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Thomas Mullen, Jamie Highton and Craig Twist

It is important to understand the extent to which physical contact changes the internal and external load during rugby simulations that aim to replicate the demands of match play. Accordingly, this study examined the role of physical contact on the physiological and perceptual demands during and immediately after a simulated rugby league match. Nineteen male rugby players completed a contact (CON) and a noncontact (NCON) version of the rugby league match-simulation protocol in a randomized crossover design with 1 wk between trials. Relative distance covered (ES = 1.27; ±0.29), low-intensity activity (ES = 1.13; ±0.31), high-intensity running (ES = 0.49; ±0.34), heart rate (ES = 0.52; ±0.35), blood lactate concentration (ES = 0.78; ±0.34), rating of perceived exertion (RPE) (ES = 0.72; ±0.38), and session RPE (ES = 1.45; ±0.51) were all higher in the CON than in the NCON trial. However, peak speeds were lower in the CON trial (ES = −0.99; ±0.40) despite unclear reductions in knee-extensor (ES = 0.19; ±0.40) and -flexor (ES = 0.07; ±0.43) torque. Muscle soreness was also greater after CON than in the NCON trial (ES = 0.97; ±0.55). The addition of physical contact to the movement demands of a simulated rugby league match increases many of the external and internal demands but also results in players’ slowing their peak running speed during sprints. These findings highlight the importance of including contacts in simulation protocols and training practices designed to replicate the demands of real match play.

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Andrew Renfree, Graham J. Mytton, Sabrina Skorski and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

To identify tactical factors associated with progression from preliminary rounds in middle-distance running events at an international championship.

Methods:

Results from the 2012 Olympic Games were used to access final and intermediate positions, finishing times, and season-best (SB) times for competitors in men’s and women’s 800-m and 1500-m events (fifteen 800-m races and ten 1500-m races). Finishing times were calculated as %SB, and Pearson product–moment correlations were used to assess relationships between intermediate and finishing positions. Probability (P) of qualification to the next round was calculated for athletes in each available intermediate position.

Results:

There were no significant differences in finishing times relative to SB between qualifiers and nonqualifiers. In the 800-m, correlation coefficients between intermediate and final positions were r = .61 and r = .84 at 400 m and 600 m, respectively, whereas in the 1500-m, correlations were r = .35, r = .43, r = .55, and r = .71 at 400 m, 800 m, 1000 m, and 1200 m, respectively. In both events, probability of qualification decreased with position at all intermediate distances. At all points, those already in qualifying positions were more likely to qualify for the next round.

Conclusions:

The data demonstrate that tactical positioning at intermediate points in qualifying rounds of middle-distance races is a strong determinant of qualification. In 800-m races it is important to be in a qualifying position by 400 m. In the 1500-m event, although more changes in position are apparent, position at intermediate distances is still strongly related to successful qualification.

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Iñigo Mujika, Rafa González de Txabarri, Sara Maldonado-Martín and David B. Pyne

The warm-up procedure in traditional rowing usually involves continuous low-intensity rowing and short bouts of intense exercise, lasting about 60 min.

Purpose:

To compare the effects of a traditional and an experimental 30-min warm-up of lower intensity on indoor rowing time-trial performance.

Methods:

Fourteen highly trained male rowers (age 25.9 ± 5.3 y, height 1.86 ± 0.06 m, mass 80.4 ± 5.2 kg, peak aerobic power 352.0 ± 24.4 W; mean ± SD) performed 2 indoor rowing trials 12 d apart. Rowers were randomly assigned to either LONG or SHORT warm-ups using a crossover design, each followed by a 10-min all-out fixed-seat rowing-ergometer time trial.

