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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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Denise Jennings, Stuart Cormack, Aaron J. Coutts, Luke Boyd and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

To assess the validity and reliability of distance data measured by global positioning system (GPS) units sampling at 1 and 5 Hz during movement patterns common to team sports.

Methods:

Twenty elite Australian Football players each wearing two GPS devices (MinimaxX, Catapult, Australia) completed straight line movements (10, 20, 40 m) at various speeds (walk, jog, stride, sprint), changes of direction (COD) courses of two different frequencies (gradual and tight), and a team sport running simulation circuit. Position and speed data were collected by the GPS devices at 1 and 5 Hz. Distance validity was assessed using the standard error of the estimate (±90% confidence intervals [CI]). Reliability was estimated using typical error (TE) ± 90% CI (expressed as coefficient of variation [CV]).

Results:

Measurement accuracy decreased as speed of locomotion increased in both straight line and the COD courses. Difference between criterion and GPS measured distance ranged from 9.0% to 32.4%. A higher sampling rate improved validity regardless of distance and locomotion in the straight line, COD and simulated running circuit trials. The reliability improved as distance traveled increased but decreased as speed increased. Total distance over the simulated running circuit exhibited the lowest variation (CV 3.6%) while sprinting over 10 m demonstrated the highest (CV 77.2% at 1 Hz).

Conclusion:

Current GPS systems maybe limited for assessment of short, high speed straight line running and efforts involving change of direction. An increased sample rate improves validity and reliability of GPS devices.

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Jason C. Tee, Mike I. Lambert and Yoga Coopoo

Purpose:

In team sports, fatigue is manifested by a self-regulated decrease in movement distance and intensity. There is currently limited information on the effect of fatigue on movement patterns in rugby union match play, particularly for players in different position groups (backs vs forwards). This study investigated the effect of different match periods on movement patterns of professional rugby union players.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from 46 professional match participations to determine temporal effects on movement patterns.

Results:

Total relative distance (m/min) was decreased in the 2nd half for both forwards (–13%, ±8%, ES = very likely large) and backs (–9%, ±7%, ES = very likely large). A larger reduction in high-intensity-running distance in the 2nd half was observed for forwards (–27%, ±16%, ES = very likely medium) than for backs (–10%, ±15%; ES = unclear). Similar patterns were observed for sprint (>6 m/s) frequency (forwards –29%, ±29%, ES = likely small vs backs –13% ±18%, ES = possibly small) and acceleration (>2.75 m/s2) frequency (forwards –27%, ±24%, ES = likely medium vs backs –5%, ±46%, ES = unclear). Analysis of 1st- and 2nd-half quartiles revealed differing pacing strategies for forwards and backs. Forwards display a “slow-positive” pacing strategy, while the pacing strategy of backs is “flat.”

Conclusions:

Forwards suffered progressively greater performance decrements over the course of the match, while backs were able to maintain performance intensity. These findings reflect differing physical demands, notably contact and running loads, of players in different positions.

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Brendan R. Scott, Robert G. Lockie, Timothy J. Knight, Andrew C. Clark and Xanne A.K. Janse de Jonge

Purpose:

To compare various measures of training load (TL) derived from physiological (heart rate [HR]), perceptual (rating of perceived exertion [RPE]), and physical (global positioning system [GPS] and accelerometer) data during in-season field-based training for professional soccer.

Methods:

Fifteen professional male soccer players (age 24.9 ± 5.4 y, body mass 77.6 ± 7.5 kg, height 181.1 ± 6.9 cm) were assessed in-season across 97 individual training sessions. Measures of external TL (total distance [TD], the volume of low-speed activity [LSA; <14.4 km/h], high-speed running [HSR; >14.4 km/h], very high-speed running [VHSR; >19.8 km/h], and player load), HR and session-RPE (sRPE) scores were recorded. Internal TL scores (HR-based and sRPE-based) were calculated, and their relationships with measures of external TL were quantified using Pearson product–moment correlations.

Results:

Physical measures of TD, LSA volume, and player load provided large, significant (r = .71−.84; P < .01) correlations with the HR-based and sRPE-based methods. Volume of HSR and VHSR provided moderate to large, significant (r = .40−.67; P < .01) correlations with measures of internal TL.

Conclusions:

While the volume of HSR and VHSR provided significant relationships with internal TL, physical-performance measures of TD, LSA volume, and player load appear to be more acceptable indicators of external TL, due to the greater magnitude of their correlations with measures of internal TL.

