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Utility of an Isometric Midthigh Pull Test to Assess Lower Body Muscular Strength in Professional Netball Players

Luke Hogarth, Mark McKean, Max McKenzie, and Tyler Collings

Purpose: This study established the relationship between isometric midthigh pull (IMTP) peak force and court-based jumping, sprinting, and change of direction (COD) performance in professional netball players. The change in IMTP peak force in response to sport-specific training was also examined. Methods: IMTP peak force and court-based jumping, sprinting, and COD were collected in 18 female athletes contracted to a Suncorp Super Netball team. Linear regression models established the relationship between absolute and normalized strength values and court-based performance measures in the participant cohort. Changes in IMTP peak force and court-based performance measures were examined following 2 consecutive preseason training blocks in a subset of participants. Results: The IMTP peak force values normalized to body mass were found to be determinants of court-based jumping, sprinting, and COD performance in the participant cohort (R 2 = .34–.65, P ≤ .016). The participants showed increases in absolute (mean ± SE = 398 ± 68.5 N, P < .001, Hedge g = 0.70 [−0.05 to 1.35]) and normalized IMTP peak force (mean ± SE = 4.6 ± 0.78 N·kg−1, P < .001, Hedge g = 0.47 [−0.04 to 0.97]) over 2 consecutive training blocks that coincided with improvements in jumping, sprinting, and COD performances. Conclusion: IMTP peak force is a determinant of court-based jumping, sprinting, and COD performance and is sensitive to training in professional netball players. These results support the utility of the IMTP test to monitor the development and maintenance of maximal lower body muscular strength in these athletes.

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Neuromuscular and Perceptual Fatigue Responses to Consecutive Tag Football Matches

Luke W. Hogarth, Brendan J. Burkett, and Mark R. McKean

Purpose:

To examine the neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses to consecutive tag football matches played on the same day and determine the relationship between fatigue and match running performance.

Methods:

Neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses of 15 national tag football players were assessed before and during the 2014 State of Origin tournament. Global positioning systems (GPS) provided data on players’ match running performance, and a vertical-jump test and subjective questionnaire were used to assess players’ neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue, respectively.

Results:

There were small to moderate reductions in the majority of match-running-performance variables over consecutive matches, including distance (ES = −0.81), high-speed-running (HSR) distance (ES = −0.51), HSR efforts (ES = −0.64), and maximal accelerations (ES = −0.76). Prematch vertical jump was initially below baseline values before the first match (ES = 0.68−0.88). There were no substantial reductions in vertical-jump performance from baseline values over consecutive matches, although there was a small decline from after match 2 to after match 3 (3.3%; ES = −0.45 ± 0.62). There were progressive reductions in perceived well-being scores after matches 1 (ES = −0.38), 2 (ES = −0.70), and 3 (ES = −1.14). There were small to moderate associations between changes in fatigue measures and match running performance.

Conclusions:

Perceptual fatigue accumulates over consecutive tag football matches, although there were only marginal increases in neuromuscular fatigue. However, both neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue measures were found to contribute to reduced match running performance in the final match.

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Maximal Fully Tethered Swim Performance in Para Swimmers With Physical Impairment