Results:

Mean power output during the time trial was substantially higher after SHORT (322 ± 18 vs 316 ± 17 W), with rowers generating substantially more power in the initial 7.5 min of the time trial after SHORT. LONG elicited substantially higher mean warm-up heart rate than SHORT (134 ± 11 vs 121 ± 13 beats/min), higher pre–time-trial rating of perceived exertion (10.2 ± 1.4 vs 7.6 ± 1.7) and blood lactate (1.7 ± 0.4 mM vs 1.2 ± 0.2 mM), but similar heart rate (100 ± 14 vs 102 ± 9 beats/min). No substantial differences were observed between LONG and SHORT in stroke rate (39.4 ± 2.0 vs 39.4 ± 2.2 strokes/min) or mean heart rate (171 ± 6 vs 171 ± 8 beats/min) during the time trial, nor in blood lactate after it (11.8 ± 2.5 vs 12.1 ± 2.0 mM).

Conclusion:

A warm-up characterized by lower intensity and shorter duration should elicit less physiological strain and promote substantially higher power production in the initial stages of a rowing time trial.

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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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Kayla B. Henslin Harris, Carl Foster, Jos J. de Koning, Christopher Dodge, Glenn A. Wright and John P. Porcari

Previous studies have found decreases in arterial oxygen saturation to be temporally linked to reductions in power output (PO) during time-trial (TT) exercise. The purpose of this study was to determine whether preexercise desaturation (estimated from pulse oximetry [SpO2]), via normobaric hypoxia, would change the pattern of PO during a TT.

Purpose:

The authors tested the hypothesis that the starting PO of a TT would be reduced in the EARLY trial secondary to a reduced SpO2 but would not be reduced in LATE until ~30 s after the start of the TT.

Methods:

Eight trained cyclists/triathletes (4 male, 4 female) performed 3 randomly ordered 3-km TTs while breathing either room air (CONTROL) or hypoxic air administered 3 min before the start of the TT (EARLY) or at the beginning of the TT (LATE).

Results:

There was no effect of hypoxia on PO during the first 0.3 km of either the EARLY or the LATE trial compared with CONTROL, although there was a significant decrease in pre-TT SpO2 in EARLY vs CONTROL and LATE. The time for PO to decrease was ~40 s after the start of the TT in both EARLY and LATE.

Conclusions:

The results support the strong effect of the preexercise template on the pattern of PO during simulated competition and suggest that reductions in SpO2 are not direct signals to decrease PO.

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Philip F. Skiba, David Clarke, Anni Vanhatalo and Andrew M. Jones

Recently, an adaptation to the critical-power (CP) model was published, which permits the calculation of the balance of the work capacity available above the CP remaining (Wbal) at any time during intermittent exercise. As the model is now in use in both amateur and elite sport, the purpose of this investigation was to assess the validity of the Wbal model in the field. Data were collected from the bicycle power meters of 8 trained triathletes. Wbal was calculated and compared between files where subjects reported becoming prematurely exhausted during training or competition and files where the athletes successfully completed a difficult assigned task or race without becoming exhausted. Calculated Wbal was significantly different between the 2 conditions (P < .0001). The mean Wbal at exhaustion was 0.5 ± 1.3 kJ (95% CI = 0–0.9 kJ), whereas the minimum Wbal in the nonexhausted condition was 3.6 ± 2.0 kJ (95% CI = 2.1–4.0 kJ). Receiver-operator-characteristic (ROC) curve analysis indicated that the Wbal model is useful for identifying the point at which athletes are in danger of becoming exhausted (area under the ROC curve = .914, SE .05, 95% CI .82–1.0, P < .0001). The Wbal model may therefore represent a useful new development in assessing athlete fatigue state during training and racing.

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Hassane Zouhal, Abderraouf Ben Abderrahman, Jacques Prioux, Beat Knechtle, Lotfi Bouguerra, Wiem Kebsi and Timothy D. Noakes

Purpose:

To determine the effect of drafting on running time, physiological response, and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) during 3000-m track running.

Methods:

Ten elite middle- and long-distance runners performed 3 track-running sessions. The 1st session determined maximal oxygen uptake and maximal aerobic speed using a lightweight ambulatory respiratory gasexchange system (K4B2). The 2nd and the 3rd tests consisted of nondrafting 3000-m running (3000-mND) and 3000-m running with drafting for the 1st 2000 m (3000-mD) performed on the track in a randomized counterbalanced order.

