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Dean J. McNamara, Tim J. Gabbett, Paul Chapman, Geraldine Naughton and Patrick Farhart

Purpose:

Bowling workload is linked to injury risk in cricket fast bowlers. This study investigated the validity of microtechnology in the automated detection of bowling counts and events, including run-up distance and velocity, in cricket fast bowlers.

Method:

Twelve highly skilled fast bowlers (mean ± SD age 23.5 ± 3.7 y) performed a series of bowling, throwing, and fielding activities in an outdoor environment during training and competition while wearing a microtechnology unit (MinimaxX). Sensitivity and specificity of a bowling-detection algorithm were determined by comparing the outputs from the device with manually recorded bowling counts. Run-up distance and run-up velocity were measured and compared with microtechnology outputs.

Results:

No significant differences were observed between direct measures of bowling and nonbowling events and true positive and true negative events recorded by the MinimaxX unit (P = .34, r = .99). The bowling-detection algorithm was shown to be sensitive in both training (99.0%) and competition (99.5%). Specificity was 98.1% during training and 74.0% during competition. Run-up distance was accurately recorded by the unit, with a percentage bias of 0.8% (r = .90). The final 10-m (–8.9%, r = .88) and 5-m (–7.3%, r = .90) run-up velocities were less accurate.

Conclusions:

The bowling-detection algorithm from the MinimaxX device is sensitive to detect bowling counts in both cricket training and competition. Although specificity is high during training, the number of false positive events increased during competition. Additional bowling workload measures require further development.

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Matthias W. Hoppe, Christian Baumgart, Jutta Bornefeld, Billy Sperlich, Jürgen Freiwald and Hans-Christer Holmberg

The aims of this study were (1) to assess the running activities of adolescent tennis players during match play with respect to velocity, acceleration, and deceleration; (2) to characterize changes in these activities during the course of a match; and (3) to identify potential differences between winners and losers. Twenty well-trained adolescent male athletes (13 ± 1 y) played one simulated match each (giving a total of 10 matches), during which distances covered at different velocity categories (0 to < 1, 1 to < 2, 2 to < 3, 3 to < 4, and ≥ 4 m·s−1) and number of running activities involving high velocity (≥ 3 m·s−1), acceleration (≥ 2 m·s−2), and deceleration (≤ −2 m·s−2) were monitored using a global positioning system (10 Hz). Heart rate was also assessed. The total match time, total distance covered, peak velocity, and mean heart rate were 81.2 ± 14.6 min, 3362 ± 869 m, 4.4 ± 0.8 ms−1, and 159 ± 12 beats min−1, respectively. Running activities involving high acceleration (0.6 ± 0.2 n·min−1) or deceleration (0.6 ± 0.2 n·min−1) were three times as frequent as those involving high velocity (0.2 ± 0.1 n·min−1). No change in the pattern of running activities (P ≥ .13, d ≤ 0.39) and no differences between winners and losers (P ≥ .22, d ≤ 0.53) were evident during match play. We conclude that training of well-trained adolescent male tennis players need not focus on further development of their running abilities, since this physical component of multifactorial tennis performance does not change during the course of a match and does not differ between the winners and losers.

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Daniel Castillo, Matthew Weston, Shaun J. McLaren, Jesús Cámara and Javier Yanci

The aims of this study were to describe the internal and external match loads (ML) of refereeing activity during official soccer matches and to investigate the relationship among the methods of ML quantification across a competitive season. A further aim was to examine the usefulness of differential perceived exertion (dRPE) as a tool for monitoring internal ML in soccer referees. Twenty field referees (FRs) and 43 assistant referees (ARs) participated in the study. Data were collected from 30 competitive matches (FR = 20 observations, AR = 43 observations) and included measures of internal (Edwards’ heart-rate-derived training impulse [TRIMPEDW]) ML, external (total distance covered, distance covered at high speeds, and player load) ML, and ML differentiated ratings of perceived respiratory (sRPEres) and leg-muscle (sRPEmus) exertion. Internal and external ML were all greater for FRs than for ARs (–19.7 to –72.5), with differences ranging from very likely very large to most likely extremely large. The relationships between internal-ML and external-ML indicators were, in most cases, unclear for FR (r < .35) and small to moderate for AR (r < .40). The authors found substantial differences between RPEres and RPEmus scores in both FRs (0.6 AU; ±90% confidence limits 0.4 AU) and ARs (0.4; ±0.3). These data demonstrate the multifaceted demands of soccer refereeing and thereby highlight the importance of monitoring both internal and external ML. Moreover, dRPE represents distinct dimensions of effort and may be useful in monitoring soccer referees’ ML during official matches.

