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Jeremy M. Sheppard, Tim Gabbett and Russell Borgeaud

Purpose:

This case study evaluated the effect of repeated lateral movement and jumping training on repeated effort ability in a group of national team male volleyball players.

Methods:

Twelve volleyball players were assessed on their volleyball-specific repeated movement and jumping abilities using a volleyball-specific repeated effort test (RET) before and after 12 weeks of training. The athletes performed between 8 and 9 volleyball training sessions per week, with 5 to 6 of these sessions including specific training aimed at improving repeated effort ability. Typically these training sessions involved 8 to 12 repetitions of 2 to 3 block jumps over a 9-m lateral distance (ie, the athletes had to perform jumps and lateral movements, typical of front court play in volleyball). Population-specific repeatability data were used to determine whether any changes that may have occurred in this study were beyond the minimal clinically important difference (MCID) for this testing procedure.

Results:

Improvements in all variables of the RET were observed for each athlete involved in the study, with a small-to-moderate magnitude observed for the mean changes in each variable (Cohen’s d, 0.21 to 0.59). All of the improvements in the results exceeded the MCID.

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate that the RET is sensitive to training-induced changes. Lateral movement speed and repeated lateral movement speed, as well as jumping and repeated jumping ability are trainable qualities in high-performance volleyball players.

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Josh L. Secomb, Jeremy M. Sheppard and Ben J. Dascombe

Purpose:

To provide a descriptive and quantitative time–motion analysis of surfing training with the use of global positioning system (GPS) and heart-rate (HR) technology.

Methods:

Fifteen male surfing athletes (22.1 ± 3.9 y, 175.4 ± 6.4 cm, 72.5 ± 7.7 kg) performed a 2-h surfing training session, wearing both a GPS unit and an HR monitor. An individual digital video recording was taken of the entire surfing duration. Repeated-measures ANOVAs were used to determine any effects of time on the physical and physiological measures.

Results:

Participants covered 6293.2 ± 1826.1 m during the 2-h surfing training session and recorded measures of average speed, HRaverage, and HRpeak as 52.4 ± 15.2 m/min, 128 ± 13 beats/min, and 171 ± 12 beats/min, respectively. Furthermore, the relative mean times spent performing paddling, sprint paddling to catch waves, stationary, wave riding, and recovery of the surfboard were 42.6% ± 9.9%, 4.1% ± 1.2%, 52.8% ± 12.4%, 2.5% ± 1.9%, and 2.1% ± 1.7%, respectively.

Conclusion:

The results demonstrate that a 2-h surfing training session is performed at a lower intensity than competitive heats. This is likely due to the onset of fatigue and a pacing strategy used by participants. Furthermore, surfing training sessions do not appear to appropriately condition surfers for competitive events. As a result, coaches working with surfing athletes should consider altering training sessions to incorporate repeated-effort sprint paddling to more effectively physically prepare surfers for competitive events.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, Rich D. Johnston and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

This study examined the relationships between tackling ability, playing position, muscle strength and power qualities, and match-play tackling performance in semiprofessional rugby league players.

Methods:

Sixteen semiprofessional rugby league players (mean ± SD age 23.8 ± 1.9 y) underwent tests for muscle strength and power. Tackling ability of the players was tested using video analysis of a standardized 1-on-1 tackling drill. After controlling for playing position, players were divided into “good tackler” or “poor tackler” groups based on the median split of the results of the 1-on-1 tackling drill. A total of 4547 tackles were analyzed from video recordings of 23 matches played throughout the season.

Results:

Maximal squat was significantly associated with tackling ability (r S = .71, P < .05) and with the proportion of dominant tackles (r S = .63, P < .01). Forwards performed more tackles (P = .013, ES = 1.49), with a lower proportion of missed tackles (P = .03, ES = 1.38) than backs. Good tacklers were involved in a larger proportion of dominant tackles and smaller proportion of missed tackles than poor tacklers.

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate that lower-body strength contributes to more effective tackling performance during both a standardized tackling assessment and match play. Furthermore, players with good tackling ability in a proficiency test were involved in a higher proportion of dominant tackles and missed a smaller proportion of tackles during match play. These results provide further evidence of the practical utility of an off-field tackling assessment in supplying information predictive of tackling performance in competition.

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Tyler L. Goodale, Tim J. Gabbett, Ming-Chang Tsai, Trent Stellingwerff and Jeremy Sheppard

Purpose:

To evaluate the effects of contextual game factors on activity and physiological profiles of international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty international-level female rugby sevens players from the same national team participated in this study. Global positioning system and heart-rate data were collected at 5 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series events (2013–14 season).