Luke Hogarth, Brendan Burkett, Peter Van de Vliet, and Carl Payton

The assessment of swimming propulsion should be a cornerstone of Paralympic swimming classification. However, current methods do not objectively account for this component. Purpose: To evaluate the swimming propulsion of swimmers with and without physical impairment using a 30-second maximal fully tethered freestyle swim test. Methods: Tethered forces were recorded during maximal fully tethered swimming in 80 competitive swimmers with (n = 70) and without (n = 10) physical impairment. The relationships between absolute and normalized tether forces and maximal freestyle swim speed were established using general additive models. Results: Para swimmers with physical impairment had lower absolute and normalized tether forces than able-bodied swimmers, and there were moderate positive correlations found between tether forces and sport class (τ = .52–.55, P < .001). There was a nonlinear relationship between tether force and maximal freestyle swim speed in the participant cohort (adjusted R 2 = .78–.80, P < .001). Para swimmers with limb deficiency showed stronger relationships between tether force and maximal freestyle swim speed (adjusted R 2 = .78–.82, P < .001) than did Para swimmers with hypertonia (adjusted R 2 = .54–.73, P < .001) and impaired muscle power (adjusted R 2 = .61–.70, P < .001). Conclusions: Physical impairments affect Para swimmers’ tether forces during maximal fully tethered freestyle swimming, explaining a significant proportion of their activity limitation. It is recommended that maximal fully tethered swimming be included in Paralympic swimming classification as an objective assessment of swimming propulsion.

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Seasonal Changes in Breathing Pattern, Trunk Stabilization, and Muscular Power in Paralympic Swimmers

Luca Cavaggioni, Athos Trecroci, Damiano Formenti, Luke Hogarth, Massimiliano Tosin, and Giampietro Alberti

The purpose of this study was to monitor the changes in breathing pattern, trunk muscle stabilization, and upper-body muscular power in Paralympic swimmers throughout a competitive season over three time points: October (T1), March (T2), and August (T3). Six top-level Paralympic swimmers voluntarily participated in this study. The Friedman test, the Bonferroni–Dunn multiple comparison post hoc analysis, and Kendall’s W concordance coefficient for the measure of effect were used. A significant difference was found in the breathing pattern, trunk stability, and upper-body power variables from the T1 to T3 season (p < .05). However, no significant changes were found in the T2 season. A long-term assessment of these fitness parameters may be of practical importance for better tailoring the training programs of top-level Paralympic swimmers.

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The Impact of an Assistive Pole, Seat Configuration, and Strength in Paralympic Seated Throwing

Alysha Hyde, Luke Hogarth, Mark Sayers, Emma Beckman, Mark J. Connick, Sean Tweedy, and Brendan Burkett

Purpose:

To quantify the influence of the assistive pole, seat configuration, and upper-body and trunk strength on seated-throwing performance in athletes with a spinal-cord injury (SCI).

Methods:

Ten Paralympic athletes competing in wheelchair rugby, basketball, or athletics (seated throws) participated in 2 randomized sessions: seated throwing and strength tests. Participants threw a club from a custom-built throwing chair, with and without a pole. 3D kinematic data were collected (150 Hz) for both conditions using standardized and self-selected seat configurations. Dominant and nondominant grip strength were measured using a dynamometer, and upper-body and trunk strength were measured using isometric contractions against a load cell.

Results:

Seated throwing with an assistive pole resulted in significantly higher hand speed at release than throwing without a pole (pole = 6.0 ± 1.5 m/s, no pole = 5.3 ± 1.5 m/s; P = .02). There was no significant difference in hand speed at release between standardized and self-selected seating configurations during seated throwing with or without an assistive pole. Grip strength (r = .59–.77), push/pull synergy (r = .81–.84), and trunk-flexion (r = .50–.58) strength measures showed large and significant correlations with hand speed at release during seated throwing with and without an assistive pole.

Conclusions:

This study has demonstrated the importance of the pole for SCI athletes in seated throwing and defined the relationship between strength and seated-throwing performance, allowing us to better understand the activity of seated throws and provide measures for assessing strength that may be valid for evidence-based classification.

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Impact of 24-Hr Diet and Physical Activity Control on Short-Term Precision Error of Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry Physique Assessment

Gary J. Slater, Ava Farley, Luke Hogarth, Jose L. Areta, Gøran Paulsen, and Ina Garthe