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Dean J. McNamara, Tim J. Gabbett, Geraldine Naughton, Patrick Farhart and Paul Chapman

Purpose:

This study investigated key fatigue and workload variables of cricket fast bowlers and nonfast bowlers during a 7-wk physical-preparation period and 10-d intensified competition period.

Methods:

Twenty-six elite junior cricketers (mean ± SD age 17.7 ± 1.1 y) were classified as fast bowlers (n = 9) or nonfast bowlers (n = 17). Individual workloads were measured via global positioning system technology, and neuromuscular function (countermovement jump [relative power and flight time]), endocrine (salivary testosterone and cortisol concentrations), and perceptual well-being (soreness, mood, stress, sleep quality, and fatigue) markers were recorded.

Results:

Fast bowlers performed greater competition total distance (median [interquartile range] 7049 [3962] m vs 5062 [3694] m), including greater distances at low and high speeds, and more accelerations (40 [32] vs 19 [21]) and had a higher player load (912 [481] arbitrary units vs 697 [424] arbitrary units) than nonfast bowlers. Cortisol concentrations were higher in the physical-preparation (mean ± 90% confidence intervals, % likelihood; d = –0.88 ± 0.39, 100%) and competition phases (d = –0.39 ± 0.30, 85%), and testosterone concentrations, lower (d = 0.56 ± 0.29, 98%), in the competition phase in fast bowlers. Perceptual well-being was poorer in nonfast bowlers during competition only (d = 0.36 ± 0.22, 88%). Differences in neuromuscular function between groups were unclear during physical preparation and competition.

Conclusions:

These findings demonstrate differences in the physical demands of cricket fast bowlers and nonfast bowlers and suggest that these external workloads differentially affect the neuromuscular, endocrine, and perceptual fatigue responses of these players.

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Jamie Highton, Thomas Mullen, Jonathan Norris, Chelsea Oxendale and Craig Twist

This aim of this study was to examine the validity of energy expenditure derived from microtechnology when measured during a repeated-effort rugby protocol. Sixteen male rugby players completed a repeated-effort protocol comprising 3 sets of 6 collisions during which movement activity and energy expenditure (EEGPS) were measured using microtechnology. In addition, energy expenditure was estimated from open-circuit spirometry (EEVO2). While related (r = .63, 90%CI .08–.89), there was a systematic underestimation of energy expenditure during the protocol (–5.94 ± 0.67 kcal/min) for EEGPS (7.2 ± 1.0 kcal/min) compared with EEVO2 (13.2 ± 2.3 kcal/min). High-speed-running distance (r = .50, 95%CI –.66 to .84) was related to EEVO2, while PlayerLoad was not (r = .37, 95%CI –.81 to .68). While metabolic power might provide a different measure of external load than other typically used microtechnology metrics (eg, high-speed running, PlayerLoad), it underestimates energy expenditure during intermittent team sports that involve collisions.

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Marco Cardinale and Matthew C. Varley

The need to quantify aspects of training to improve training prescription has been the holy grail of sport scientists and coaches for many years. Recently, there has been an increase in scientific interest, possibly due to technological advancements and better equipment to quantify training activities. Over the last few years there has been an increase in the number of studies assessing training load in various athletic cohorts with a bias toward subjective reports and/or quantifications of external load. There is an evident lack of extensive longitudinal studies employing objective internal-load measurements, possibly due to the cost-effectiveness and invasiveness of measures necessary to quantify objective internal loads. Advances in technology might help in developing better wearable tools able to ease the difficulties and costs associated with conducting longitudinal observational studies in athletic cohorts and possibly provide better information on the biological implications of specific external-load patterns. Considering the recent technological developments for monitoring training load and the extensive use of various tools for research and applied work, the aim of this work was to review applications, challenges, and opportunities of various wearable technologies.

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Ryu Nagahara, Jean-Benoit Morin and Masaaki Koido

Purpose:

To assess soccer-specific impairment of mechanical properties in accelerated sprinting and its relation with activity profiles during an actual match.

Methods:

Thirteen male field players completed 4 sprint measurements, wherein running speed was obtained using a laser distance-measurement system, before and after the 2 halves of 2 soccer matches. Macroscopic mechanical properties (theoretical maximal horizontal force [F0], maximal horizontal sprinting power [Pmax], and theoretical maximal sprinting velocity [V0]) during the 35-m sprint acceleration were calculated from speed–time data. Players’ activity profiles during the matches were collected using global positioning system units.

