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Christine E. Dziedzic and Dean G. Higham

Rugby sevens is an abbreviated version of rugby union, played by teams of seven players over 7-min halves. International competitions are usually played in a tournament format. While shorter in duration, the movement demands of rugby sevens per min of match time are greater than rugby union, resulting in an accentuated load on players. This load can be repeated up to six times over a typical 2- or 3-day competition period. The potential cumulative effect of inadequate carbohydrate, protein and/or fluid intake over the course of a tournament is the greatest nutrition-related concern for players. Nutritional strategies before and during competition are suggested to replenish substrate stores, maintain fluid balance and promote recovery between matches. The use of ergogenic aids known to enhance intermittent, high-intensity activity and/or the execution of motor skills may be advantageous to rugby sevens performance and is discussed. This review provides a best-practice model of nutritional support for international rugby sevens competition based on our current understanding of the sport combined with pragmatic guidelines and considerations for the practitioner.

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Dean G. Higham, Geraldine A. Naughton, Lauren A. Burt and Xiaocai Shi

The aim of this study was to compare daily hydration profiles of competitive adolescent swimmers and less active maturation- and sex-matched controls. Hydration profiles of 35 competitive adolescent swimmers (male n = 18, female n = 17) and 41 controls (male n = 29, female n = 12) were monitored on 4 consecutive days. First morning hydration status was determined independently by urine specific gravity (USG) and urine color. Changes in fluid balance were estimated during the school day and in training sessions after adjusting for self-reported urine losses and fluid intake. Urinalyses revealed consistent fluid deficits (USG >1.020, urine color ≥5) independent of activity group, sex, and day of testing (hypohydration in 73–85% of samples, p > .05). Fluid balance and intake were observed over typical school days in males and females from the 2 groups. During training, male swimmers lost more fluid relative to initial body mass but drank no more than females. Although both activity groups began each testing day with a similar hydration status, training induced significant variations in fluid balance in the swimmers compared with controls. Despite minimal fluid losses during individual training sessions (<2% body mass), these deficits significantly increased fluid needs for young swimmers over the school day.

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Dean G. Higham, David B. Pyne, Judith M. Anson and Anthony Eddy

Although the characteristics of 15-a-side rugby union players have been well defined, there is little information on rugby sevens players.

Purpose:

The authors profiled the anthropometric, physiological, and performance qualities of elite-level rugby sevens players and quantified relationships between these characteristics.

Methods:

Eighteen male international rugby sevens players undertook anthropometric (body mass, height, sum of 7 skinfolds, lean-mass index), acceleration and speed (40-m sprint), muscle-power (vertical jump), repeatedsprint- ability (6 × 30-m sprint), and endurance (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test and treadmill VO2max) testing. Associations between measurements were assessed by correlation analysis.

Results:

Rugby sevens players had anthropometric characteristics (body mass 89.7 ± 7.6 kg, height 1.83 ± 0.06 m, sum of 7 skinfolds 52.2 ± 11.5 mm; mean ± SD) similar to those of backs in international 15-player rugby union. Acceleration and speed (40-m sprint 5.11 ± 0.15 s), muscle-power (vertical jump 66 ± 7 cm), and endurance (VO2max 53.8 ± 3.4 mL · kg−1 · min−1 ) qualities were similar to, or better than, those of professional 15-a-side players. Coefficients of variation ranged from 2.5% to 22%. Relative VO2max was largely correlated with Yo-Yo distance (r = .60, .21−.82; 90% confidence interval) and moderately correlated with 40-m sprint time (r = −.46, −.75 to −.02) and repeated-sprint ability (r = −.38, −.72 to .09).

Conclusions:

International rugby sevens players require highly developed speed, power, and endurance to tolerate the demands of competition. The small between-athletes variability of characteristics in rugby sevens players highlights the need for relatively uniform physical and performance standards in contrast with 15-a-side players.