Results:

Performance during the 3000-mND (553.59 ± 22.15 s) was significantly slower (P < .05) than during the 3000-mD (544.74 ± 18.72 s). Cardiorespiratory responses were not significantly different between the trials. However, blood lactate concentration was significantly higher (P < .05) after the 3000-mND (16.4 ± 2.3 mmol/L) than after the 3000-mD (13.2 ± 5.6 mmol/L). Athletes perceived the 3000-mND as more strenuous than the 3000-mD (P < .05) (RPE = 16.1 ± 0.8 vs 13.1 ± 1.3). Results demonstrate that drafting has a significant effect on performance in highly trained runners.

Conclusion:

This effect could not be explained by a reduced energy expenditure or cardiorespiratory effort as a result of drafting. This raises the possibility that drafting may aid running performance by both physiological and nonphysiological (ie, psychological) effects.

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Emiel Schulze, Hein A.M. Daanen, Koen Levels, Julia R. Casadio, Daniel J. Plews, Andrew E. Kilding, Rodney Siegel and Paul B. Laursen

Purpose:

To determine the effect of thermal state and thermal comfort on cycling performance in the heat.

Methods:

Seven well-trained male triathletes completed 3 performance trials consisting of 60 min cycling at a fixed rating of perceived exertion (14) followed immediately by a 20-km time trial in hot (30°C) and humid (80% relative humidity) conditions. In a randomized order, cyclists either drank ambient-temperature (30°C) fluid ad libitum during exercise (CON), drank ice slurry (−1°C) ad libitum during exercise (ICE), or precooled with iced towels and ice slurry ingestion (15g/kg) before drinking ice slurry ad libitum during exercise (PC+ICE). Power output, rectal temperature, and ratings of thermal comfort were measured.

Results:

Overall mean power output was possibly higher in ICE (+1.4% ± 1.8% [90% confidence limit]; 0.4 > smallest worthwhile change [SWC]) and likely higher PC+ICE (+2.5% ± 1.9%; 1.5 > SWC) than in CON; however, no substantial differences were shown between PC+ICE and ICE (unclear). Time-trial performance was likely enhanced in ICE compared with CON (+2.4% ± 2.7%; 1.4 > SWC) and PC+ICE (+2.9% ± 3.2%; 1.9 > SWC). Differences in mean rectal temperature during exercise were unclear between trials. Ratings of thermal comfort were likely and very likely lower during exercise in ICE and PC+ICE, respectively, than in CON.

Conclusions:

While PC+ICE had a stronger effect on mean power output compared with CON than ICE did, the ICE strategy enhanced late-stage time-trial performance the most. Findings suggest that thermal comfort may be as important as thermal state for maximizing performance in the heat.

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Robin S. Vealey and Susan M. Walter

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

Purpose:

To assess the impact of different repeated-high-intensity-effort (RHIE) bouts on player activity profiles, skill involvements, and neuromuscular fatigue during small-sided games.

Participants:

22 semiprofessional rugby league players (age 24.0 ± 1.8 y, body mass 95.6 ± 7.4 kg).

Methods:

During 4 testing sessions, they performed RHIE bouts that each differed in the combination of contact and running efforts, followed by a 5-min off-side small-sided game before performing a second bout of RHIE activity and another 5-min small-sided game. Global positioning system microtechnology and video recordings provided information on activity profiles and skill involvements. A countermovement jump and a plyometric push-up assessed changes in lower- and upper-body neuromuscular function after each session.

Results:

After running-dominant RHIE bouts, players maintained running intensities during both games. In the contact-dominant RHIE bouts, reductions in moderate-speed activity were observed from game 1 to game 2 (ES = –0.71 to –1.06). There was also moderately lower disposal efficiency across both games after contact-dominant RHIE activity compared with running-dominant activity (ES = 0.62–1.02). Greater reductions in lower-body fatigue occurred as RHIE bouts became more running dominant (ES = –0.01 to –1.36), whereas upper-body fatigue increased as RHIE bouts became more contact dominant (ES = –0.07 to –1.55).

Conclusions:

Physical contact causes reductions in running intensity and the quality of skill involvements during game-based activities. In addition, the neuromuscular fatigue experienced by players is specific to the activities performed.