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Ryland Morgans, Rocco Di Michele, and Barry Drust

Purpose: Competitive match play is a dominant component of the physical load completed by soccer players in a training microcycle. Characterizing the temporal disruption in homeostasis that follows exercise may provide some insight on the potential for match play to elicit an adaptive response. Methods: Countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance was characterized 3 d postmatch for 15 outfield players from an English Premier League soccer team (age 25.8 ± 4.1 y, stature 1.78 ± 0.08 m, body mass: 71.7 ± 9.1 kg) across a season. These players were classified as either starters (n = 9) or nonstarters (n = 6), according to their average individual playing time (more or less than 60 min/match). Linear mixed models were used to investigate the influence of indicators of match activity (total distance covered [TD] and high-intensity running distance [HI]) on CMJ height and peak power (PP). Results: Starting players covered much greater TD (ES = 1.5) and HI (ES = 1.4) than nonstarters. Furthermore, there was a possible positive effect of HI on CMJ height and PP. This relationship suggests that an additional 0.6 km of HI would increase CMJ height and PP by slightly more than the smallest-worthwhile-change values of 0.6 cm and 1.0 W/kg, respectively. This small yet practically relevant increase in performance may suggest that match play, more specifically the intense activities that are associated with the match, provides a physiological stimulus for neuromuscular adaptation. Conclusions: These data may have implications for the preparation of soccer squads, especially the training requirements of starting and nonstarting players.

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James J. Malone, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Darren Burgess, James P. Morton, and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players of the English Premier League.

Methods:

Thirty players were sampled (using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) during the daily training sessions of the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across 6 × 1-wk microcycles. In-season data were analyzed across 6 × 6-wk mesocycle blocks and 3 × 1-wk microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed with respect to number of days before a match.

Results:

Typical daily training load (ie, total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate [%HRmax], RPE load) did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th. %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3−5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Furthermore, training load was lower on the day before match (MD-1) than 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) d before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions:

The authors provide the 1st report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players and observed that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1 (regardless of mesocycle), whereas no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are facilitative of optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

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Simone Ciacci, Rocco Di Michele, Silvia Fantozzi, and Franco Merni

Context:

Kinematic asymmetry is believed to be associated with elevated risk for muscle injury, but little is known about the links between hamstring injuries and asymmetry of sprinting mechanics.

Objective:

To evaluate the value of kinematic analysis of sprinting for the detection of injury-related asymmetry in athletes with a history of hamstring strain.

Participants:

Six sub-elite male sprinters, including two who sustained a hamstring strain injury.

Outcome Measures:

Absolute differences between left and right symmetry indices and symmetry angles were both calculated for ground contact time and selected angular displacements. Measurements were acquired at foot strike, during the stance phase, and at toe-off.

Results:

At toe-off, injured athletes exhibited greater knee flexion and less hip extension for the injured extremity compared to the uninjured extremity. Symmetry indices for these variables markedly exceeded an established 15% threshold for clinically relevant asymmetry. Each of the uninjured athletes exhibited a high degree of symmetry for all parameters, with mean values for symmetry indices significantly lower than the 15% threshold (P < 0.05).

Conclusions:

Kinematic analysis of sprinting asymmetry appears to be valuable for identification of elevated risk for hamstring injury.

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Liam Anderson, Patrick Orme, Rocco Di Michele, Graeme L. Close, Jordan Milsom, Ryland Morgans, Barry Drust, and James P. Morton

Purpose:

To quantify the accumulative training and match load during an annual season in English Premier League soccer players classified as starters (n = 8, started ≥60% of games), fringe players (n = 7, started 30–60% of games) and nonstarters (n = 4, started <30% of games).

Methods

Players were monitored during all training sessions and games completed in the 2013–14 season with load quantified using global positioning system and Prozone technology, respectively.

Results:

When including both training and matches, total duration of activity (10,678 ± 916, 9955 ± 947, 10,136 ± 847 min; P = .50) and distance covered (816.2 ± 92.5, 733.8 ± 99.4, 691.2 ± 71.5 km; P = .16) were not different between starters, fringe players, and nonstarters, respectively. However, starters completed more (all P < .01) distance running at 14.4–19.8 km/h (91.8 ± 16.3 vs 58.0 ± 3.9 km; effect size [ES] = 2.5), high-speed running at 19.9–25.1 km/h (35.0 ± 8.2 vs 18.6 ± 4.3 km; ES = 2.3), and sprinting at >25.2 km/h (11.2 ± 4.2 vs 2.9 ± 1.2 km; ES = 2.3) than nonstarters. In addition, starters also completed more sprinting (P < .01, ES = 2.0) than fringe players, who accumulated 4.5 ± 1.8 km. Such differences in total high-intensity physical work done were reflective of differences in actual game time between playing groups as opposed to differences in high-intensity loading patterns during training sessions.