Results:

Total, moderate-speed (0.2–3.5 m/s), and high-speed running (3.5–5.0 m/s) distances were significantly greater in the first half (20.1% ± 4.1%, 17.6% ± 6.9%, 24.5% ± 7.8%), during losses (11.4% ± 6.1%, 6.1% ± 6.4%, 26.9% ± 9.8%), during losses of large magnitudes (≥2 tries) (12.9% ± 8.8%, 6.8% ± 10.0%, 31.2% ± 14.9%), and against top-4 opponents (12.6% ± 8.7%, 11.3% ± 8.5%, 15.5% ± 13.9%). In addition, total distance increased (5.0% ± 5.5%) significantly from day 1 to day 2 of tournaments, and very-high-speed (5.0–6.5 m/s) running distance increased significantly (26.0% ± 14.2%) during losses. Time spent between 90% and 100% of maximum heart rate (16.4% ± 14.5%) and player load (19.0% ± 5.1%) were significantly greater in the second half. No significant differences in physiological or activity profiles were observed between forwards and backs.

Conclusions:

Game half, game outcome, tournament day, opponent rank, and margin of outcome all affected activity profiles, whereas game half affected physiological profiles. No differences in activity or physiological profiles were found between playing positions. Practitioners are advised to develop high-speed running ability in women’s rugby sevens players to prepare them to tolerate the varying factors that affect activity profiles.

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Kieran P. Young, G. Gregory Haff, Robert U. Newton, Tim J. Gabbett and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

To evaluate whether the dynamic strength index (DSI: ballistic peak force/isometric peak force) could be effectively used to guide specific training interventions and detect training-induced changes in maximal and ballistic strength.

Methods:

Twenty-four elite male athletes were assessed in the isometric bench press and a 45% 1-repetition-maximum (1RM) ballistic bench throw using a force plate and linear position transducer. The DSI was calculated using the peak force values obtained during the ballistic bench throw and isometric bench press. Athletes were then allocated into 2 groups as matched pairs based on their DSI and strength in the 1RM bench press. Over the 5 wk of training, athletes performed either high-load (80–100% 1RM) bench press or moderate-load (40–55% 1RM) ballistic bench throws.

Results:

The DSI was sensitive to disparate training methods, with the bench-press group increasing isometric bench-press peak force (P = .035, 91% likely), and the ballistic-bench-throw group increasing bench-throw peak force to a greater extent (P ≤ .001, 83% likely). A significant increase (P ≤ .001, 93% likely) in the DSI was observed for both groups.

Conclusions:

The DSI can be used to guide specific training interventions and can detect training-induced changes in isometric bench-press and ballistic bench-throw peak force over periods as short as 5 wk.

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Kristie-Lee Taylor, John Cronin, Nicholas D. Gill, Dale W. Chapman and Jeremy Sheppard

Purpose:

This investigation aimed to quantify the typical variation for kinetic and kinematic variables measured during loaded jump squats.

Methods:

Thirteen professional athletes performed six maximal effort countermovement jumps on four occasions. Testing occurred over 2 d, twice per day (8 AM and 2 PM) separated by 7 d, with the same procedures replicated on each occasion. Jump height, peak power (PP), relative peak power (RPP), mean power (MP), peak velocity (PV), peak force (PF), mean force (MF), and peak rate of force development (RFD) measurements were obtained from a linear optical encoder attached to a 40 kg barbell.

Results:

A diurnal variation in performance was observed with afternoon values displaying an average increase of 1.5–5.6% for PP, RPP, MP, PV, PF, and MF when compared with morning values (effect sizes ranging from 0.2–0.5). Day to day reliability was estimated by comparing the morning trials (AM reliability) and the afternoon trials (PM reliability). In both AM and PM conditions, all variables except RFD demonstrated coefficients of variations ranging between 0.8–6.2%. However, for a number of variables (RPP, MP, PV and height), AM reliability was substantially better than PM. PF and MF were the only variables to exhibit a coefficient of variation less than the smallest worthwhile change in both conditions.

Discussion:

Results suggest that power output and associated variables exhibit a diurnal rhythm, with improved performance in the afternoon. Morning testing may be preferable when practitioners are seeking to conduct regular monitoring of an athlete’s performance due to smaller variability.

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Tyler L. Goodale, Tim J. Gabbett, Trent Stellingwerff, Ming-Chang Tsai and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

To investigate the physical qualities that differentiate playing minutes in international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty-four national-level female rugby sevens players underwent measurements of anthropometry, acceleration, speed, lower- and upper-body strength, lower-body power, and aerobic fitness. Playing minutes in international competition were used to differentiate players into 2 groups, a high- or low-playing-minutes group. Playing minutes were related to team selection, which was determined by the coaching staff. Playing minutes were therefore used to differentiate performance levels.

