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Aitor Iturricastillo, Javier Yanci and Cristina Granados

The aim was to analyze the changes of physical performance and physiological responses during a high-intensity training task in wheelchair basketball (WB) players. Thirteen Spanish first division WB male players participated in this study. A test battery (change of direction ability, sprints, and sled towing) was performed to study neuromuscular responses before (pre) and after (post) the small-sided games (SSG). Furthermore, tympanic temperature and blood lactate concentration were measured before and immediately after players finished the SSG. The SSG tasks consisted in four players against four, 4 bouts of 4 min with 2 min of recovery periods. There was a 1.10% decline in performance in both 5- and 20-m sprints (p < .01; effect size [ES] ≤ 0.14), 1.82% decline in 5-m sled towing (p < .05; ES = 0.18), and 2.68% decline in 20-m sled towing (p < .01; ES = 0.27) between pre- and post-SSG. As in physical performance results, significant differences were observed between pre and post in physiological markers, with increasing tympanic temperature (36.21 ± 0.60 °C to 36.97 ± 0.59 °C; p < .001; ES = 1.27) and blood lactate concentrations (1.95 ± 1.30 mmol/L to 5.84 ± 2.04 mmol/L; p < .001; ES = 2.99) after SSG. The SSG produced a decrease in sprint and sled towing performance after 16 min of intense exercise. Moreover, the decrease in physical performance was accompanied with an increase in physiological responses. These neuromuscular responses could be similar in the real game; thus, coaching staff could benefit from this information when changing bench players.

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Aitor Iturricastillo, Javier Yanci, Cristina Granados and Victoria Goosey-Tolfrey

Purpose:

To describe the objective and subjective match load (ML) of wheelchair basketball (WB) and determine the relationship between session heart-rate (HR) -based ML and rating-of-perceived-exertion (RPE) -based ML methods.

Methods:

HR-based measurements of ML included Edwards ML and Stagno training impulses (TRIMPMOD), while RPE-based ML measurements included respiratory (sRPEres) and muscular (sRPEmus). Data were collected from 10 WB players during a whole competitive season.

Results:

Edwards ML and TRIMPMOD averaged across 16 matches were 255.3 ± 66.3 and 167.9 ± 67.1 AU, respectively. In contrast, sRPEres ML and sRPEmus ML were found to be higher (521.9 ± 188.7 and 536.9 ± 185.8 AU, respectively). Moderate correlations (r = .629–.648, P < .001) between Edwards ML and RPE-based ML methods were found. Moreover, similar significant correlations were also shown between the TRIMPMOD and RPE-based ML methods (r = .627–.668, P < .001). That said, only ≥40% of variance in HR-based ML was explained by RPE-based ML, which could be explained by the heterogeneity of physical-impairment type.

Conclusion:

RPE-based ML methods could be used as an indicator of global internal ML in highly trained WB players.

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Javier Yanci, Daniel Castillo, Aitor Iturricastillo, Tomás Urbán and Raúl Reina

Purpose: To determine and compare the external match load, according to sport class (FT), of footballers with cerebral palsy (CP) during the International Federation of CP Football World Championships Qualification Tournament. Methods: Forty-two international male footballers with CP participated in the data collection. The footballers with CP were classified according to their FT into 3 groups (ie, FT5/6, FT7, and FT8). External match load (ie, total distance covered, distance covered at different speeds, accelerations, decelerations, player load, peak metabolic power, and changes of directions) was collected for both halves during official matches with global positioning system devices. Results: Players with lower impairment (FT8) covered more distance (effect size = 0.30–0.60) at high-intensity running (13.0–18.0 km·h−1) and sprinting (>18.0 km·h−1) and performed more (effect size = 0.29–1.08) accelerations, decelerations, and changes of direction at high intensity in matches than did other players (ie, FT5/6 and FT7 groups). Conclusion: Because high-intensity actions are relevant to football performance and there are differences caused by players’ impairments, the International Federation of CP Football classification protocols should include high-intensity actions during the technical assessment as part of the procedures for determining the sport class of football players with CP.

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Javier Raya-González, Fabio Yuzo Nakamura, Daniel Castillo, Javier Yanci and Maurizio Fanchini

Purpose: To examine the association and predictive ability of internal load markers with regard to noncontact injuries in young elite soccer players. Methods: Twenty-two soccer players (18.6 [0.6] y) who competed in the Spanish U19 League participated in the study. During a full season, noncontact injuries were recorded and, using session rating of perceived exertion, internal weekly load (sum of load of all training sessions and matches for each week) and acute:chronic workload ratio (typically, acute = current week and chronic = rolling 4-wk average) were calculated. A generalized estimating equation analysis was used to examine the association of weekly and acute:chronic load-ratio markers with a noncontact injury in the subsequent week. Load variables were also analyzed for predictive ability with receiver operating characteristic curve and area under the curve. Results: No association was found for weekly load (odds ratio = 1.00; 90% confidence interval, 0.99–1.00) and acute:chronic load ratio (odds ratio = 0.16; 90% confidence interval, 0.01–1.84) with respect to injury occurrence. In addition, the analyzed load markers showed poor ability to predict injury occurrence (area under the curve < .50). Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that internal load markers are not associated with noncontact injuries in young soccer players and present poor predictive capacity with regard to the latter.

