of estimating distance traveled by walking to striding ranged from 0.3 (0.2 to 0.4) to 2.9% (2.3 to 4.0). Similarly, mean reliability of estimating different sprinting distances over 20 to 40 m ranged from 2.0 (1.6 to 2.8) to 30.0% (23.2 to 43.3).

Conclusions:

The accuracy and bias was dependent on the GPS brand employed. Commercially available GPS units have acceptable validity and reliability for estimating longer distances (600–8800 m) in walking to striding, but require further development for shorter cricket-specifc sprinting distances.

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Validity of a Reactive Agility Test for Australian Football

Greg Henry, Brian Dawson, Brendan Lay, and Warren Young

Purpose:

To study the validity of a video-based reactive agility test in Australian footballers.

Methods:

15 higher performance, 15 lower performance, and 12 nonfootballers completed a light-based reactive agility test (LRAT), a video-based reactive agility test (VRAT), and a planned test (PLAN).

Results:

With skill groups pooled, agility time in PLAN (1346 ± 66 ms) was significantly faster (P = .001) than both reactive tests (VRAT = 1550 ± 102 ms; LRAT = 1572 ± 97 ms). In addition, decision time was significantly faster (P = .001; d = 0.8) in LRAT (278 ± 36 ms) than VRAT (311 ± 47 ms). The correlation in agility time between the two reactive tests (r = .75) was higher than between the planned and reactive tests (r = .41–.68). Higher performance players had faster agility and movement times on VRAT (agility, 130 ± 24 ms, d = 1.27, P = .004; movement, 69 ± 73 ms, d = 0.88, P = .1) and LRAT (agility, 95 ± 86 ms, d = 0.99, P = .08; movement, 79 ± 74 ms; d = 0.9; P = .08) than the nonfootballers. In addition, higher (55 ± 39 ms, d = 0.87, P = .05) and lower (40 ± 57 ms, d = 0.74, P = .18) performance groups exhibited somewhat faster agility time than nonfootballers on PLAN. Furthermore, higher performance players were somewhat faster than lower performance for agility time on the VRAT (63 ± 85 ms, d = 0.82, P = .16) and decision time on the LRAT (20 ± 39 ms, d = 0.66, P = .21), but there was little difference in PLAN agility time between these groups (15 ± 150 ms, d = 0.24, P = .8).

Conclusions:

Differences in decision-making speed indicate that the sport-specific nature of the VRAT is not duplicated by a light-based stimulus. In addition, the VRAT is somewhat better able to discriminate different groups of Australian footballers than the LRAT. Collectively, this indicates that a video-based test is a more valid assessment tool for examining agility in Australian footballers.

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The Reproducibility of Physiological Responses and Performance Profiles of Youth Soccer Players in Small-Sided Games

Stephen Hill-Haas, Greg Rowsell, Aaron Coutts, and Brian Dawson

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Comparison of Progressive Maximal Swimming Tests in Elite Female Water Polo Players

Frankie H.Y. Tan, Ted Polglaze, and Brian Dawson

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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).

Conclusions:

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.

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Reliability of an In-Water Repeated-Sprint Test for Water Polo

Frankie H. Y. Tan, Ted Polglaze, and Brian Dawson

Time-motion studies indicate the importance of repeated high-intensity activities during water polo match play. The purpose of this study was to assess the reliability of an in-water repeated-sprint test, which comprised 6 × 10-m all-out sprints, departing every 17 s. This protocol was chosen to replicate the regular intense periods of match play.