The aim of this study was to examine the impact of maximum sprint speed on peak and mean sprint speed during youth female field hockey matches. Two high-level female field hockey teams (U-17, n = 24, and U-21, n = 20) were monitored during a 4-game international test series using global position system technology and tested for maximum sprint speed. Dependent variables were compared using a 3-factor ANOVA (age group, position, and speed classification); effect sizes (Cohen d) and confidence limits were also calculated. Maximum sprint speed was similar between age groups and positions, with faster players having greater speed than slower players (29.3 ± 0.4 vs 27.2 ± 1.1 km/h). Overall, peak match speed in youth female field hockey players reaches approximately 90% of maximum sprint speed. Absolute peak match speed and mean sprint speed during matches were similar among the age groups (except match 1) and positions (except match 2); however, peak match speed was greater for faster players in matches 3 and 4. No differences were observed in the relative proportion for mean sprint speeds for age groups or positions, but slower players consistently displayed similar relative mean sprint speeds by using a greater proportion of their maximum sprint speed.
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Jason D. Vescovi and Greig Watson
This field-based observational study was designed to examine the intraindividual variation of first morning body mass and urine specific gravity (Usg) in male hockey players (n = 22) during a 10-day training camp. It was also designed to evaluate the prevalence and interrelationship of morning hypohydration and postmatch dehydration using Usg and changes in body mass, respectively. Body mass and Usg were measured upon waking; body mass was also measured before and after matches. Individual means, SD, and coefficient of variation (CV) were calculated for morning body mass and Usg using 3, 6, and 8 days. Daily prevalence for euhydration and postmatch dehydration using morning Usg (<1.020) and changes in body mass (>−2%), respectively, were determined. Measurement of morning body mass and Usg for 3 days had low variability (CV < 1%) with no improvement at 6 or 8 days. Between 36% and 73% of players were considered euhydrated based on morning Usg. Postmatch body mass was reduced >1% in 50–85% of players, with up to 40% experiencing changes >−2%. Postmatch changes in body mass were unrelated to Usg the subsequent morning. These outcomes can be helpful in establishing criteria for detecting meaningful changes in morning body mass and Usg in similar settings, helping to monitor hydration status in elite male athletes. Despite ample fluid availability and consumption, many players experienced hypohydration and dehydration during the camp, indicating that careful monitoring and an individual fluid replacement approach are warranted in these environments.
Jason D. Vescovi and Terence G. Favero
To quantify the locomotor demands of college female soccer matches and compare the relative proportion of distances in specified velocity bands between players completing an entire half with substitutes.
College female soccer players (n = 113) were assessed during a regular-season match using global positioning system technology. An ANCOVA was used to compare the locomotor characteristics for positions and substitutes, adjusting for duration played. Paired t tests compared the proportion of distances for players substituted out and back into the second half.
Defenders covered less total absolute distance than midfielders (first half) and midfielders and forwards (second half) with concomitantly lower work rates. Moderate- and high-intensity running were similar between positions within each half. Midfielders substituted into the match had a lower proportion of moderate-intensity running than those substituted out (15% ± 1.8% vs 19% ± 0.9%), and defenders completing an entire first half had a lower proportion of high-intensity running than defenders substituted in or out (6% ± 1.0% vs 11% ± 1.0% and 16% ± 2.8%). There were no differences in the proportion of distances covered within each velocity band for any position in the second half or for the players substituted out and then back in during the second half.
The current findings provide novel insight linking the developmental progression between youth and high-level matches for overall demands and work rates. Moderate- and high-intensity distances cumulatively range from 2100 to 2600 m (26–28% total distance) in female college matches. The high amount of consistency observed for the proportions of distance covered suggest that substitution patterns have little impact on locomotor distribution.
