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Martin Buchheit, Will Morgan, Jarryd Wallace, Matthew Bode and Nick Poulos

Purpose:

The aim of the current study was to quantify the physiological, psychometric, and performance effects of a 2-wk Christmas break in a professional Australian Football League club.

Methods:

A series of physiological (eg, heart-rate [HR] response to a 5-min submaximal run and skinfold thicknesses), psychometric (rating-of-perceived-exertion [RPE] responses and wellness variables), and performance (running activity during standardized handball games, isometric midthigh pull [IMTP] peak force, and countermovement jump [CMJ]) measures were conducted in the weeks before and after the break.

Results:

There was a possible and small increase in the sum of 7 skinfolds, while body mass and fat-free mass remained possible and likely unchanged, respectively. Sleep and stress scores remained likely to almost certainly unchanged, but there were some small, possible to likely decreases in fatigue and soreness scores. HR and RPE responses to the 5-min submaximal run were likely slightly lower (ie, improved) after the break. High-intensity running and acceleration distance during a standard handball game were very likely slightly greater, while HR and RPE responses to the game were possibly to very likely unchanged. HR responses to a high-intensity training session remained very likely unchanged. There was also a likely small increase in IMTP peak force but likely to very likely no change in CMJ variables.

Conclusions:

The results show that players returned from a 2-wk break during preseason well recovered, with preserved to improved levels of strength and cardiorespiratory fitness, despite small increases in skinfold thickness.

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Stuart J. Cormack, Mitchell G. Mooney, Will Morgan and Michael R. McGuigan

Purpose:

To determine the impact of neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) assessed from variables obtained during a countermovement jump on exercise intensity measured with triaxial accelerometers (load per minute [LPM]) and the association between LPM and measures of running activity in elite Australian Football.

Methods:

Seventeen elite Australian Football players performed the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test level 2 (Yo-Yo IR2) and provided a baseline measure of NMF (flight time:contraction time [FT:CT]) from a countermovement jump before the season. Weekly samples of FT:CT, coaches’ rating of performance (votes), LPM, and percent contribution of the 3 vectors from the accelerometers in addition to high-speed-running meters per minute at >15 km/h and total distance relative to playing time (m/min) from matches were collected. Samples were divided into fatigued and nonfatigued groups based on reductions in FT:CT. Percent contributions of vectors to LPM were assessed to determine the likelihood of a meaningful difference between fatigued and nonfatigued groups. Pearson correlations were calculated to determine relationships between accelerometer vectors and running variables, votes, and Yo-Yo IR2 score.

Results:

Fatigue reduced the contribution of the vertical vector by (mean ± 90% CI) –5.8% ± 6.1% (86% likely) and the number of practically important correlations.

Conclusions:

NMF affects the contribution of individual vectors to total LPM, with a likely tendency toward more running at low speed and less acceleration. Fatigue appears to limit the influence of the aerobic and anaerobic qualities assessed via the Yo-Yo IR2 test on LPM and seems implicated in pacing.