Purpose: Investigations into the specificity of rugby union training practices in preparation for competitive demands have predominantly focused on physical and physiological demands. The evaluation of the contextual variance in perceptual strain or skill requirements between training and matches in rugby union is unclear, yet holistic understanding may assist to optimize training design. This study evaluated the specificity of physical, physiological, perceptual, and skill demands of training sessions compared with competitive match play in preprofessional, elite club rugby union. Methods: Global positioning system devices, video capture, heart rate, and session ratings of perceived exertion were used to assess movement patterns, skill completions, physiologic, and perceptual responses, respectively. Data were collected across a season (training sessions n = 29; matches n = 14). Participants (n = 32) were grouped in playing positions as: outside backs, centers, halves, loose forwards, lock forwards, and front row forwards. Results: Greater total distance, low-intensity activity, maximal speed, and meters per minute were apparent in matches compared with training in all positions (P < .02; d > 0.90). Similarly, match heart rate and session ratings of perceived exertion responses were higher than those recorded in training (P < .05; d > 0.8). Key skill completions for forwards (ie, scrums, rucks, and lineouts) and backs (ie, kicks) were greater under match conditions than in training (P < .001; d > 1.50). Conclusion: Considerable disparities exist between the perceptual, physiological, and key skill demands of competitive matches versus training sessions in preprofessional rugby union players. Practitioners should consider the specificity of training tasks for preprofessional rugby players to ensure the best preparation for match demands.
Patrick G. Campbell, Jonathan M. Peake and Geoffrey M. Minett
Melissa Skein, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, Alanna Snape and Alistair Murphy
This study examined the effects of overnight sleep deprivation on recovery after competitive rugby league matches.
Eleven male amateur rugby league players played 2 competitive matches, followed by either a normal night’s sleep (~8 h; CONT) or a sleep-deprived night (~0 h; SDEP) in a randomized fashion. Testing was conducted the morning of the match, immediately postmatch, 2 h postmatch, and the next morning (16 h postmatch). Measures included countermovement-jump (CMJ) distance, knee-extensor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and voluntary activation (VA), venous-blood creatine kinase (CK) and C-reactive protein (CRP), perceived muscle soreness, and a word–color recognition cognitive-function test. Percent change between postmatch and 16-h postmatch was reported to determine the effect of the intervention the next morning.
Large effects indicated a greater postmatch to 16-h-postmatch percentage decline in CMJ distance after SDEP than in CONT (P = .10–.16, d = 0.95–1.05). Similarly, the percentage decline in incongruent word–color reaction times was increased in SDEP trials (P = .007, d = 1.75). Measures of MVC did not differ between conditions (P = .40–.75, d = 0.13–0.33), although trends for larger percentage decline in VA were detected in SDEP (P = .19, d = 0.84). Furthermore, large effects indicated higher CK and CRP responses 16 h postmatch in SDEP than in CONT (P = .11–.87, d = 0.80–0.88).
Sleep deprivation negatively affected recovery after a rugby league match, specifically impairing CMJ distance and cognitive function. Practitioners should promote adequate postmatch sleep patterns or adjust training demands the next day to accommodate the altered physical and cognitive state after sleep deprivation.
Jessica M. Stephens, Ken Sharpe, Christopher Gore, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Nathan Versey, Jeremiah Peiffer, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, David Crampton, Alan Dunne, Christopher D. Askew and Shona L. Halson
Purpose: To examine the effect of postexercise cold-water immersion (CWI) protocols, compared with control (CON), on the magnitude and time course of core temperature (T c) responses. Methods: Pooled-data analyses were used to examine the T c responses of 157 subjects from previous postexercise CWI trials in the authors’ laboratories. CWI protocols varied with different combinations of temperature, duration, immersion depth, and mode (continuous vs intermittent). T c was examined as a double difference (ΔΔT c), calculated as the change in T c in CWI condition minus the corresponding change in CON. The effect of CWI on ΔΔT c was assessed using separate linear mixed models across 2 time components (component 1, immersion; component 2, postintervention). Results: Intermittent CWI resulted in a mean decrease in ΔΔT c that was 0.25°C (0.10°C) (estimate [SE]) greater than continuous CWI during the immersion component (P = .02). There was a significant effect of CWI temperature during the immersion component (P = .05), where reductions in water temperature of 1°C resulted in decreases in ΔΔT c of 0.03°C (0.01°C). Similarly, the effect of CWI duration was significant during the immersion component (P = .01), where every 1 min of immersion resulted in a decrease in ΔΔT c of 0.02°C (0.01°C). The peak difference in T c between the CWI and CON interventions during the postimmersion component occurred at 60 min postintervention. Conclusions: Variations in CWI mode, duration, and temperature may have a significant effect on the extent of change in T c. Careful consideration should be given to determine the optimal amount of core cooling before deciding which combination of protocol factors to prescribe.