Jason D. Vescovi and Jaci L. VanHeest
This observational case study examined the association of inter- and intraday energy intake and exercise energy expenditure with bone health, menstrual status and hematological factors in a female triathlete. The study spanned 7 months whereby energy intake and exercise energy expenditure were monitored three times (13 d); 16 blood samples were taken, urinary hormones were assessed for 3 months, and bone mineral density was measured twice. Energy availability tended to be sustained below 30 kcal/kg FFM/d and intraday energy intake patterns were often “back-loaded” with approximately 46% of energy consumed after 6 p.m. Most triiodothyronine values were low (1.1–1.2nmol/L) and supportive of reduced energy availability. The athlete had suppressed estradiol (105.1 ± 71.7pmol/L) and progesterone (1.79 ±1.19nmol/L) concentrations as well as urinary sex-steroid metabolites during the entire monitoring period. Lumbar spine (L1-L4) bone mineral density was low (age-matched Z-score −1.4 to −1.5). Despite these health related maladies the athlete was able to perform typical weekly training loads (swim: 30–40 km, bike: 120–300 km, run 45–70 km) and was competitive as indicated by her continued improvement in ITU World Ranking during and beyond the assessment period. There is a delicate balance between health and performance that can become blurred especially for endurance athletes. Education (athletes, coaches, parents) and continued monitoring of specific indicators will enable evidence-based recommendations to be provided and help reduced the risk of health related issues while maximizing performance gains. Future research needs to longitudinally examine how performance on standardized tests in each discipline (e.g., 800-m swim, 20-km time trial, 5-km run) is impacted when aspects of the female athlete triad are present.
Jason D. Vescovi and Devon H. Frayne
To examine locomotor demands and metabolic-power characteristics of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) field hockey matches.
Using a cross-sectional design, global positioning system (GPS) technology tracked Division I field hockey players from 6 teams during 1 regular-season match (68 player observations). An ANOVA compared locomotor demands and metabolic-power characteristics among positions. Paired t tests compared dependent variables between halves.
Defenders played 5−6 min more than midfielders, whereas midfielders played 6−7 min more than forwards. Defenders covered less relative distance (98 m/min) than forwards and midfielders (110−111 m/min), as well as more low-intensity running than forwards and less high-intensity running than midfielders. Lower mean metabolic power (9.3 W/kg) was observed for defenders than forwards and midfielders (10.4 W/kg). There was no difference in playing time between halves; however, all 3 positions had a reduction in relative distance (7−9%) and mean metabolic power (8−9%) during the second half.
Despite more playing time, defenders covered less relative distance and had lower mean metabolic power than other positions. Moderate-intensity, high-intensity, and sprint distance were similar between positions, highlighting the greater relative demands on forwards because they tended to have the least amount of playing time. The reduction of key metrics during the second half was similar among positions and warrants further investigation. These initial results can be used to design position-specific drills or create small-sided games that replicate match demands for NCAA athletes, thus helping establish strategies for developing physiological ability of players at this level.
Paul S. Bradley and Jason D. Vescovi
There is no methodological standardization of velocity thresholds for the quantification of distances covered in various locomotor activities for women’s soccer matches, especially for high-speed running and sprinting. Applying velocity thresholds used for motion analysis of men’s soccer has likely created skewed observations about high-intensity movement demands for the women’s game because these thresholds do not accurately reflect the capabilities of elite female players. Subsequently, a cohesive view of the locomotor characteristics of women’s soccer does not yet exist. The aim of this commentary is to provide suggestions for standardizing high-speed running and sprint velocity thresholds specific to women’s soccer. The authors also comment on using generic vs individualized thresholds, as well as age-related considerations, to establish velocity thresholds.
Jason D. Vescovi, Olesya Falenchuk, and Greg D. Wells
Blood lactate concentration, [BLa], after swimming events might be influenced by demographic features and characteristics of the swim race, whereas active recovery enhances blood lactate removal. Our aims were to (1) examine how sex, age, race distance, and swim stroke influenced [BLa] after competitive swimming events and (2) develop a practical model based on recovery swim distance to optimize blood lactate removal.
We retrospectively analyzed postrace [BLa] from 100 swimmers who competed in the finals at the Canadian Swim Championships. [BLa] was also assessed repeatedly during the active recovery. Generalized estimating equations were used to evaluate the relationship between postrace [BLa] with independent variables.
Postrace [BLa] was highest following 100–200 m events and lowest after 50 and 1500 m races. A sex effect for postrace [BLa] was observed only for freestyle events. There was a negligible effect of age on postrace [BLa]. A model was developed to estimate an expected change in [BLa] during active recovery (male = 0; female = 1): [BLa] change after active recovery = –3.374 + (1.162 × sex) + (0.789 × postrace [BLa]) + (0.003 × active recovery distance).
