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Luke J. Boyd, Kevin Ball and Robert J. Aughey

Purpose:

To describe the external load of Australian football matches and training using accelerometers.

Methods:

Nineteen elite and 21 subelite Australian footballers wore accelerometers during matches and training. Accelerometer data were expressed in 2 ways: from all 3 axes (player load; PL) and from all axes when velocity was below 2 m/s (PLSLOW). Differences were determined between 4 playing positions (midfielders, nomadics, deeps, and ruckmen), 2 playing levels (elite and subelite), and matches and training using percentage change and effect size with 90% confidence intervals.

Results:

In the elite group, midfielders recorded higher PL than nomadics and deeps did (8.8%, 0.59 ± 0.24; 34.2%, 1.83 ± 0.39 respectively), and ruckmen were higher than deeps (37.2%, 1.27 ± 0.51). Elite midfielders, nomadics, and ruckmen recorded higher PLSLOW than deeps (13.5%, 0.65 ± 0.37; 11.7%, 0.55 ± 0.36; and 19.5%, 0.83 ± 0.50, respectively). Subelite midfielders were higher than nomadics, deeps, and ruckmen (14.0%, 1.08 ± 0.30; 31.7%, 2.61 ± 0.42; and 19.9%, 0.81 ± 0.55, respectively), and nomadics and ruckmen were higher than deeps for PL (20.6%, 1.45 ± 0.38; and 17.4%, 0.57 ± 0.55, respectively). Elite midfielders, nomadics, and ruckmen recorded higher PL (7.8%, 0.59 ± 0.29; 12.9%, 0.89 ± 0.25; and 18.0%, 0.67 ± 0.59, respectively) and PLSLOW (9.4%, 0.52 ± 0.30; 11.3%, 0.68 ± 0.25; and 14.1%, 0.84 ± 0.61, respectively) than subelite players. Small-sided games recorded the highest PL and PLSLOW and were the only training drill to equal or exceed the load from matches across positions and playing levels.

Conclusion:

PL differed between positions, with midfielders the highest, and between playing levels, with elite higher. Differences between matches and training were also evident, with PL from small-sided games equivalent to or higher than matches.

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Live S. Luteberget and Matt Spencer

Purpose:

International women’s team handball is a physically demanding sport and is intermittent in nature. The aim of the study was to profile high-intensity events (HIEs) in international women’s team handball matches with regard to playing positions.

Methods:

Twenty female national-team handball players were equipped with inertial movement units (OptimEye S5, Catapult Sports, Australia) in 9 official international matches. Players were categorized in 4 different playing positions: backs, wings, pivots, and goalkeepers (GKs). PlayerLoad™, accelerations (Acc), changes of direction (CoD), decelerations (Dec), and the sum of the latter 3, HIEs, were extracted from raw-data files using the manufacturer’s software. All Acc, Dec, CoD, and HIEs >2.5 m/s were included. Data were log-transformed and differences were standardized for interpretation of magnitudes and reported with effect-size statistics.

Results:

Mean numbers of events were 0.7 ± 0.4 Acc/min, 2.3 ± 0.9 Dec/min, and 1.0 ± 0.4 CoD/min. Substantial differences between playing positions, ranging from small to very large, were found in the 3 parameters. Backs showed a most likely greater frequency for HIE/min (5.0 ± 1.1 HIE/min) than all other playing positions. Differences between playing positions were also apparent in PlayerLoad/min.

Conclusion:

HIEs in international women’s team handball are position specific, and the overall intensity depends on the positional role within a team. Specific HIE and intensity profiles from match play provide useful information for a better understanding of the overall game demands and for each playing position.

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Jared A. Bailey, Paul B. Gastin, Luke Mackey and Dan B. Dwyer

Context:

Most previous investigations of player load in netball have used subjective methodologies, with few using objective methodologies. While all studies report differences in player activities or total load between playing positions, it is unclear how the differences in player activity explain differences in positional load.

Purpose:

To objectively quantify the load associated with typical activities for all positions in elite netball.

Methods:

The player load of all playing positions in an elite netball team was measured during matches using wearable accelerometers. Video recordings of the matches were also analyzed to record the start time and duration of 13 commonly reported netball activities. The load associated with each activity was determined by time-aligning both data sets (load and activity).

