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  • Author: Michael H. Cole x
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Ryan M. Chambers, Tim J. Gabbett and Michael H. Cole

Purpose: Commercially available microtechnology devices containing accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers, and global positioning technology have been widely used to quantify the demands of rugby union. This study investigated whether data derived from wearable microsensors can be used to develop an algorithm that automatically detects scrum events in rugby union training and match play. Methods: Data were collected from 30 elite rugby players wearing a Catapult OptimEye S5 (Catapult Sports, Melbourne, Australia) microtechnology device during a series of competitive matches (n = 46) and training sessions (n = 51). A total of 97 files were required to “train” an algorithm to automatically detect scrum events using random forest machine learning. A further 310 files from training (n = 167) and match-play (n = 143) sessions were used to validate the algorithm’s performance. Results: Across all positions (front row, second row, and back row), the algorithm demonstrated good sensitivity (91%) and specificity (91%) for training and match-play events when the confidence level of the random forest was set to 50%. Generally, the algorithm had better accuracy for match-play events (93.6%) than for training events (87.6%). Conclusions: The scrum algorithm was able to accurately detect scrum events for front-row, second-row, and back-row positions. However, for optimal results, practitioners are advised to use the recommended confidence level for each position to limit false positives. Scrum algorithm detection was better with scrums involving ≥5 players and is therefore unlikely to be suitable for scrums involving 3 players (eg, rugby sevens). Additional contact- and collision-detection algorithms are required to fully quantify rugby union demands.

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Steven van Andel, Michael H. Cole and Gert-Jan Pepping

Objectives: To examine gait regulation during the approach to stepping onto a curb for older adults who did or did not report gait-related falls over a 12-month follow-up. Methods: A total of 98 participants aged 60 years and older were analyzed. Primary outcomes were step length adaptations (lengthening or shortening) during a curb approach and the occurrence of a gait-related fall during a 12-month follow-up. Results: Linear mixed-effects modeling indicated stronger adaptations toward the end of the approach. Participants who reported experiencing a gait-related fall showed a stronger relationship between the adjustment required and adjustment produced, indicating different gait adaptations during the step leading onto the curb. Discussion: The link between prospective gait-related falls and gait adaptations indicated that older adults with reduced capabilities require stronger adaptations to complete tasks reminiscent of everyday life. This finding may provide insight into the mechanisms of falls in older adults and should inform new fall prevention interventions.

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Georgia M. Black, Tim J. Gabbett, Richard D. Johnston, Geraldine Naughton, Michael H. Cole and Brian Dawson

Purpose: With female Australian football (AF) gaining popularity, understanding match demands is becoming increasingly important. The aim of this study was to compare running performances of rotated and whole-quarter state-level female AF players during match quarters. Methods : Twenty-two state-level female AF midfielders wore Global Positioning System units during 14 games to evaluate activity profiles. The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (Yo-Yo IR1) was used as a measure of high-intensity running ability. Data were categorized into whole quarter, rotation bout 1, and rotation bout 2 before being further divided into quartiles. Players were separated into high- or low-Yo-Yo IR1 groups using a median split based on their Yo-Yo IR1 performance. Short (4–6 min), moderate (6–12 min), and long (12–18 min) on-field bout activity profiles were compared with whole-quarter players. Results: High Yo-Yo IR1 performance allowed players to cover greater relative distances (ES = 0.57–0.88) and high-speed distances (ES = 0.57–0.86) during rotations. No differences were reported between Yo-Yo IR1 groups when players were required to play whole quarters (ES ≤ 0.26, likelihood ≤64%). Players who were on field for short to moderate durations exhibited greater activity profiles than whole-quarter players. Conclusions: Superior high-speed running ability results in a greater activity profile than for players who possess lower high-speed running ability. The findings also highlight the importance of short to moderate (4–12 min) rotation periods and may be used to increase high-intensity running performance within quarters in female AF players.

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Georgia M. Black, Tim J. Gabbett, Rich D. Johnston, Michael H. Cole, Geraldine Naughton and Brian Dawson

Purpose: The transition of female Australian football (AF) players from amateur to semielite competitions has the potential for athletes to be underprepared for match play. To gain an understanding of the match demands of female football, the aims of this study were to highlight the physical qualities that discriminate selected and nonselected female AF players, investigate activity profiles of female AF players, and gain an understanding of the influence of physical qualities on performance in female AF Methods: Twenty-two female AF state academy players (mean [SD]: age = 23.2 [4.5] y) and 27 nonselected players (mean [SD]: age = 23.4 [4.9] y) completed a Yo-Yo intermittent recovery test level 1, countermovement jump, and 30-m sprint tests were completed prior to the competitive season. During 14 matches, players wore global positioning system units to describe the running demands of match play. Results: Selected players were faster over 30 m (ES = 0.57; P = .04) and covered greater distances on the Yo-Yo IR1 (ES = 1.09; P < .001). Selected midfielders spent greater time on the field and covered greater total distances (ES = 0.73–0.85; P < .01). Players faster over 5 m (r = −.612) and 30 m (r = −.807) and who performed better on the Yo-Yo IR1 (r = .489) covered greater high-speed distances during match play. Conclusions: An emphasis should be placed on the development of physical fitness in this playing group to ensure optimal preparation for the national competition.

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Gerald K. Cole, Benno M. Nigg, Gordon H. Fick and Michael M. Morlock

A 3-D model was used in this study to determine the influence of midsole hardness, as well as the influence of running in shoes in comparison to barefoot, on the contact forces in the joints of the foot and ankle during running. The results showed that there were no statistical differences in the magnitude and rate of joint loading for changing midsole hardness, nor were there any general trends observed in the measured variables. However, both the magnitude and rate of loading in the subtalar and ankle joints during the impact phase were found to be greater in the barefoot condition than the shod condition. The results suggest that if running injuries are assumed to be related to the impact of heel-strike, running in shoes may aid in preventing injuries, whereas it is still questionable whether changes in the midsole hardness have a general influence on the incidence of impact-related injuries.

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Nick B. Murray, Georgia M. Black, Rod J. Whiteley, Peter Gahan, Michael H. Cole, Andy Utting and Tim J. Gabbett

Purpose:

Throwing loads are known to be closely related to injury risk. However, for logistic reasons, typically only pitchers have their throws counted, and then only during innings. Accordingly, all other throws made are not counted, so estimates of throws made by players may be inaccurately recorded and underreported. A potential solution to this is the use of wearable microtechnology to automatically detect, quantify, and report pitch counts in baseball. This study investigated the accuracy of detection of baseball pitching and throwing in both practice and competition using a commercially available wearable microtechnology unit.

Methods:

Seventeen elite youth baseball players (mean ± SD age 16.5 ± 0.8 y, height 184.1 ± 5.5 cm, mass 78.3 ± 7.7 kg) participated in this study. Participants performed pitching, fielding, and throwing during practice and competition while wearing a microtechnology unit. Sensitivity and specificity of a pitching and throwing algorithm were determined by comparing automatic measures (ie, microtechnology unit) with direct measures (ie, manually recorded pitching counts).

Results:

The pitching and throwing algorithm was sensitive during both practice (100%) and competition (100%). Specificity was poorer during both practice (79.8%) and competition (74.4%).

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate that the microtechnology unit is sensitive to detect pitching and throwing events, but further development of the pitching algorithm is required to accurately and consistently quantify throwing loads using microtechnology.