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Daniel Castillo, Matthew Weston, Shaun J. McLaren, Jesús Cámara and Javier Yanci

The aims of this study were to describe the internal and external match loads (ML) of refereeing activity during official soccer matches and to investigate the relationship among the methods of ML quantification across a competitive season. A further aim was to examine the usefulness of differential perceived exertion (dRPE) as a tool for monitoring internal ML in soccer referees. Twenty field referees (FRs) and 43 assistant referees (ARs) participated in the study. Data were collected from 30 competitive matches (FR = 20 observations, AR = 43 observations) and included measures of internal (Edwards’ heart-rate-derived training impulse [TRIMPEDW]) ML, external (total distance covered, distance covered at high speeds, and player load) ML, and ML differentiated ratings of perceived respiratory (sRPEres) and leg-muscle (sRPEmus) exertion. Internal and external ML were all greater for FRs than for ARs (–19.7 to –72.5), with differences ranging from very likely very large to most likely extremely large. The relationships between internal-ML and external-ML indicators were, in most cases, unclear for FR (r < .35) and small to moderate for AR (r < .40). The authors found substantial differences between RPEres and RPEmus scores in both FRs (0.6 AU; ±90% confidence limits 0.4 AU) and ARs (0.4; ±0.3). These data demonstrate the multifaceted demands of soccer refereeing and thereby highlight the importance of monitoring both internal and external ML. Moreover, dRPE represents distinct dimensions of effort and may be useful in monitoring soccer referees’ ML during official matches.

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Asier Los Arcos, Alberto Méndez-Villanueva, Javier Yanci and Raúl Martínez-Santos

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to assess the respiratory and muscular session ratings of perceived exertion (PE) after official soccer matches over an extended period of time (ie, 2 competition seasons) in relation to playing time (>20, 20–45, 45–70, and >70 min) and to determine the between-matches variability of both scores in young professional soccer players.

Methods:

Forty players belonging to the same reserve team of a Spanish La Liga club participated in this study. Respiratory and muscular PE were collected 10 min after every game. A total of 841 individual PE ratings were undertaken on outfield players.

Results:

The differences between match respiratory and muscular load differ depending on the playing time, the respiratory PE being greater for the players that competed less than 45 min (effect size = –0.45 ± 0.45 for the 20- to 45-min group) and the muscular PE greater for players that played more than 45 min (effect size = 0.23 ± 0.30, for the 45- to 70-min group). Match-to-match PE variability was considerable (CV = 14–54%) for all levels of participation, but it was lower the longer the players participated.

Conclusions:

Playing time influenced the relative exertion that players’ respiratory and leg musculature were exposed to during a game, suggesting that differential PE scores might provide a more accurate evaluation of match-imposed internal load. However, the small-magnitude differences between respiratory and muscular session ratings of PE observed in the current study might question the practical relevance of assessing both scores.

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Asier Los Arcos, Javier Yanci, Jurdan Mendiguchia, Juan J. Salinero, Matt Brughelli and Carlo Castagna

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of 2 strength and conditioning programs involving either purely vertically oriented or combining vertically and horizontally oriented exercises on soccer-relevant performance variables (ie, acceleration, jumping ability, peak power, and endurance).

Methods:

Twenty-two professional male soccer players were randomly assigned to 2 training groups: vertical strength (VS, n = 11) and vertical and horizontal strength (VHS, n = 11). Players trained 2 times per week during all the preseason (5 wk) and 3 weeks of the competitive season. The effect of the training protocols was assessed using doubleand single-leg vertical countermovement jumps (CMJ), half-squat peak power (PP), sprint performance over 5 and 15 m, and blood lactate concentration at selected running speeds.

Results:

Both groups obtained significant improvements in PP (P < .05; ES = 0.87 and 0.80 for VS and VHS, respectively) and small practical improvements in 5-m- (P < .05; ES = 0.27 and 0.25 for VS and VHS, respectively) and 15-m-sprint time (P < .05; ES = 0.19 and 0.24 for VS and VHS, respectively). The CMJ performance showed a small improvement (P < .05, ES = 0.34) only in the VHS group. Submaximal aerobic-fitness changes were similar in both groups (P < .05; ES = 1.89 and 0 .71 for VS and VHS, respectively).

