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James J. Malone, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Darren Burgess, James P. Morton and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players of the English Premier League.

Methods:

Thirty players were sampled (using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) during the daily training sessions of the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across 6 × 1-wk microcycles. In-season data were analyzed across 6 × 6-wk mesocycle blocks and 3 × 1-wk microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed with respect to number of days before a match.

Results:

Typical daily training load (ie, total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate [%HRmax], RPE load) did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th. %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3−5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Furthermore, training load was lower on the day before match (MD-1) than 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) d before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions:

The authors provide the 1st report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players and observed that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1 (regardless of mesocycle), whereas no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are facilitative of optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

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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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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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Aaron T. Scanlan, Ben J. Dascombe, Andrew P. Kidcaff, Jessica L. Peucker and Vincent J. Dalbo

Purpose:

To compare game activity demands between female and male semiprofessional basketball players.

Methods:

Female (n = 12) and male (n = 12) semiprofessional basketball players were monitored across 3 competitive games. Time–motion-analysis procedures quantified player activity into predefined movement categories across backcourt (BC) and frontcourt (FC) positions. Activity frequencies, durations, and distances were calculated relative to live playing time (min). Work:rest ratios were also calculated using the video data. Game activity was compared between genders for each playing position and all players.

Results:

Female players performed at greater running work-rates than male players (45.7 ± 1.4 vs. 42.1 ± 1.7 m/min, P = .05), while male players performed more dribbling than female players (2.5 ± 0.3 vs. 3.0 ± 0.2 s/min; 8.4 ± 0.3 vs. 9.7 ± 0.7 m/min, P = .05). Positional analyses revealed that female BC players performed more low-intensity shuffling (P = .04) and jumping (P = .05), as well as longer (P = .04) jogging durations, than male BC players. Female FC players executed more upper-body activity (P = .03) and larger work:rest ratios (P < .001) than male FC players. No significant gender differences were observed in the overall intermittent demands, distance traveled, high-intensity shuffling activity, and sprinting requirements during game play.

Conclusions:

These findings indicate that gender-specific running and dribbling differences might exist in semiprofessional basketball. Furthermore, position-specific variations between female and male basketball players should be considered. These data may prove useful in the development of gender-specific conditioning plans relative to playing position in basketball.

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Hugh H.K. Fullagar, Rob Duffield, Sabrina Skorski, David White, Jonathan Bloomfield, Sarah Kölling and Tim Meyer

Purpose:

The current study examined the sleep, travel, and recovery responses of elite footballers during and after long-haul international air travel, with a further description of these responses over the ensuing competitive tour (including 2 matches).

Methods:

In an observational design, 15 elite male football players undertook 18 h of predominantly westward international air travel from the United Kingdom to South America (–4-h time-zone shift) for a 10-d tour. Objective sleep parameters, external and internal training loads, subjective player match performance, technical match data, and perceptual jet-lag and recovery measures were collected.

Results:

Significant differences were evident between outbound travel and recovery night 1 (night of arrival; P < .001) for sleep duration. Sleep efficiency was also significantly reduced during outbound travel compared with recovery nights 1 (P = .001) and 2 (P = .004). Furthermore, both match nights (5 and 10), showed significantly less sleep than nonmatch nights 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 (all P < .001). No significant differences were evident between baseline and any time point for all perceptual measures of jet-lag and recovery (P > .05), although large effects were evident for jet-lag on d 2 (2 d after arrival).

Conclusions:

Sleep duration is truncated during long-haul international travel with a 4-h time-zone delay and after night matches in elite footballers. However, this lost sleep appeared to have a limited effect on perceptual recovery, which may be explained by a westbound flight and a relatively small change in time zones, in addition to the significant increase in sleep duration on the night of arrival after the long-haul flight.

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Anthea C. Clarke, Judith M. Anson and David B. Pyne

Purpose:

To examine relationships between on-field game movement patterns and changes in markers of neuromuscular fatigue and muscle damage during a 2-d women’s rugby sevens tournament.

Methods:

Female national (mean ± SD n = 12, 22.3 ± 2.5 y, 1.67 ± 0.04 m, 65.8 ± 4.6 kg) and state (n = 10, 24.4 ± 4.3 y, 1.67 ± 0.03 m, 66.1 ± 7.9 kg) representative players completed baseline testing for lower-body neuromuscular function (countermovement-jump [CMJ] test), muscle damage (capillary creatine kinase [CK]), perceived soreness, and perceived recovery. Testing was repeated after games on days 1 and 2 of the tournament. GPS (5-Hz) data were collected throughout the tournament (4−6 games/player).

Results:

National players were involved in greater on-field movements for total time, distance, high-speed running (>5 m/s), and impacts >10 g (effect size [ES] = 0.55−0.97) and displayed a smaller decrement in performance from day 1 to day 2. Despite this, state players had a much greater 4-fold increase (ΔCK = 737 U/L) in CK compared with the 2-fold increase (ΔCK = 502 U/L) in national players (ES = 0.73). Both groups had similar perceived soreness and recovery while CMJ performance was unchanged. High-speed running and impacts >10 g were largely correlated (r = .66−.91) with ΔCK for both groups.

Conclusion:

A 2-day women’s rugby sevens tournament elicits substantial muscle damage; however, there was little change in lower-body neuromuscular function. Modest increases in CK can largely be attributed to high-speed running and impacts >10 g that players typically endure.

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Sonya L. Cameron, Rebecca T. McLay-Cooke, Rachel C. Brown, Andrew R. Gray and Kirsty A. Fairbairn

Purpose:

This study investigated the effect of ingesting 0.3 g/kg body weight (BW) of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) on physiological responses, gastrointestinal (GI) tolerability, and sprint performance in elite rugby union players.

