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Mark Waldron, Jamie Highton and Craig Twist

Purpose:

This study assessed the reliability of a rugby league movement-simulation protocol, relative to interchanged players (RLMSP-i).

Methods:

Fifteen male participants completed 2 trials of the RLMSP-i, separated by 1 wk. The RLMSP-i comprised low- to moderate-intensity running, interspersed by high-intensity sprinting and tackling activity, based on global positioning system (GPS) data recorded during Super League performances.

Results:

The lowest coefficient of variation (CV ± 95% CI) was observed for total m/min during both interchange bout 1 (1.1% ± 0.2%) and bout 2 (1.0% ± 0.2%). The percentage of heart rate peak and ratings of perceived exertion demonstrated CVs of 1.2–2.0% and 2.9–3.5%, respectively. The poorest agreement between trials was found for blood lactate concentration (16.2% ± 2.8%). In no case was the CV smaller than the smallest worthwhile change, yet in every case the moderate changes were larger than the CV.

Conclusions:

The RLMSP-i’s reliability is sufficient to enable the detection of moderate changes in various performance and physiological measurements that accurately simulate some, but not all, aspects of rugby league matches.

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Dac Minh Tuan Nguyen, Virgile Lecoultre, Andrew P. Hills and Yves Schutz

Background:

Increases in physical activity (PA) are promoted by walking in an outdoor environment. Along with walking speed, slope is a major determinant of exercise intensity, and energy expenditure. The hypothesis was that in free-living conditions, a hilly environment diminishes PA to a greater extent in obese (OB) when compared with control (CO) individuals.

Methods:

To assess PA types and patterns, 28 CO (22 ± 2 kg/m2) and 14 OB (33 ± 4 kg/m2) individuals wore during an entire day 2 accelerometers and 1 GPS device, around respectively their waist, ankle and shoulder. They performed their usual PA and were asked to walk an additional 60 min per day.

Results:

The duration of inactivity and activity with OB individuals tended to be, respectively, higher and lower than that of CO individuals (P = .06). Both groups spent less time walking uphill/downhill than on the level (20%, 19%, vs. 61% of total walking duration, respectively, P < .001). However OB individuals spent less time walking uphill/downhill per day than CO (25 ± 15 and 38 ± 15 min/d, respectively, P < 0.05) and covered a shorter distance per day (3.8 km vs 5.2 km, P < 0.01).

Conclusions:

BMI and outdoor topography should also be considered when prescribing extra walking in free-living conditions.

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Louise Martin, Anneliese Lambeth-Mansell, Liane Beretta-Azevedo, Lucy A. Holmes, Rachel Wright and Alan St Clair Gibson

Purpose:

Given the paucity of research on pacing strategies during competitive events, this study examined changes in dynamic high-resolution performance parameters to analyze pacing profiles during a multiple-lap mountain-bike race over variable terrain.

Methods:

A global-positioning-system (GPS) unit (Garmin, Edge 305, USA) recorded velocity (m/s), distance (m), elevation (m), and heart rate at 1 Hz from 6 mountain-bike riders (mean ± SD age = 27.2 ± 5.0 y, stature = 176.8 ± 8.1 cm, mass = 76.3 ± 11.7 kg, VO2max = 55.1 ± 6.0 mL · kg−1 . min−1) competing in a multilap race. Lap-by-lap (interlap) pacing was analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA for mean time and mean velocity. Velocity data were averaged every 100 m and plotted against race distance and elevation to observe the presence of intralap variation.

Results:

There was no significant difference in lap times (P = .99) or lap velocity (P = .65) across the 5 laps. Within each lap, a high degree of oscillation in velocity was observed, which broadly reflected changes in terrain, but high-resolution data demonstrated additional nonmonotonic variation not related to terrain.

Conclusion:

Participants adopted an even pace strategy across the 5 laps despite rapid adjustments in velocity during each lap. While topographical and technical variations of the course accounted for some of the variability in velocity, the additional rapid adjustments in velocity may be associated with dynamic regulation of self-paced exercise.

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Darren Burgess, Geraldine Naughton and Kevin Norton

Purpose:

The understanding of the gap between Under 18 y (U18) and senior-level competition and the evolution of this gap in Australian Football lack a strong evidence base. Despite the multimillion dollars invested in recruitment, scientific research on successful transition is limited. No studies have compared individual players’ movement rate, game statistics and ball speed in U18 and senior competition of the Australian Football League across time. This project compared differences in player movement and ball speed between matches from senior AFL competitive matches and U18 players in the 2003 and 2009 seasons.

Methods:

TrakPerformance Software and Global Positioning System (GPS) technology were used to analyze the movement of players, ball speed and game statistics. ANOVA compared the two levels of competition over time.

Results:

Observed interactions for distance traveled per minute of play (P = .009), number of sprints per minute of play (P < .001), time spent at sprint speed in the game (P < .001), time on field (P < .001), and ball speed (P < .001) were found. Subsequent analysis identified increases in movement patterns in senior AFL competition in 2009 compared with the same level of competition in 2003 and U18 players in 2003 and 2009.

Conclusions:

Senior AFL players in 2009 were moving further, sprinting relatively more frequently, playing less time and playing at game speeds significantly greater than the same senior competition in 2003 as well as compared with both cohorts of U18 players.

