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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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Jake Schuster, Dan Howells, Julien Robineau, Anthony Couderc, Alex Natera, Nick Lumley, Tim J. Gabbett and Nick Winkelman

Rugby sevens, a sport new to the Olympics, features high-intensity intermittent running and contact efforts over short match durations, normally 6 times across 2 to 3 d in a tournament format. Elite rugby sevens seasons often include over a dozen competitive tournaments over less than 9 months, demanding deliberate and careful training-stress balance and workload management alongside development of the necessary physical qualities required for competition. Focus on running and repeated power skills, strength, and match-specific conditioning capacities is advised. Partial taper approaches in combination with high-speed running (>5 m/s from GPS measures) before and between tournaments in succession may reduce injury rates and enhance performance. In a sport with substantial long-haul intercontinental travel and repetitive chronic load demands, management of logistics including nutrition and recovery is inclusive of the formula for success in the physical preparation of elite rugby sevens athletes.

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Sarah Hardcastle and Adrian H. Taylor

There has been increasing interest in promoting health-enhancing exercise in primary-care services. One popular approach in the U.K. has been general practitioner (GP) exercise-referral plans in which mostly sedentary patients are referred by GPs to an exercise program at a local leisure center. It is not clear, however, how older women assimilate such a referral system into cognitive processes associated with physical activity involvement. This interpretivist study adopted unstructured interviewing and life-story technique to embrace subjectivity and contextuality in an attempt to capture the complex processes and to explore both common and diverse experience. The study explored referred older women's accounts of their past and current experiences of physical activity and their perceptions of what blocks or motivates them to be active. Fifteen newly referred older women (50–80 years old) were interviewed at various points during their prescribed 10-week exercise program. The findings highlight the importance of psychosocial dimensions and informal networks in the referral processes.

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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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Robert J. Aughey

Previous research has suggested elite Australian footballers undertake pacing strategies to preserve high intensity activity later in matches. However, this research used GPS with slow sample rates, did not express performance relative to minutes played during games and used lowly ranked players.

Methods:

Therefore in this study movement was recorded by GPS at 5 Hz. Running performance was expressed per period of the match (rotation) divided into low-intensity activity (LIA, 0.10 to 4.17 m⋅s–1); high-intensity running (HIR, 4.17 to 10.00 m⋅s–1) and maximal accelerations (2.78 to 10.00 m⋅s–2). All data were expressed relative to the first period of play in the match and the magnitude of effects was analyzed with the effect size (ES) statistic and expressed with confidence intervals.

Results:

The total and LIA distance covered by players did not change by a practically important magnitude during games (ES< 0.20). High intensity running was reduced in both rotations of the second quarter, Q3R2 and both rotations of the fourth quarter (ES -0.30 ± 0.14; -0.42 ± 0.14; -0.30 ± 0.14; -0.42 ± 0.14; and -0.48 ± 0.15 respectively). Maximal acceleration performance was reduced in Q1R2, and each rotation of the second half of matches.

Conclusion:

When expressed per minute of game time played, total distance and low intensity activity distance are not reduced by a practically important magnitude in AF players during a match. These data are therefore inconsistent with the concept of team sport players pacing their effort during matches. However, both high intensity running and maximal accelerations are reduced later in games, indicative of significant fatigue in players.

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Nacho Torreño, Diego Munguía-Izquierdo, Aaron Coutts, Eduardo Sáez de Villarreal, Jose Asian-Clemente and Luis Suarez-Arrones

Purpose:

To analyze the match running profile, distance traveled over successive 15 min of match play, heart rates (HRs), and index of performance efficiency (effindex) of professional soccer players with a global positioning system (GPS) and HR in official competition.

Methods:

Twenty-six professional players were investigated during full matches in competitive club-level matches (N = 223). Time–motion data and HR were collected using GPS and HR technology.

Results:

The relative total distance was 113 ± 11 m/min, with substantial differences between halves. For all playing positions, a substantial decrease in total distance and distance covered at >13.0 km/h was observed in the second half in comparison with the first. The decrease during the second half in distance covered at >13.0 km/h was substantially higher than in total distance. The average HR recorded was 86.0% maximal HR, and the relationship between external and internal load (effindex) was 1.3, with substantial differences between halves in all playing positions, except strikers for effindex. Wide midfielders reflected substantially the lowest mean HR and highest effindex, whereas center backs showed substantially the lowest effindex of all playing positions.

Conclusions:

The current study confirmed the decrement in a player’s performance toward the end of a match in all playing positions. Wide midfielders displayed the highest and fittest levels of physical and physiological demands, respectively, whereas center backs had the lowest and least-fit levels of physical and physiological demands, respectively. The position-specific relationship between external and internal load confirms that players with more overall running performance during the full match were the best in effindex.

