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  • Author: Stuart V. Newstead x
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Timothy J.H. Lathlean, Paul B. Gastin, Stuart V. Newstead and Caroline F. Finch

Purpose: To investigate associations between load (training and competition) and wellness in elite junior Australian Football players across 1 competitive season. Methods: A prospective cohort study was conducted during the 2014 playing season in 562 players from 9 teams. Players recorded their training and match intensities according to the session-rating-of-perceived-exertion (sRPE) method. Based on sRPE player loads, a number of load variables were quantified, including cumulative load and the change in load across different periods of time (including the acute-to-chronic load ratio). Wellness was quantified using a wellness index including sleep, fatigue, soreness, stress, and mood on a Likert scale from 1 to 5. Results: Players spent an average of 85 (21) min in each match and 65 (31) min per training session. Average match loads were 637 (232) arbitrary units, and average training loads were 352 (233) arbitrary units. Over the 24 wk of the 2014 season, overall wellness had a significant linear negative association with 1-wk load (B = −0.152; 95% confidence interval, −0.261 to −0.043; P = .006) and an inverse U-curve relationship with session load (B = −0.078; 95% confidence interval, 0.143 to 0.014; P = .018). Mood, stress, and soreness were all found to have associations with load. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that load (within a session and across the week) is important in managing the wellness of elite junior Australian Football players. Quantifying loads and wellness at this level will help optimize player management and has the potential to reduce the risk of adverse events such as injury.

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Timothy J.H. Lathlean, Paul B. Gastin, Stuart V. Newstead and Caroline F. Finch

Purpose: To investigate the association between training and match loads and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 competitive season. Methods: Elite junior Australian football players (n = 290, age 17.7 [0.3] y, range 16–18 y) were recruited from the under-18 state league competition in Victoria to report load and injury information. One-week load (session rating of perceived exertion multiplied by duration) and all time-loss injuries were reported using an online sport-injury surveillance system. Absolute load measures (weekly sums) enabled the calculation of relative measures such as the acute:chronic workload ratio. Load measures were modeled against injury outcome (yes/no) using a generalized estimating equation approach, with a 1-wk lag for injury. Results: Low (<300 arbitrary units [au]) and high (>4650 au) 1-wk loads were associated with significantly higher risk of injury. Furthermore, low (<100 au) and high (>850 au) session loads were associated with a higher risk of injury. High strain values (>13,000) were associated with up to a 5-fold increase in the odds of injury. There was a relatively flat-line association between the acute:chronic workload ratio and injury. Conclusions: This study is the first investigation of elite junior athletes demonstrating linear and nonlinear relationships between absolute and relative load measures and injury. Coaches should focus player loads on, or at least close to, the point at which injury risk starts to increase again (2214 au for 1-wk load and 458 au for session load) and use evidence-based strategies across the week and month to help reduce the risk of injury.

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Timothy J.H. Lathlean, Paul B. Gastin, Stuart V. Newstead and Caroline F. Finch

Purpose: To investigate the association between player wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 competitive season. Methods: Prospective cohort study. Elite junior Australian football players (N = 196, average age = 17.7 y, range = 16–18 y) were recruited in the under-18 state league competition in Victoria, Australia. They recorded their wellness (sleep, fatigue, soreness, stress, and mood) according to a 5-point Likert scale 3 times weekly, with injuries (missed match/training session) entered into an online sport-injury surveillance system. A logistic generalized estimating equation was used to examine the association (expressed as odds ratio [OR]) between wellness and injury (yes/no). Results: Soreness was associated with injury at each time point across the week, with the strongest association evident for soreness reported 6 d postmatch (OR = 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–1.44; P < .001). Stress and injury were associated with injury for average stress values across the week, as well as specifically on day 1 postmatch (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.01–1.21; P = .038). Mood reported in the middle of the week (3 d postmatch) was associated with injury (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78–0.97; P = .014), as was fatigue (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00–1.22; P = .044). Conclusions: This study demonstrates key associations between wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football, specifically soreness, stress, fatigue, and mood. Monitoring strategies help identify injury-risk profiles, which can help decision makers (coaches or medical staff) intervene when relevant to reduce injury risk.