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Michael J. Davies, Warren Young, Damian Farrow and Andrew Bahnert

Purpose:

To compare the agility demands of 4 small-sided games (SSGs) and evaluate the variability in demands for elite Australian Football (AF).

Methods:

Fourteen male elite Australian Football League (AFL) players (mean ± SD; 21.7 ± 3.1 y, 189.6 ± 9.0 cm, 88.7 ± 10.0 kg, 39.4 ± 57.1 games) completed 4 SSGs of 3 × 45-s bouts each with modified designs. Video notational analysis, GPS at 5 Hz, and triaxial accelerometer data expressed the external player loads within games. Three comparisons were made using a paired t test (P < .05), and magnitudes of differences were reported with effect size (ES) statistics.

Results:

Reduced area per player (increased density) produced a small increase in total agility maneuvers (SSG1, 7.2 ± 1.3; SSG2, 8.8 ± 4.1), while a large 2D player load was accumulated (P < .05, ES = 1.22). A reduction in players produced a moderate (ES = 0.60) total number of agility maneuvers (SSG 3, 11.3 ± 6.1; SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6); however, a greater variability was found. The implementation of a 2-handed-tag rule resulted in a somewhat trivial decline (P > .05, ES = 0.16) in agility events compared with normal AFL tackling rules (SSG 2, 8.3 ± 3.6; SSG 4, 7.8 ± 2.6).

Conclusions:

SSG characteristics can influence agility-training demand, which can vary considerably for individuals. Coaches should carefully consider SSG design to maximize the potential to develop agility for all players.

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Timothy B. Hartwig, Geraldine Naughton and John Searl

Purpose:

Investigating adolescent training loads might help us understand optimal training adaptations. GPS tracking devices and training diaries were used to quantify weekly sport and other physical activity demands placed on adolescent rugby union players and profile typical rugby training sessions.

Methods:

Participants were 75 males age 14 to 18 y who were recruited from rugby teams representing 3 levels of participation: schoolboy, national representative, and a selective sports school talent squad.

Results:

Schoolboy players covered a distance of (mean ± SD) 3511 ± 836 m, representative-squad players 3576 ± 956 m, and talent-squad players 2208 ± 637 m per rugby training session. The representative squad recorded the highest weekly duration of sport and physical activity (515 ± 222 min/wk), followed by the talent squad (421 ± 211 min/week) and schoolboy group (370 ± 135 min/wk). Profiles of individual players identified as group outliers showed participation in up to 3 games and up to 11 training sessions per week, with twice the weekly load of the team averages.

Conclusion:

Optimal participation and performance of adolescent rugby union players might be compromised by many high-load, high-impact training sessions and games and commitments to other sports and physical activities. An improved understanding of monitoring and quantifying load in adolescent athletes is needed to facilitate best-practice advice for player management and training prescription.

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Jakob Tarp, Lars B. Andersen and Lars Østergaard

Background:

Cycling to and from school is an important source of physical activity (PA) in youth but it is not captured by the dominant objective method to quantify PA. The aim of this study was to quantify the underestimation of objectively assessed PA caused by cycling when using accelerometry.

Methods:

Participants were 20 children aged 11 to 14 years from a randomized controlled trial performed in 2011. Physical activity was assessed by accelerometry with the addition of heart rate monitoring during cycling to school. Global positioning system (GPS) was used to identify periods of cycling to school.

Results:

Mean minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) during round-trip commutes was 10.8 (95% CI: 7.1−16.6). Each kilometer of cycling meant an underestimation of 9314 (95% CI: 7719−11238) counts and 2.7 (95% CI: 2.1−3.5) minutes of MVPA. Adjusting for cycling to school increased estimates of MVPA/day by 6.0 (95% CI: 3.8−9.6) minutes.

Conclusions:

Cycling to and from school contribute substantially to levels of MVPA and to mean counts/min in children. This was not collected by accelerometers. Using distance to school in conjunction with self-reported cycling to school may be a simple tool to improve the methodology.

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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.

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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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Jace A. Delaney, Heidi R. Thornton, Grant M. Duthie and Ben J. Dascombe

Background:

Rugby league coaches adopt replacement strategies for their interchange players to maximize running intensity; however, it is important to understand the factors that may influence match performance.

Purpose:

To assess the independent factors affecting running intensity sustained by interchange players during professional rugby league.

Methods:

Global positioning system (GPS) data were collected from all interchanged players (starters and nonstarters) in a professional rugby league squad across 24 matches of a National Rugby League season. A multilevel mixed-model approach was employed to establish the effect of various technical (attacking and defensive involvements), temporal (bout duration, time in possession, etc), and situational (season phase, recovery cycle, etc) factors on the relative distance covered and average metabolic power (Pmet) during competition. Significant effects were standardized using correlation coefficients, and the likelihood of the effect was described using magnitude-based inferences.

Results:

Superior intermittent running ability resulted in very likely large increases in both relative distance and Pmet. As the length of a bout increased, both measures of running intensity exhibited a small decrease. There were at least likely small increases in running intensity for matches played after short recovery cycles and against strong opposition. During a bout, the number of collision-based involvements increased running intensity, whereas time in possession and ball time out of play decreased demands.

Conclusions:

These data demonstrate a complex interaction of individual- and match-based factors that require consideration when developing interchange strategies, and the manipulation of training loads during shorter recovery periods and against stronger opponents may be beneficial.