Results:

Players in the high-playing-minutes group (≥70 min) were older (mean ± SD 24.3 ± 3.1 vs 21.2 ± 4.3 y, P = .05, effect size [ES] = 0.77 ± 0.66, 90% confidence limit) and had greater experience in a national-training-center environment (2.4 ± 0.8 vs 1.7 ± 0.9 y, P = .03, ES = 0.83 ± 0.65), faster 1600-m time (374.5 ± 20.4 vs 393.5 ± 29.8 s, P = .09, ES = –0.70 ± 0.68), and greater 1-repetition-maximum upper-body strength (bench press 68.4 ± 6.3 vs 62.2 ± 8.1 kg, P = .07, ES = 0.80 ± 0.70, and neutral-grip pull-up 84.0 ± 8.2 vs 79.1 ± 5.4 kg, P = .12, ES = 0.68 ± 0.72) than athletes who played fewer minutes. Age (rs = .59 ± ~.28), training experience (rs = .57 ± ~.29), bench press (r = .44 ± ~.36), and 1600-m time (r = –.43 ± ~.34) were significantly associated with playing minutes. Neutral-grip pull-up and bench press contributed significantly to a discriminant analysis. The average squared canonical correlation was .46. The discriminant analysis predicted 7 of 9 and 6 of 10 high- and low-playing-minutes athletes, respectively.

Conclusions:

Age, training experience, upper-body strength, and aerobic fitness differentiated athlete playing minutes in international women’s rugby sevens.

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Jeremy M. Sheppard, Tim Gabbett, Kristie-Lee Taylor, Jason Dorman, Alexis J. Lebedew and Russell Borgeaud

Purpose:

The authors conducted a study to develop a repeated-effort test for international men’s volleyball. The test involved jumping and movement activity that was specific to volleyball, using durations and rest periods that replicated the demands of a match.

Methods:

A time–motion analysis was performed on a national team and development national team during international matches to determine the demands of competition and thereby form the basis of the rationale in designing the repeated-effort test. An evaluation of the test for reliability and validity in discriminating between elite and sub-elite players was performed.

Results:

The test jump height and movement-speed test parameters were highly reliable, with findings of high intraclass correlations (ICCs) and low typical errors of measurement (TE; ICC .93 to .95 and %TE 0.54 to 2.44). The national team’s ideal and actual jump height and ideal and actual speeds, mean ± SD, were 336.88 ± 8.31 cm, 329.91 ± 6.70 cm, 6.83 ± 0.34 s, and 7.14 ± 0.34 s, respectively. The development national team’s ideal and actual jump heights and ideal and actual speeds were 330.88 ± 9.09 cm, 323.80 ± 7.74 cm, 7.41 ± 0.56 s, and 7.66 ± 0.56 s, respectively. Probabilities of differences between groups for ideal jump, actual jump, ideal time, and actual time were 82%, 95%, 92%, and 96%, respectively, with a Cohen effect-size statistic supporting large magnitudes (0.69, 0.84, 1.34, and 1.13, respectively).

Conclusion:

The results of this study demonstrate that the developed test offers a reliable and valid method of assessing repeated-effort ability in volleyball players.

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Kieran P. Young, G. Gregory Haff, Robert U. Newton and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the reliability of an isometric-bench-press (IBP) test performed across 4 elbow angles and a ballistic bench throw (BBT) using a relative load, as well as evaluating the reliability of the dynamic strength index (DSI: BBT peak force/IBP peak force).

Methods:

Twenty-four elite male athletes performed the IBP and a 45% 1-repetition-maximum BBT on 2 separate days with 48 h between testing occasions. Peak force, peak power, peak velocity, peak displacement, and peak rate of force development (PRFD) were assessed using a force plate and linear position transducer. Reliability was assessed by intraclass correlation (ICC), coefficient of variation (%CV) and typical error.

Results:

Performance measures in the BBT, such as peak force, peak velocity, peak power, and peak displacement, were considered reliable (ICC = .85–.92, %CV = 1.7–3.3), while PRFD was not (ICC = .43, %CV = 4.1). Similarly, for the IBP, peak force across all angles was considered reliable (ICC = .89–.97, %CV = 1.2–1.6), while PRFD was not (ICC = .56–.65, %CV = 0.5–7.6). The DSI was also reliable (ICC = .93, %CV = 3.5).

Conclusions:

Performance measures such as peak force in the IBP and BBT are reliable when assessing upper-body pressing-strength qualities in elite male athletes. Furthermore, the DSI is reliable and could potentially be used to detect qualities of relative deficiency and guide specific training interventions.

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Ina Janssen, Jeremy M. Sheppard, Andrew A. Dingley, Dale W. Chapman and Wayne Spratford

Countermovement jumps loaded with a weighted vest are often used for the training of lower body power to improve jump performance. However, it is currently unknown how this added load affects the lower extremity kinematics and kinetics, in particular whether this results in an increased injury risk. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to determine how lower extremity kinematics and kinetics during landing are affected by loaded jumps as demonstrated in a volleyball block jump landing. Ten elite male volleyball players performed block jump landings in an unloaded and loaded (9.89 kg) condition. Kinematic and kinetic landing data from the three highest jumps were collected and assessed. Paired samples t test was used to establish whether load condition had a significant effect on lower extremity kinematics and kinetics. Hip flexion was significantly greater in the unloaded condition compared with the loaded condition (p = .004). There was no significant difference in any other kinematic or kinetic variables measures between the unloaded and loaded conditions. These results suggest that landing from loaded volleyball block jumps does not increase injury risk compared with unloaded jumps in elite male volleyball players.