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a popular technique used to quantify physique in athletic populations. Due to biological variation, DXA precision error (PE) may be higher than desired. Adherence to standardized presentation for testing has shown improvement in consecutive-day PE. However, the impact of short-term diet and physical activity standardization prior to testing has not been explored. This warrants investigation, given the process may reduce variance in total body water and muscle solute, both of which can have high daily flux amongst athletes. Twenty (n = 10 males, n = 10 females) recreationally active individuals (age: 30.7 ± 7.5 years; stature: 176.4 ± 9.1 cm; mass: 74.6 ± 14.3 kg) underwent three DXA scans; two consecutive scans on 1 day, and a third either the day before or after. In addition to adhering to standardized presentation for testing, subjects recorded all food/fluid intake plus activity undertaken in the 24 hr prior to the first DXA scan and replicated this the following 24 hr. International Society of Clinical Densitometry recommended techniques were used to calculate same- and consecutive-day PE. There was no significant difference in PE of whole-body fat mass (479 g vs. 626 g) and lean mass (634 g vs. 734 g) between same- and consecutive-day assessments. Same- and consecutive-day PE of whole-body fat mass and lean mass were less than the smallest effect size of interest. Inclusion of 24-hr standardization of diet and physical activity has the potential to reduce biological error further, but this needs to be verified with follow-up investigation.

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Passive Heating Increases Bench-Pull Power Output in Highly Trained Swimmers

Max R. McKenzie, Luke W. Hogarth, Mark R. McKean, Danielle P. Doyle, and Brendan J. Burkett

Purpose: Determine the effects of skin temperature change on bench-pull power following a passive warm-up intervention with highly trained swimmers using multiple heated clothing garments. Methods: Using a crossover design, 8 high-performance swimmers (mean [SD]; age, 22.4 [4.4] y; body mass, 74.9 [8.1] kg; height, 1.79 [0.09] m; world record ratio, 107.3% [5.1%]) completed a pool-based warm-up followed by a 35-minute transition phase before completing 3 repetitions at 50% of 1-repetition maximum of the bench-pull exercise. During transition, swimmers wore either a warm (control) or a heated (heat) clothing condition. Results: Following heating, mean skin temperature was 0.7 °C higher in heat (P = .011), though no change was seen in tympanic temperature. Bench-pull mean and peak power improved by 4.5% and 4.7% following heating, respectively. A large repeated-measures correlation was observed between skin temperature and mean (r [90% CI] = .94 [.65 to .99], P < .01) and peak (r [90% CI] = .89 [.45 to .98], P < .01) power output. Thermal sensation and comfort at all regions were higher with heating (P ≤ .02). Conclusion: Combined upper- and lower-limb passive heating can increase whole-body skin temperature and improve short-duration upper-limb power output during the bench-pull exercise. Improvements in power output were directly related to the skin temperature increase facilitated by the heated clothing.

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Protocol Standardization May Improve Precision Error of InBody 720 Body Composition Analysis

Tia Herberts, Gary J. Slater, Ava Farley, Luke Hogarth, Jose L. Areta, Gøran Paulsen, and Ina Garthe

Background: Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a popular technique which can be used to track longitudinal changes in body composition. However, precision of the technique has been questioned, especially among athletic populations where small but meaningful changes are often observed. Guidelines exist which attempt to optimize precision of the technique but fail to account for potentially important variables. Standardization of dietary intake and physical activity in the 24 hr prior to assessment has been proposed as an approach to minimizing the error of impedance-derived estimates of body composition. Methods: Eighteen recreational athletes, male (n = 10) and female (n = 8), underwent two consecutive BIA tests to quantify within-day error, and a third test (the day before or after) to quantify between-day error. All food and fluid intake plus physical activity from the 24 hr prior to the first BIA scan was replicated during the following 24 hr. Precision error was calculated as the root mean square standard deviation, percentage coefficient of variation, and least significant change. Results: There were no significant differences in precision error of within- and between-day fat-free mass, fat mass, and total body water. Differences in precision error of fat-free mass and total body water, but not fat mass, were less than the smallest effect size of interest. Conclusion: The 24-hr standardization of dietary intake and physical activity may be an effective approach to minimizing precision error associated with BIA. However, further research to confirm the validity of this protocol compared to nonstandardized or randomized intake is warranted.