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Gregory Roe, Joshua Darrall-Jones, Christopher Black, William Shaw, Kevin Till and Ben Jones

Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to investigate the validity of timing gates and 10-Hz global positioning systems (GPS) units (Catapult Optimeye S5) against a criterion measure (50-Hz radar gun) for assessing maximum sprint velocity (Vmax).

Methods:

Nine male professional rugby union players performed 3 maximal 40-m sprints with 3 min rest between efforts with Vmax assessed simultaneously via timing gates, 10-Hz GPSOpen (Openfield software), GPSSprint (Sprint software), and radar gun. Eight players wore 3 GPS units, while 1 wore a single unit during each sprint.

Results:

When compared with the radar gun, mean biases for GPSOpen, GPSSprint, and timing gates were trivial, small, and small, respectively. The typical error of the estimate (TEE) was small for timing gate and GPSOpen while moderate for GPSSprint. Correlations with radar gun were nearly perfect for all measures. Mean bias, TEE, and correlations between GPS units were trivial, small, and nearly perfect, respectively, while a small TEE existed when GPSOpenfield was compared with GPSSprint.

Conclusion:

Based on these findings, both 10-Hz GPS and timing gates provide valid measures of 40-m Vmax assessment compared with a radar gun. However, as error did exist between measures, the same testing protocol should be used when assessing 40-m Vmax over time. Furthermore, in light of the above results, it is recommended that when assessing changes in GPS-derived Vmax over time, practitioners should use the same unit for each player and perform the analysis with the same software, preferably Catapult Openfield.

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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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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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Andrew D. White and Niall MacFarlane

Purpose:

The current study assessed the impact of full-game (FG) and time-on-pitch (TOP) procedures for global-positioning-system (GPS) analysis on the commonly used markers of physical performance in elite field hockey.

Methods:

Sixteen international male field hockey players, age 19–30, were studied (yielding 73 player analyses over 8 games). Physical activity was recorded using a 5-Hz GPS.

Results:

Distance covered, player load, maximum velocity, high-acceleration efforts, and distance covered at specified speed zones were all agreeable for both analysis procedures (P > .05). However, percentage time spent in 0–6 km/h was higher for FG (ES: –21% to –16%; P < .001), whereas the percentage time in all other speed zones (1.67–3.06 m/s, 3.06–4.17 m/s, 4.17–5.28 m/s, and > 6.39 m/s) and relative distance (m/min) were higher for TOP (ES: 8–10%, 2–7%, 2–3%, 1–1%, 0–1%, respectively; P < .001).

Conclusions:

These data demonstrate that GPS analysis procedures should be appropriate for the nature of the sport being studied. In field hockey, TOP and FG analysis procedures are comparable for distance-related variables but significantly different for time-dependent factors. Using inappropriate analysis procedures can alter the perceived physiological demand of elite field hockey because of “rolling” substitutions. Inaccurate perception of physiological demand could negatively influence training prescription (for both intensity and volume).

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Luis Suarez-Arrones, Javier Núñez, Eduardo Sáez de Villareal, Javier Gálvez, Gabriel Suarez-Sanchez and Diego Munguía-Izquierdo

Purpose:

To describe the repeated-high-intensity activity and internal training load of rugby sevens players during international matches and to compare the differences between the 1st and 2nd halves.

Methods:

Twelve international-level male rugby sevens players were monitored during international competitive matches (n = 30 match files) using global positioning system technology and heart-rate monitoring.

Results:

The relative total distance covered by the players throughout the match was 112.1 ± 8.4 m/min. As a percentage of total distance, 35.0% (39.2 ± 9.0 m/min) was covered at medium speed and 17.1% (19.2 ± 6.8 m/min) at high speed. A substantial decrease in the distance covered at >14.0 km/h and >18.0 km/h, the number of accelerations of >2.78 m/s and >4.0 m/s, repeated-sprint sequences interspersed with ≤60 s rest, and repeated-acceleration sequences interspersed with ≤30 s or ≤60 s rest was observed in the 2nd half compared with the 1st half. A substantial increase in the mean heart rate (HR), HRmax, percentage of time at >80% HRmax and at >90% HRmax, and Edwards training load was observed in the 2nd half compared with the 1st half.

Conclusion:

This study provides evidence of a pronounced reduction in high-intensity and repeated-highintensity activities and increases in internal training load in rugby sevens players during the 2nd half of international matches.

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

Purpose:

To assess the influence of playing standard and physical fitness on pacing strategies during a junior team-sport tournament.

Methods:

A between-groups, repeated-measures design was used. Twenty-eight junior team-sport players (age 16.6 ± 0.5 y, body mass 79.9 ± 12.0 kg) from a high-standard and low-standard team participated in a junior rugby league tournament, competing in 5 games over 4 d (4 × 40-min and 1 × 50-min game). Players wore global positioning system (GPS) microtechnology during each game to provide information on match activity profiles. The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (level 1) was used to assess physical fitness before the competition.

Results:

High-standard players had an initially higher pacing strategy than the low-standard players, covering greater distances at high (ES = 1.32) and moderate speed (ES = 1.41) in game 1 and moderate speed (ES = 1.55) in game 2. However, low-standard players increased their playing intensity across the competition (ES = 0.57–2.04). High-standard/high-fitness players maintained a similar playing intensity, whereas high-standard/low-fitness players reduced their playing intensities across the competition.