Results:

Off-ball guarding produced the highest player load per instance, while jogging produced the greatest player load per match. Nonlocomotor activities contributed least to total match load for attacking positions (goal shooter [GS], goal attack [GA], and wing attack [WA]) and most for defending positions (goalkeeper [GK], goal defense [GD], and wing defense [WD]). Specifically, centers (Cs) produced the greatest jogging load, WA and WD accumulated the greatest running load, and GS and WA accumulated the greatest shuffling load. WD and Cs accumulated the greatest guarding load, while WD and GK accumulated the greatest off-ball guarding load.

Conclusions:

All positions exhibited different contributions from locomotor and nonlocomotor activities toward total match load. In addition, the same activity can have different contributions toward total match load, depending on the position. This has implications for future design and implementation of position-specific training programs.

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Thomas A. Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Erlend Hem, Svein Leirstein and Stephen Seiler

Purpose:

To quantify VO2max among female competitive soccer players as a function of performance level, field position, and age. In addition, the evolution of VO2max among world-class players over an 18-y period was quantified.

Methods:

Female players (N = 199, 22 ± 4 y, 63 ± 6 kg, height 169 ± 6 cm), including an Olympic winning squad, were tested for VO2max at the Norwegian Olympic Training Center between 1989 and 2007.

Results:

National-team players had 5% higher VO2max than 1st-division players (P = .042, d = 0.4), 13% higher than 2nd-division players (P < .001, d = 1.2), and 9% higher than junior players (P = .005, d = 1.0). Midfielders had 8% higher VO2max than goalkeepers (P = .048, d = 1.1). No significant differences were observed across outfield players or different age categories. There was a trend toward lower relative VO2max across time epochs.

Conclusions:

This study demonstrated that VO2max varies across playing-standard level in women’s soccer. No significant differences in VO2max were observed across outfield positions and age categories. Over time, there has been a slight negative development in VO2max among elite Norwegian soccer players.

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Tim J. Gabbett

Purpose:

A limitation of most rugby league time–motion studies is that researchers have examined the demands of single teams, with no investigations of all teams in an entire competition. This study investigated the activity profiles and technical and tactical performances of successful and less-successful teams throughout an entire rugby league competition.

Methods:

In total, 185 rugby league players representing 11 teams from a semiprofessional competition participated in this study. Global positioning system analysis was completed across the entire season. Video footage from individual matches was also coded via notational analysis for technical and tactical performance of teams.

Results:

Trivial to small differences were found among Top 4, Middle 4, and Bottom 4 teams for absolute and relative total distances covered and distances covered at low speeds. Small, nonsignificant differences (P = .054, ES = 0.31) were found between groups for the distance covered sprinting, with Top 4 teams covering greater sprinting distances than Bottom 4 teams. Top 4 teams made more meters in attack and conceded fewer meters in defense than Bottom 4 teams. Bottom 4 teams had a greater percentage of slow play-the-balls in defense than Top 4 teams (74.8% ± 7.3% vs 67.2% ± 8.3%). Middle 4 teams showed the greatest reduction in high-speed running from the first to the second half (–20.4%), while Bottom 4 teams completed 14.3% more high-speed running in the second half than in the first half.

Conclusion:

These findings demonstrate that a combination of activity profiles and technical and tactical performance are associated with playing success in semiprofessional rugby league players.

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Rich D. Johnston, Tim J. Gabbett, Anthony J. Seibold and David G. Jenkins

Purpose:

Repeated sprinting incorporating tackles leads to greater reductions in sprint performance than repeated sprinting alone. However, the influence of physical contact on the running demands of game-based activities is unknown. The aim of this study was to determine whether the addition of physical contact altered pacing strategies during game-based activities.

Methods:

Twenty-three elite youth rugby league players were divided into 2 groups. Group 1 played the contact game on day 1 while group 2 played the noncontact game; 72 h later they played the alternate game. Each game consisted of offside touch on a 30 × 70-m field, played over two 8-min halves. Rules were identical between games except the contact game included a 10-s wrestle bout every 50 s. Microtechnology devices were used to analyze player movements.

