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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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Ademir F.S. Arruda, Christopher Carling, Vinicius Zanetti, Marcelo S. Aoki, Aaron J. Coutts and Alexandre Moreira

Purpose:

To analyze the effects of a very congested match schedule on the total distance (TD) covered, high-intensity-running (HIR) distance, and frequency of accelerations and body-load impacts (BLIs) performed in a team of under-15 soccer players (N = 10; 15.1 ± 0.2 y, 171.8 ± 4.7 cm, 61 ± 6.0 kg) during an international youth competition.

Methods:

Using global positioning systems, player performances were repeatedly monitored in 5 matches performed over 3 successive days.

Results:

Significant differences were observed between matches (P < .05) for the frequency of accelerations per minute, BLIs, and BLIs per minute. No differences were observed for the TD covered, TD run per minute, number of high-intensity runs, distance covered in HIR, per-minute peak running speed attained, or frequency of accelerations. The frequency of accelerations per minute decreased across the competition while BLIs were higher during the final than in all other matches.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that BLIs and acceleration might be used as an alternative means to represent the external load during congested match schedules rather than measures related to running speed or distance covered.

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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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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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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.

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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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Benjamin M. Jackson, Ted Polglaze, Brian Dawson, Trish King and Peter Peeling

Global positioning system (GPS) devices are commonly used in elite-level team sports as a way of tracking player movements and quantifying workloads. 1 – 3 The data collected from GPS devices are important to coaches, athletes, and scientists, as they provide details about the movement patterns

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Adam Jones, Richard Page, Chris Brogden, Ben Langley and Matt Greig

surfaces, 1 with the task chosen to reflect the common mechanism of injury in soccer. The influence of playing surface on injury risk might, therefore, be specific to injury site and type, in part explaining the equivocal nature of the epidemiology literature. Contemporary developments in GPS

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Lee Taylor, Christopher J. Stevens, Heidi R. Thornton, Nick Poulos and Bryna C.R. Chrismas

ecologically valid setting. The experimental aims were therefore to use a phase-change cooling vest within elite WRSS players during an externally valid match-day warm-up. Specifically, the performance (countermovement jump [CMJ]), physical (global positioning system [GPS] metrics), and psychophysiological