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Samuel Ryan, Aaron J. Coutts, Joel Hocking and Thomas Kempton

Purpose:

To examine the influence of a range of individual player characteristics and match-related factors on activity profiles during professional Australian football matches.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) profiles were collected from 34 professional Australian football players from the same club over 15 competition matches. GPS data were classified into relative total and high-speed running (HSR; >20 km/h) distances. Individual player aerobic fitness was determined from a 2-km time trial conducted during the preseason. Each match was classified according to match location, season phase, recovery length, opposition strength, and match outcome. The total number of stoppages during the match was obtained from a commercial statistics provider. A linear mixed model was constructed to examine the influence of player characteristics and match-related factors on both relative total and HSR outputs.

Results:

Player aerobic fitness had a large effect on relative total and HSR distances. Away matches and matches lost produced only small reductions in relative HSR distances, while the number of rotations also had a small positive effect. Matches won, more player rotations, and playing against strong opposition all resulted in small to moderate increases in relative total distance, while early season phase, increased number of stoppages, and away matches resulted in small to moderate reductions in relative total distance.

Conclusions:

There is a likely interplay of factors that influence running performance during Australian football matches. The results highlight the need to consider a variety of contextual factors when interpreting physical output from matches.

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Rich D. Johnston, Tim J. Gabbett and David G. Jenkins

Purpose:

To determine the influence the number of contact efforts during a single bout has on running intensity during game-based activities and assess relationships between physical qualities and distances covered in each game.

Methods:

Eighteen semiprofessional rugby league players (age 23.6 ± 2.8 y) competed in 3 off-side small-sided games (2 × 10-min halves) with a contact bout performed every 2 min. The rules of each game were identical except for the number of contact efforts performed in each bout. Players performed 1, 2, or 3 × 5-s wrestles in the single-, double-, and triple-contact game, respectively. The movement demands (including distance covered and intensity of exercise) in each game were monitored using global positioning system units. Bench-press and back-squat 1-repetition maximum and the 30−15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30−15IFT) assessed muscle strength and high-intensity-running ability, respectively.

Results:

There was little change in distance covered during the single-contact game (ES = −0.16 to −0.61), whereas there were larger reductions in the double- (ES = −0.52 to −0.81) and triple-contact (ES = −0.50 to −1.15) games. Significant relationships (P < .05) were observed between 30–15IFT and high-speed running during the single- (r = .72) and double- (r = .75), but not triple-contact (r = .20) game.

Conclusions:

There is little change in running intensity when only single contacts are performed each bout; however, when multiple contacts are performed, greater reductions in running intensity result. In addition, high-intensity-running ability is only associated with running performance when contact demands are low.

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Jason D. Vescovi and Devon H. Frayne

Purpose:

To examine locomotor demands and metabolic-power characteristics of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) field hockey matches.

Methods:

Using a cross-sectional design, global positioning system (GPS) technology tracked Division I field hockey players from 6 teams during 1 regular-season match (68 player observations). An ANOVA compared locomotor demands and metabolic-power characteristics among positions. Paired t tests compared dependent variables between halves.

Results:

Defenders played 5−6 min more than midfielders, whereas midfielders played 6−7 min more than forwards. Defenders covered less relative distance (98 m/min) than forwards and midfielders (110−111 m/min), as well as more low-intensity running than forwards and less high-intensity running than midfielders. Lower mean metabolic power (9.3 W/kg) was observed for defenders than forwards and midfielders (10.4 W/kg). There was no difference in playing time between halves; however, all 3 positions had a reduction in relative distance (7−9%) and mean metabolic power (8−9%) during the second half.

Conclusions:

Despite more playing time, defenders covered less relative distance and had lower mean metabolic power than other positions. Moderate-intensity, high-intensity, and sprint distance were similar between positions, highlighting the greater relative demands on forwards because they tended to have the least amount of playing time. The reduction of key metrics during the second half was similar among positions and warrants further investigation. These initial results can be used to design position-specific drills or create small-sided games that replicate match demands for NCAA athletes, thus helping establish strategies for developing physiological ability of players at this level.

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Dennis-Peter Born, Thomas Stöggl, Mikael Swarén and Glenn Björklund

Purpose:

To investigate the cardiorespiratory and metabolic response of trail running and evaluate whether heart rate (HR) adequately reflects the exercise intensity or if the tissue-saturation index (TSI) could provide a more accurate measure during running in hilly terrain.

