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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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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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Jace A. Delaney, Heidi R. Thornton, John F. Pryor, Andrew M. Stewart, Ben J. Dascombe and Grant M. Duthie

Purpose:

To quantify the duration and position-specific peak running intensities of international rugby union for the prescription and monitoring of specific training methodologies.

Methods:

Global positioning systems (GPS) were used to assess the activity profile of 67 elite-level rugby union players from 2 nations across 33 international matches. A moving-average approach was used to identify the peak relative distance (m/min), average acceleration/deceleration (AveAcc; m/s2), and average metabolic power (Pmet) for a range of durations (1–10 min). Differences between positions and durations were described using a magnitude-based network.

Results:

Peak running intensity increased as the length of the moving average decreased. There were likely small to moderate increases in relative distance and AveAcc for outside backs, halfbacks, and loose forwards compared with the tight 5 group across all moving-average durations (effect size [ES] = 0.27–1.00). Pmet demands were at least likely greater for outside backs and halfbacks than for the tight 5 (ES = 0.86–0.99). Halfbacks demonstrated the greatest relative distance and Pmet outputs but were similar to outside backs and loose forwards in AveAcc demands.

Conclusions:

The current study has presented a framework to describe the peak running intensities achieved during international rugby competition by position, which are considerably higher than previously reported whole-period averages. These data provide further knowledge of the peak activity profiles of international rugby competition, and this information can be used to assist coaches and practitioners in adequately preparing athletes for the most demanding periods of play.