Conclusions

Unlike total seasonal volume of training (ie, total distance and duration), seasonal high-intensity loading patterns are dependent on players’ match starting status, thereby having potential implications for training program design.

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Liam Anderson, Robert J. Naughton, Graeme L. Close, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Barry Drust, and James P. Morton

The daily distribution of macronutrient intake can modulate aspects of training adaptations, performance and recovery. We therefore assessed the daily distribution of macronutrient intake (as assessed using food diaries supported by the remote food photographic method and 24-hr recalls) of professional soccer players (n = 6) of the English Premier League during a 7-day period consisting of two match days and five training days. On match days, average carbohydrate (CHO) content of the prematch (<1.5 g·kg-1 body mass) and postmatch (1 g·kg-1 body mass) meals (in recovery from an evening kick-off) were similar (p > .05) though such intakes were lower than contemporary guidelines considered optimal for prematch CHO intake and postmatch recovery. On training days, we observed a skewed and hierarchical approach (p < .05 for all comparisons) to protein feeding such that dinner (0.8 g·kg-1)>lunch (0.6 g·kg-1)>breakfast (0.3 g·kg-1)>evening snacks (0.1 g·kg-1). We conclude players may benefit from consuming greater amounts of CHO in both the prematch and postmatch meals so as to increase CHO availability and maximize rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis, respectively. Furthermore, attention should also be given to ensuring even daily distribution of protein intake so as to potentially promote components of training adaptation.

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Harry E. Routledge, Stuart Graham, Rocco Di Michele, Darren Burgess, Robert M. Erskine, Graeme L. Close, and James P. Morton

The authors aimed to quantify (a) the periodization of physical loading and daily carbohydrate (CHO) intake across an in-season weekly microcycle of Australian Football and (b) the quantity and source of CHO consumed during game play and training. Physical loading (via global positioning system technology) and daily CHO intake (via a combination of 24-hr recall, food diaries, and remote food photographic method) were assessed in 42 professional male players during two weekly microcycles comprising a home and away fixture. The players also reported the source and quantity of CHO consumed during all games (n = 22 games) and on the training session completed 4 days before each game (n = 22 sessions). The total distance was greater (p < .05) on game day (GD; 13 km) versus all training days. The total distance differed between training days, where GD-2 (8 km) was higher than GD-1, GD-3, and GD-4 (3.5, 0, and 7 km, respectively). The daily CHO intake was also different between training days, with reported intakes of 1.8, 1.4, 2.5, and 4.5 g/kg body mass on GD-4, GD-3, GD-2, and GD-1, respectively. The CHO intake was greater (p < .05) during games (59 ± 19 g) compared with training (1 ± 1 g), where in the former, 75% of the CHO consumed was from fluids as opposed to gels. Although the data suggest that Australian Football players practice elements of CHO periodization, the low absolute CHO intakes likely represent considerable underreporting in this population. Even when accounting for potential underreporting, the data also suggest Australian Football players underconsume CHO in relation to the physical demands of training and competition.

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Liam Anderson, Patrick Orme, Robert J. Naughton, Graeme L. Close, Jordan Milsom, David Rydings, Andy O’Boyle, Rocco Di Michele, Julien Louis, Catherine Hambly, John Roger Speakman, Ryland Morgans, Barry Drust, and James P. Morton

In an attempt to better identify and inform the energy requirements of elite soccer players, we quantified the energy expenditure (EE) of players from the English Premier League (n = 6) via the doubly labeled water method (DLW) over a 7-day in-season period. Energy intake (EI) was also assessed using food diaries, supported by the remote food photographic method and 24 hr recalls. The 7-day period consisted of 5 training days (TD) and 2 match days (MD). Although mean daily EI (3186 ± 367 kcals) was not different from (p > .05) daily EE (3566 ± 585 kcals), EI was greater (p < .05) on MD (3789 ± 532 kcal; 61.1 ± 11.4 kcal.kg-1 LBM) compared with TD (2956 ± 374 kcal; 45.2 ± 9.3 kcal.kg-1 LBM, respectively). Differences in EI were reflective of greater (p < .05) daily CHO intake on MD (6.4 ± 2.2 g.kg-1) compared with TD (4.2 ± 1.4 g.kg-1). Exogenous CHO intake was also different (p < .01) during training sessions (3.1 ± 4.4 g.h-1) versus matches (32.3 ± 21.9 g.h-1). In contrast, daily protein (205 ± 30 g.kg-1, p = .29) and fat intake (101 ± 20 g, p = .16) did not display any evidence of daily periodization as opposed to g.kg-1, Although players readily achieve current guidelines for daily protein and fat intake, data suggest that CHO intake on the day before and in recovery from match play was not in accordance with guidelines to promote muscle glycogen storage.