Conclusions:

Well-developed physical fitness allows for a higher-intensity pacing strategy that can be maintained throughout a tournament. High-standard/low-fitness players reduce playing intensity, most likely due to increased levels of fatigue as the competition progresses. Low-standard players adopt a pacing strategy that allows them to conserve energy to produce an “end spurt” in the latter games. Maximizing endurance fitness across an entire playing group will maximize playing intensity and minimize performance reductions during the latter stages of a tournament.

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Georgia M. Black and Tim J. Gabbett

Purpose:

No study has investigated the frequency and nature of repeated high-intensity-effort (RHIE) bouts across elite and semielite rugby league competitions. This study examined RHIE activity in rugby league match play across playing standards.

Participants:

36 elite and 64 semielite rugby league players.

Methods:

Global positioning system analysis was completed during 17 elite and 14 semielite matches.

Results:

The most commonly occurring RHIE bouts involved 2 efforts (2-RHIE) for both elite and semielite players. Only small differences were found in 2-RHIE activity between elite and semielite match play (effect size [ES] ≥0.31 ± 0.15, ≥88%, likely). RHIE bouts were more likely to involve contact as the number of efforts in a bout increased (ES ≥0.40 ± 0.15, 100%, almost certainly). Semielite players performed a greater proportion of 2-contact-effort RHIE bouts than their elite counterparts (68.2% vs 60.6%, ES 0.33 ± 0.15, 92%, likely), while elite players performed a greater proportion of 3-effort bouts (26.9% vs 21.1%, ES 0.31 ± 0.15, 88%, likely). Elite players also had a shorter recovery (1.00−3.99 vs ≥4.00 min) between RHIE bouts (ES ≥1.60 ± 0.71, ≥94%, likely).

Conclusion:

These findings highlight the RHIE demands of elite and semielite rugby league match play. Elite players are more likely to perform RHIE bouts consisting of 3 efforts and to have a shorter recovery time between bouts. Exposing players to these RHIE demands in training is likely to improve their ability to tolerate the most demanding passages of match play.

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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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Laura A. Garvican, Kristal Hammond, Matthew C. Varley, Christopher J. Gore, Francois Billaut and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

This study investigated the decrement in running performance of elite soccer players competing at low altitude and time course for abatement of these decrements.

Methods:

Twenty elite youth soccer players had their activity profile, in a sea-level (SL) and 2 altitude (Alt, 1600 m, d 4, and d 6) matches, measured with a global positioning system. Measures expressed in meters per minute of match time were total distance, low- and high-velocity running (LoVR, 0.01–4.16 m/s; HiVR, 4.17–10.0 m/s), and frequency of maximal accelerations (>2.78 m/s2). The peak and subsequent stanza for each measure were identified and a transient fatigue index calculated. Mean heart rate (HR) during the final minute of a submaximal running task (5 min, 11 km/h) was recorded at SL and for 10 d at Alt. Differences were determined between SL and Alt using percentage change and effect-size (ES) statistic with 90% confidence intervals.

Results:

Mean HR almost certainly increased on d 1 (5.4%, ES 1.01 ± 0.35) and remained probably elevated on both d 2 (ES 0.42 ± 0.31) and d3 (ES 0.30 ± 0.25), returning to baseline at d 5. Total distance was almost certainly lower than SL (ES –0.76 ± 0.37) at d 4 and remained probably reduced on d 6 (ES –0.42 ± 0.36). HiVR probably decreased at d 4 vs SL (–0.47 ± 0.59), with no clear effect of altitude at d 6 (–0.08 ± 0.41). Transient fatigue in matches was evident at SL and Alt, with a possibly greater decrement at Alt.

Conclusion:

Despite some physiological adaptation, match running performance of youth soccer players is compromised for at least 6 d at low altitude.

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Jocelyn K. Mara, Kevin G. Thompson and Kate L. Pumpa

Purpose:

To investigate the physical and physiological response to different formats of various-sided games.

Methods:

Eighteen elite women’s soccer players wore 15-Hz global positioning system devices and heart-rate (HR) monitors during various-sided games (small, 4 vs 4 and 5 vs 5; medium, 6 vs 6 and 7 vs 7; large, 8 vs 8 and 9 vs 9).

Results:

Players covered more relative sprinting distance during large-sided games than in small-sided (P < .001, d = 0.69) and medium-sided (P < .001, d = 0.54) games. In addition, a greater proportion of total acceleration efforts that had a commencement velocity <1 m/s were observed in small-sided games (44.7% ± 5.5%) than in large-sided games (36.7% ± 10.6%) (P = .018, d = 0.94). This was accompanied by a greater proportion of acceleration efforts with a final velocity equivalent to the sprint threshold in large-sided games (15.4% ± 7.7%) than in small-sided games (5.2% ± 2.5%) (P < .001, d = 1.78). The proportion of time spent in HR zone 4 (>85% maximum HR) was greater during small-sided games (69.8% ± 2.5%) than in medium- (62.1% ± 2.8%, d = 2.90) and large-sided games (54.9% ± 3.1%) (P < .001, d = 5.29).

Conclusions:

The results from this study demonstrate that coaches can use small-sided games as an aerobic conditioning stimulus and to develop players’ explosiveness and repeat-sprint ability over short durations. Large-sided games can be used to maintain aerobic capacity and develop maximum speed over longer distances.