Methods:

Seventeen competitive runners (4 women, V̇O2max, 55 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1; 13 men, V̇O2max, 68 ± 6 mL · kg–1 · min–1) performed a time trial on an off-road trail course. The course was made up of 2 laps covering a total distance of 7 km and included 6 steep uphill and downhill sections with an elevation gain of 486 m. All runners were equipped with a portable breath-by-breath gas analyzer, HR belt, global positioning system receiver, and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) device to measure the TSI.

Results:

During the trail run, the exercise intensity in the uphill and downhill sections was 94% ± 2% and 91% ± 3% of maximal heart rate, respectively, and 84% ± 8% and 68% ± 7% of V̇O2max, respectively. The oxygen uptake (V̇O2) increased in the uphill sections and decreased in the downhill sections (P < .01). Although HR was unaffected by the altering slope conditions, the TSI was inversely correlated to the changes in V̇O2 (r = –.70, P < .05).

Conclusions:

HR was unaffected by the continuously changing exercise intensity; however, TSI reflected the alternations in V̇O2. Recently used exclusively for scientific purposes, this NIRS-based variable may offer a more accurate alternative than HR to monitor running intensity in the future, especially for training and competition in hilly terrain.

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Nicola Furlan, Mark Waldron, Mark Osborne and Adrian J. Gray

Purpose:

To assess the ecological validity of the Rugby Sevens Simulation Protocol (R7SP) and to evaluate its interday reliability.

Methods:

Ten male participants (20 ± 2 y, 74 ± 11 kg) completed 2 trials of the R7SP, separated by 7 d. The R7SP comprised typical running and collision activities, based on data recorded during international rugby sevens match play. Heart rate (HR) was monitored continuously during the R7SP, and the participants’ movements were recorded through a 20-Hz global positioning system unit. Blood lactate and rating of perceived exertion were collected before and immediately after the 1st and 2nd halves of the R7SP.

Results:

The average activity profile was 117 ± 5 m/min, of which 27 ± 2 m/min was covered at high speed, with a calculated energetic demand of 1037 ± 581 J/kg, of which ~40% was expended at a rate above 19 W/kg. Mean HR was 88% ± 4% of maximal HR. Participants spent ~45% ± 27% of time above 90% of maximal HR (t >90%HRmax). There were no significant differences between trials, except for lactate between the halves of the R7SP. The majority of the measured variables demonstrated a between-trials coefficient of variation (CV%) lower than 5%. Blood lactate measurements (14–20% CV) and t >90%HRmax (26% CV) were less reliable variables. In most cases, the calculated moderate worthwhile change was higher than the CV%.

Conclusions:

The R7SP replicates the activity profile and HR responses of rugby sevens match play. It is a reliable simulation protocol that can be used in a research environment to detect systematic worthwhile changes in selected performance variables.

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Jason D. Vescovi and Terence G. Favero

Purpose:

To quantify the locomotor demands of college female soccer matches and compare the relative proportion of distances in specified velocity bands between players completing an entire half with substitutes.

Methods:

College female soccer players (n = 113) were assessed during a regular-season match using global positioning system technology. An ANCOVA was used to compare the locomotor characteristics for positions and substitutes, adjusting for duration played. Paired t tests compared the proportion of distances for players substituted out and back into the second half.

Results:

Defenders covered less total absolute distance than midfielders (first half) and midfielders and forwards (second half) with concomitantly lower work rates. Moderate- and high-intensity running were similar between positions within each half. Midfielders substituted into the match had a lower proportion of moderate-intensity running than those substituted out (15% ± 1.8% vs 19% ± 0.9%), and defenders completing an entire first half had a lower proportion of high-intensity running than defenders substituted in or out (6% ± 1.0% vs 11% ± 1.0% and 16% ± 2.8%). There were no differences in the proportion of distances covered within each velocity band for any position in the second half or for the players substituted out and then back in during the second half.

Conclusions:

The current findings provide novel insight linking the developmental progression between youth and high-level matches for overall demands and work rates. Moderate- and high-intensity distances cumulatively range from 2100 to 2600 m (26–28% total distance) in female college matches. The high amount of consistency observed for the proportions of distance covered suggest that substitution patterns have little impact on locomotor distribution.