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Johnny E. Nilsson and Hans G. Rosdahl

The purpose was to investigate the contribution of leg-muscle-generated forces to paddle force and kayak speed during maximaleffort flat-water paddling. Five elite male kayakers at national and international level participated. The participants warmed up at progressively increasing speeds and then performed a maximal-effort, nonrestricted paddling sequence. This was followed after 5 min rest by a maximal-effort paddling sequence with the leg action restricted—the knee joints “locked.” Left- and rightside foot-bar and paddle forces were recorded with specially designed force devices. In addition, knee angular displacement of the right and left knees was recorded with electrogoniometric technique, and the kayak speed was calculated from GPS signals sampled at 5 Hz. The results showed that reduction in both push and pull foot-bar forces resulted in a reduction of 21% and 16% in mean paddle-stroke force and mean kayak speed, respectively. Thus, the contribution of foot-bar force from lower-limb action significantly contributes to kayakers’ paddling performance.

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Sam Coad, Bon Gray, George Wehbe and Christopher McLellan

Purpose:

To examine the response or pre- and postmatch salivary immunoglobulin A concentration ([s-IgA]) to Australian Football League (AFL) match play and investigate the acute and cumulative influence of player workload and postmatch [s-IgA] after repeated participation in AFL match play.

Methods:

Eleven elite AFL athletes (21.8 ± 2.4 y, 186.9 ± 7.9 cm, 87.4 ± 7.5 kg) were monitored throughout 3 matches during the preseason that were separated by 7 d. Saliva samples were collected across each AFL match at 24 h and 1 h prematch and 1, 12, 36, and 60 h postmatch to determine [s-IgA]. Global positioning systems (GPS) with integrated triaxial accelerometers were used to determine total player workload during match play. Hypothesis testing was conducted for time-dependent changes in [s-IgA] and player load using a repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results:

Player load during match 3 (1266 ± 124.6 AU) was significantly (P < .01) greater than in match 1 (1096 ± 115.1 AU) and match 2 (1082 ± 90.4 AU). Across match 3, [s-IgA] was significantly (P < .01) suppressed at 2 postmatch measures (12 and 36 h) compared with prematch measures (24 and 1 h), which coincided with significantly (P < .01) elevated player load.

Conclusion:

The findings indicate that an increase in player load during AFL preseason match play resulted in compromised postmatch mucosal immunological function. Longitudinal assessment of AFL-match player load and mucosal immunological function across the first 60 h of recovery may augment monitoring and preparedness strategies for athletes.

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

Purpose:

To investigate the variation in training demands, physical performance, and player well-being across a women’s soccer season.

Methods:

Seventeen elite female players wore GPS tracking devices during every training session (N = 90) throughout 1 national-league season. Intermittent high-speed-running capacity and 5-, 15-, and 25-m-sprint testing were conducted at the beginning of preseason, end of preseason, midseason, and end of season. In addition, subjective well-being measures were selfreported daily by players over the course of the season.

Results:

Time over 5 m was lowest at the end of preseason (mean 1.148 s, SE 0.017 s) but then progressively deteriorated to the end of the season (P < .001). Sprint performance over 15 m improved by 2.8% (P = .013) after preseason training, while 25-m-sprint performance peaked at midseason, with a 3.1% (P = .05) improvement from the start of preseason, before declining at the end of season (P = .023). Training demands varied between phases, with total distance and high-speed distance greatest during preseason before decreasing (P < .001) during the early- and late-season phases. Endurance capacity and well-being measures did not change across training phases.

Conclusions:

Monitoring training demands and subsequent physical performance in elite female soccer players allow coaches to ensure that training periodization goals are being met and related positive training adaptations are being elicited.

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Sam Coad, Bon Gray and Christopher McLellan

Purpose:

To assess match-to-match variations in salivary immunoglobulin A concentration ([s-IgA]) measured at 36 h postmatch throughout an Australian Football League (AFL) premiership season and to assess the trends between 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] and match-play exercise workloads throughout the same season.

Methods:

Eighteen elite male AFL athletes (24 ± 4.2 y, 187.0 ± 7.1 cm, 87.0 ± 7.6 kg) were monitored on a weekly basis to determine total match-play exercise workloads and 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] throughout 16 consecutive matches in an AFL premiership season. Global positioning systems (GPS) with integrated triaxial accelerometers were used to measure exercise workloads (PlayerLoad) during each AFL match. A linear mixed-model analyses was conducted for time-dependent changes in [s-IgA] and player load.

Results:

A significant main effect was found for longitudinal postmatch [s-IgA] data (F 16,240 = 3.78, P < .01) and PlayerLoad data (F 16,66 = 1.98, P = .03). For all matches after and including match 7, a substantial suppression trend in [s-IgA] 36-h-postmatch values was found compared with preseason baseline [s-IgA].

Conclusion:

The current study provides novel data regarding longitudinal trends in 36-h-postmatch [s-IgA] for AFL athletes. Results demonstrate that weekly in-season AFL match-play exercise workloads may result in delayed mucosal immunological recovery beyond 36 h postmatch. The inclusion of individual athlete-monitoring strategies of [s-IgA] may be advantageous in the detection of compromised postmatch mucosal immunological function for AFL athletes.