Results:

There were greater average reductions during the contact game for distance (25%, 38 m/min, vs 10%, 20 m/min; effect size [ES] = 1.78 ± 1.02) and low-speed distance (21%, 24 m/min, vs 0%, 2 m/s; ES = 1.38 ± 1.02) compared with the noncontact game. There were similar reductions in high-speed running (41%, 18 m/min, vs 45%, 15 m/min; ES = 0.15 ± 0.95).

Conclusions:

The addition of contact to game-based activities causes players to reduce low-speed activity in an attempt to maintain high-intensity activities. Despite this, players were unable to maintain high-speed running while performing contact efforts. Improving a player’s ability to perform contact efforts while maintaining running performance should be a focus in rugby league training.

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

Purpose:

To determine the influence the number of contact efforts during a single bout has on running intensity during game-based activities and assess relationships between physical qualities and distances covered in each game.

Methods:

Eighteen semiprofessional rugby league players (age 23.6 ± 2.8 y) competed in 3 off-side small-sided games (2 × 10-min halves) with a contact bout performed every 2 min. The rules of each game were identical except for the number of contact efforts performed in each bout. Players performed 1, 2, or 3 × 5-s wrestles in the single-, double-, and triple-contact game, respectively. The movement demands (including distance covered and intensity of exercise) in each game were monitored using global positioning system units. Bench-press and back-squat 1-repetition maximum and the 30−15 Intermittent Fitness Test (30−15IFT) assessed muscle strength and high-intensity-running ability, respectively.

Results:

There was little change in distance covered during the single-contact game (ES = −0.16 to −0.61), whereas there were larger reductions in the double- (ES = −0.52 to −0.81) and triple-contact (ES = −0.50 to −1.15) games. Significant relationships (P < .05) were observed between 30–15IFT and high-speed running during the single- (r = .72) and double- (r = .75), but not triple-contact (r = .20) game.

Conclusions:

There is little change in running intensity when only single contacts are performed each bout; however, when multiple contacts are performed, greater reductions in running intensity result. In addition, high-intensity-running ability is only associated with running performance when contact demands are low.

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

Purpose:

To assess the influence of playing standard and physical fitness on pacing strategies during a junior team-sport tournament.

Methods:

A between-groups, repeated-measures design was used. Twenty-eight junior team-sport players (age 16.6 ± 0.5 y, body mass 79.9 ± 12.0 kg) from a high-standard and low-standard team participated in a junior rugby league tournament, competing in 5 games over 4 d (4 × 40-min and 1 × 50-min game). Players wore global positioning system (GPS) microtechnology during each game to provide information on match activity profiles. The Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (level 1) was used to assess physical fitness before the competition.

Results:

High-standard players had an initially higher pacing strategy than the low-standard players, covering greater distances at high (ES = 1.32) and moderate speed (ES = 1.41) in game 1 and moderate speed (ES = 1.55) in game 2. However, low-standard players increased their playing intensity across the competition (ES = 0.57–2.04). High-standard/high-fitness players maintained a similar playing intensity, whereas high-standard/low-fitness players reduced their playing intensities across the competition.

Conclusions:

Well-developed physical fitness allows for a higher-intensity pacing strategy that can be maintained throughout a tournament. High-standard/low-fitness players reduce playing intensity, most likely due to increased levels of fatigue as the competition progresses. Low-standard players adopt a pacing strategy that allows them to conserve energy to produce an “end spurt” in the latter games. Maximizing endurance fitness across an entire playing group will maximize playing intensity and minimize performance reductions during the latter stages of a tournament.

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Timothy C. Sell, Mita T. Lovalekar, Takashi Nagai, Michael D. Wirt, John P. Abt and Scott M. Lephart

single-leg static and dynamic postural stability of male and female soldiers who currently occupy MOS with similar physical demand ratings. Based on the previous literature, we hypothesized that females would have better static postural stability and that males would have better dynamic postural

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

-d) loads. Together, this information may help practitioners effectively monitor athletes’ training load to reduce the negative consequences on sleep. Methods A longitudinal research design was employed to determine the effect of the physical demands of preseason rugby-league training on subsequent