Methods:

Twenty-five male rugby players, age 21.6 (2.6) yr, participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Sixty-five minutes after consuming 0.3 g/kg BW of either NaHCO3 or placebo, participants completed a 25-min warm-up followed by 9 min of high-intensity rugby-specific training followed by a rugby-specific repeated-sprint test (RSRST). Whole-blood samples were collected to determine lactate and bicarbonate concentrations and pH at baseline, after supplement ingestion, and immediately after the RSRST. Acute GI discomfort was assessed by questionnaire throughout the trials, and chronic GI discomfort was assessed during the 24 hr postingestion.

Results:

After supplement ingestion and immediately after the RSRST, blood HCO3 concentration and pH were higher for the NaHCO3 condition than for the placebo condition (p < .001). After the RSRST, blood lactate concentrations were significantly higher for the NaHCO3 than for the placebo condition (p < .001). There was no difference in performance on the RSRST between the 2 conditions. The incidence of belching, stomachache, diarrhea, stomach bloating, and nausea was higher after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (all p < .050). The severity of stomach cramps, belching, stomachache, bowel urgency, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach bloating, and flatulence was rated worse after ingestion of NaHCO3 than with placebo (p < .050).

Conclusions:

NaHCO3 supplementation increased blood HCO3 concentration and attenuated the decline in blood pH compared with placebo during high-intensity exercise in well-trained rugby players but did not significantly improve exercise performance. The higher incidence and greater severity of GI symptoms after ingestion of NaHCO3 may negatively affect physical performance, and the authors strongly recommend testing this supplement during training before use in competitive situations.

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Billy T. Hulin, Tim J. Gabbett, Simon Kearney and Alex Corvo

Purpose:

To quantify activity profiles in approximately 5-min periods to determine if the intensity of rugby league match play changes after the most intense period of play and to determine if the intensity of activity during predefined periods of match play differ between successful and less-successful teams playing at an elite standard.

Methods:

Movement was recorded using a MinimaxX global positioning system (GPS) unit sampling at 10 Hz during 25 rugby league matches, equating to 200 GPS files. Data for each half of match play were separated into 8 equal periods. These periods represented the most intense phase of match play (peak period), the period after the most intense phase of match play (subsequent period), and the average demands of all other periods in a match (mean period). Two rugby league teams were split into a high-success and a low-success group based on their success rates throughout their season.

Results:

Compared with their less-successful counterparts, adjustables and hit-up forwards from the high-success team covered less total distance (P < .01) and less high-intensity-running distance (P < .01) and were involved in a greater number of collisions (P < .01) during the mean period of match play.

Conclusions:

Although a greater number of collisions during match play is linked with a greater rate of success, greater amounts of high-intensity running and total distance are not related to competitive success in elite rugby league. These results suggest that technical and tactical differences, rather than activity profiles, may be the distinguishing factor between successful and less-successful rugby league teams.

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Jeremy Williams, Grant Abt and Andrew E. Kilding

Purpose:

To determine the effects of acute short-term creatine (Cr) supplementation on physical performance during a 90-min soccer-specific performance test.

Methods:

A double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design was adopted during which 16 male amateur soccer players were required to consume 20 g/d Cr for 7 d or a placebo. A Ball-Sport Endurance and Speed Test (BEAST) comprising measures of aerobic (circuit time), speed (12- and 20-m sprint), and explosive-power (vertical jump) abilities performed over 90 min was performed presupplementation and postsupplementation.

Results:

Performance measures during the BEAST deteriorated during the second half relative to the first for both Cr (1.2–2.3%) and placebo (1.0–2.2%) groups, indicating a fatigue effect associated with the BEAST. However, no significant differences existed between groups, suggesting that Cr had no performance-enhancing effect or ability to offset fatigue. When effect sizes were considered, some measures (12-m sprint, –0.53 ± 0.69; 20-m sprint, –0.39 ± 0.59) showed a negative tendency, indicating chances of harm were greater than chances of benefit.

Conclusions:

Acute short-term Cr supplementation has no beneficial effect on physical measures obtained during a 90-min soccer-simulation test, thus bringing into question its potential as an effective ergogenic aid for soccer players.

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Blake D. McLean, Aaron J. Coutts, Vince Kelly, Michael R. McGuigan and Stuart J. Cormack

Introduction:

The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in neuromuscular, perceptual and hormonal measures following professional rugby league matches during different length between-match microcycles.

Methods:

Twelve professional rugby league players from the same team were assessed for changes in countermovement jump (CMJ) performance (fight time and relative power), perceptual responses (fatigue, well-being and muscle soreness) and salivary hormone (testosterone [T] and cortisol [C]) levels during 5, 7 and 9 d between-match training microcycles. All training was prescribed by the club coaches and was monitored using the session-RPE method.

Results:

Lower mean daily training load was completed on the 5 d compared with the 7 and 9 d microcycles. CMJ fight time and relative power, perception of fatigue, overall well-being and muscle soreness were signifcantly reduced in the 48 h following the match in each microcycle (P < .05). Most CMJ variables returned to near baseline values following 4 d in each microcycle. Countermovement jump relative power was lower in the 7 d microcycle in comparison with the 9 d microcycle (P < .05). There was increased fatigue at 48 h in the 7 and 9 d microcycles (P < .05) but had returned to baseline in the 5 d microcycle. Salivary T and C did not change in response to the match.

Discussion:

Neuromuscular performance and perception of fatigue are reduced for at least 48 h following a rugby league match but can be recovered to baseline levels within 4 d. These fndings show that with appropriate training, it is possible to recover neuromuscular and perceptual measures within 4 d after a rugby league match.