These findings indicate that swimmers competing at an elite standard display similar postrace [BLa] and that there is little effect of age on postrace [BLa] in competitive swimmers aged 14 to 29 y.
Jason D. Vescovi, Teena M. Murray, and Jaci L. VanHeest
The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether positional profiling is possible for elite ice hockey players by examining anthropometric characteristics and physiological performance. In addition, performance ranges and percentiles were determined for each position (forwards, defensemen, and goalkeepers) on all dependent variables.
A retrospective, cross-sectional study design was used with performance data from ice hockey players (mean age = 18.0 ± 0.6 years) attending the 2001 (n = 74), 2002 (n = 84), and 2003 (n = 92) Combines. Four anthropometric characteristics and 12 performance tests were the dependent variables. A 3 × 3 (position × year) 2-way ANOVA was used to determine whether any significant interactions were present. No significant interactions were observed, so the data were collapsed over the 3-year period and positional characteristics were analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA.
Defenders were heavier and/or taller compared with the other 2 positions (P ≤ .01), whereas goalkeepers showed greater body-fat percentage compared with that of forwards (P = .001). It was found that goalkeepers had significantly lower strength measures for the upper body (P ≤ .043) and lower anaerobic capacity (P ≤ .039) values compared with at least one other position, but they had greater flexibility (P ≤ .013). No positional differences were observed for the broad jump, vertical jump, aerobic power, or curl-ups.
The current findings provide evidence supporting the use of anthropometric measurements, upper body strength, and anaerobic capacity to effectively distinguish among positions for elite-level ice hockey players.
Mário C. Marques, Roland van den Tillaar, Jason D. Vescovi, and Juan José González-Badillo
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between ball-throwing velocity during a 3-step running throw and dynamic strength, power, and bar velocity during a concentric-only bench-press exercise in team-handball players.
Fourteen elite senior male team-handball players volunteered to participate. Each volunteer had power and bar velocity measured during a concentric-only bench-press test with 26, 36, and 46 kg, as well as having 1-repetition-maximum (1-RMBP) strength determined. Ball-throwing velocity was evaluated with a standard 3-step running throw using a radar gun.
Ball-throwing velocity was related to the absolute load lifted during the 1-RMBP (r = .637, P = .014), peak power using 36 kg (r = .586, P = .028) and 46 kg (r = .582, P = .029), and peak bar velocity using 26 kg (r = .563, P = .036) and 36 kg (r = .625, P = .017).
The results indicate that throwing velocity of elite team-handball players is related to maximal dynamic strength, peak power, and peak bar velocity. Thus, a training regimen designed to improve ball-throwing velocity in elite male team-handball players should include exercises that are aimed at increasing both strength and power in the upper body.
Jason D. Vescovi, Teena M. Murray, Kelly A. Fiala, and Jaci L. VanHeest
The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether tests performed at the National Hockey League (NHL) Combine could distinguish draft status (ie, the round selected). A secondary aim was to provide performance ranges and percentiles for each of the dependent variables.
A retrospective, cross-sectional study design was used with performance data and draft order from 2001, 2002, and 2003 Combine participants. Draft round was divided into 5 classifications (rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 through 9), and performances on 12 physical tests served as dependent variables. Three multiple analyses of covariance (MANCOVAs) were used to determine the significance of performance scores at the NHL Combine on draft selection. Age (years), body mass (kg), height (cm), and percentage body fat were treated as covariates.
Overall, MANCOVA results indicated no significant effect of performance on draft selection for 2001, 2002, or 2003. Subsequent univariate tests revealed that no single dependent variable was able to distinguish between draft rounds for any of the 3 years sampled.
Using draft status as an indicator of ice hockey performance, it appears that off-ice tests cannot accurately predict ice hockey playing ability in an elite group of athletes. This might stem from homogeneity of the Combine participants, a lack of validity of the tests, or other factors (eg, on-ice hockey skills, psychological variables, etc) that play a role in draft selection.