Conclusion:

This study provided a small amount of practical evidence for the consideration of preseason training protocols that combine exercises for vertical- and horizontal-axis strength development in professional male soccer players. Further studies using more aggressive training protocols involving horizontally oriented conditioning exercises are warranted.

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Milos Mallol, David J. Bentley, Lynda Norton, Kevin Norton, Gaizka Mejuto and Javier Yanci

Purpose: To investigate changes in physiological and performance variables in triathletes following a 4-wk period of reduced training volume and increased training intensity. Methods: Sixteen moderately trained triathletes were randomly allocated to 2 groups: a control (CON) group, which followed their usual training, or a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) group, which completed 2 HIIT sessions per week during 4 wk of reduced training volume Results: Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) increased significantly in the HIIT group (P = .03, d = 0.5) but remained unchanged in the CON group. Cycling power at first and second ventilatory thresholds increased significantly in the HIIT subjects (P = .03, d = 1.0) and was unchanged in the CON participants (P = .57). During the simulated triathlon test, pretest–posttest cycling times and average power were unchanged in both groups (P > .05). No significant interactive effects between groups were observed for running time (P = .50). Conclusion: After a 4-wk HIIT program, VO2max and power at first and second ventilatory thresholds were found to have increased significantly while cycling and running performance were unchanged, despite an overall reduction in training time. In the present study, performance was only shown to improve with usual (high-volume) training. Summarizing, in order to improve running or cycling performances, high-volume training programs are highly recommended.

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Raúl Reina, Aitor Iturricastillo, Rafael Sabido, Maria Campayo-Piernas and Javier Yanci

Purpose: To evaluate the reliability and validity of vertical and horizontal jump tests in football players with cerebral palsy (FPCP) and to analyze the jump performance differences between current International Federation for Cerebral Palsy Football functional classes (ie, FT5–FT8). Methods: A total of 132 international parafootballers (25.8 [6.7] y; 70.0 [9.1] kg; 175.7 [7.3] cm; 22.8 [2.8] kg·m−2; and 10.7 [7.5] y training experience) participated in the study. The participants were classified according to the International Federation for Cerebral Palsy Football classification rules, and a group of 39 players without cerebral palsy was included in the study as a control group. Football players’ vertical and horizontal jump performance was assessed. Results: All the tests showed good to excellent relative intrasession reliability scores, both in FPCP and in the control group (intraclass correlation = .78–.97, SEM < 10.5%). Significant between-groups differences (P < .001) were obtained in the countermovement jump, standing broad jump, 4 bounds for distance, and triple hop for distance dominant leg and nondominant leg. The control group performed higher/farther jumps with regard to all the FPCP classes, obtaining significant differences and moderate to large effect sizes (ESs) (.85 < ES < 5.54, P < .01). Players in FT8 class (less severe impairments) had significantly higher scores in all the jump tests than players in the lower classes (ES = moderate to large, P < .01). Conclusions: The vertical and horizontal jump tests performed in this study could be applied to the classification procedures and protocols for FPCP.

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Aitor Iturricastillo, Cristina Granados, Raúl Reina, José Manuel Sarabia, Ander Romarate and Javier Yanci

Purpose: To analyze the relationship between mean propulsive velocity (MPV) of the bar and relative load (percentage of the 1-repetition maximum [%1RM]) in the bench-press (BP) exercise and to determine the relationship of power variables (ie, mean concentric power [MP], mean propulsive power [MPP], and peak power [PP]) in change-of-direction ability, linear sprint, and repeated-sprint ability. Methods: A total of 9 Spanish First Division wheelchair basketball players participated in the study. All participants performed an isoinertial BP test in free execution mode, a 505 change-of-direction ability test, linear sprint test (20 m), and repeated-sprint ability test. Results: A nearly perfect and inverse relationship was observed for the BP exercise between the %1RM and MPV (r = −.97, R 2 = .945, P < .001). The maximum loads for MP, MPP, and PP were obtained between 48.1% and 59.4% of the 1RM. However, no significant correlations were observed between strength and wheelchair performance. Conclusions: Wheelchair basketball players with different functional impairments showed a nearly perfect and inverse relationship for the BP exercise between the %1RM and MPV; thus the MPV could be used to estimate the %1RM. This finding has important practical applications for velocity-based resistance training in that coaches would be able to prescribe and monitor training load. Conversely, the absence of association between BP performance and field tests might be due to other factors such as the wheelchair–user interface, trunk-muscle activity, or propulsion technique, apart from strength variables.