Results:

After the match, although F0 and Pmax did not significantly change, V0 was reduced (P = .038), and the magnitude of this reduction correlated with distance (positive) and number (negative) of high-speed running, number of running (negative), and other low-intensity activity distance (negative) during the match. Moreover, Pmax decreased immediately before the second half (P = .014).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that soccer-specific fatigue probably impairs players’ maximal velocity capabilities more than their maximal horizontal force-production abilities at initial acceleration. Furthermore, long-distance running, especially at high speed, during the match may induce relatively large impairment of maximal velocity capabilities. In addition, the capability of producing maximal horizontal power during sprinting is presumably impaired during halftime of a soccer match with passive recovery. These findings could be useful for players and coaches aiming to train effectively to maintain sprinting performance throughout a soccer match when planning a training program.

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Tyler L. Goodale, Tim J. Gabbett, Ming-Chang Tsai, Trent Stellingwerff and Jeremy Sheppard

Purpose:

To evaluate the effects of contextual game factors on activity and physiological profiles of international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty international-level female rugby sevens players from the same national team participated in this study. Global positioning system and heart-rate data were collected at 5 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series events (2013–14 season).

Results:

Total, moderate-speed (0.2–3.5 m/s), and high-speed running (3.5–5.0 m/s) distances were significantly greater in the first half (20.1% ± 4.1%, 17.6% ± 6.9%, 24.5% ± 7.8%), during losses (11.4% ± 6.1%, 6.1% ± 6.4%, 26.9% ± 9.8%), during losses of large magnitudes (≥2 tries) (12.9% ± 8.8%, 6.8% ± 10.0%, 31.2% ± 14.9%), and against top-4 opponents (12.6% ± 8.7%, 11.3% ± 8.5%, 15.5% ± 13.9%). In addition, total distance increased (5.0% ± 5.5%) significantly from day 1 to day 2 of tournaments, and very-high-speed (5.0–6.5 m/s) running distance increased significantly (26.0% ± 14.2%) during losses. Time spent between 90% and 100% of maximum heart rate (16.4% ± 14.5%) and player load (19.0% ± 5.1%) were significantly greater in the second half. No significant differences in physiological or activity profiles were observed between forwards and backs.

Conclusions:

Game half, game outcome, tournament day, opponent rank, and margin of outcome all affected activity profiles, whereas game half affected physiological profiles. No differences in activity or physiological profiles were found between playing positions. Practitioners are advised to develop high-speed running ability in women’s rugby sevens players to prepare them to tolerate the varying factors that affect activity profiles.

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Aaron T. Scanlan, Daniel M. Berkelmans, William M. Vickery and Crystal O. Kean

Cricket is a popular international team sport with various game formats ranging from long-duration multiday tests to short-duration Twenty20 game play. The role of batsmen is critical to all game formats, with differing physiological demands imposed during each format. Investigation of the physiological demands imposed during cricket batting has historically been neglected, with much of the research focusing on bowling responses and batting technique. A greater understanding of the physiological demands of the batting role in cricket is required to assist strength and conditioning professionals and coaches with the design of training plans, recovery protocols, and player-management strategies. This brief review provides an updated synthesis of the literature examining the internal (eg, metabolic demands and heart rate) and external (eg, activity work rates) physiological responses to batting in the various game formats, as well as simulated play and small-sided-games training. Although few studies have been done in this area, the summary of data provides important insight regarding physiological responses to batting and highlights that more research on this topic is required. Future research is recommended to combine internal and external measures during actual game play, as well as comparing different game formats and playing levels. In addition, understanding the relationship between batting technique and physiological responses is warranted to gain a more holistic understanding of batting in cricket, as well as to develop appropriate coaching and training strategies.

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Heidi R. Thornton, Jace A. Delaney, Grant M. Duthie and Ben J. Dascombe

Purpose:

To investigate the ability of various internal and external training-load (TL) monitoring measures to predict injury incidence among positional groups in professional rugby league athletes.

Methods:

TL and injury data were collected across 3 seasons (2013–2015) from 25 players competing in National Rugby League competition. Daily TL data were included in the analysis, including session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE-TL), total distance (TD), high-speed-running distance (>5 m/s), and high-metabolic-power distance (HPD; >20 W/kg). Rolling sums were calculated, nontraining days were removed, and athletes’ corresponding injury status was marked as “available” or “unavailable.” Linear (generalized estimating equations) and nonlinear (random forest; RF) statistical methods were adopted.

Results:

Injury risk factors varied according to positional group. For adjustables, the TL variables associated most highly with injury were 7-d TD and 7-d HPD, whereas for hit-up forwards they were sRPE-TL ratio and 14-d TD. For outside backs, 21- and 28-d sRPE-TL were identified, and for wide-running forwards, sRPE-TL ratio. The individual RF models showed that the importance of the TL variables in injury incidence varied between athletes.

Conclusions:

Differences in risk factors were recognized between positional groups and individual athletes, likely due to varied physiological capacities and physical demands. Furthermore, these results suggest that robust machine-learning techniques can appropriately monitor injury risk in professional team-sport athletes.