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Dean G. Higham, David B. Pyne, Judith M. Anson and Anthony Eddy

Although the characteristics of 15-a-side rugby union players have been well defined, there is little information on rugby sevens players.

Purpose:

The authors profiled the anthropometric, physiological, and performance qualities of elite-level rugby sevens players and quantified relationships between these characteristics.

Methods:

Eighteen male international rugby sevens players undertook anthropometric (body mass, height, sum of 7 skinfolds, lean-mass index), acceleration and speed (40-m sprint), muscle-power (vertical jump), repeatedsprint- ability (6 × 30-m sprint), and endurance (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery test and treadmill VO2max) testing. Associations between measurements were assessed by correlation analysis.

Results:

Rugby sevens players had anthropometric characteristics (body mass 89.7 ± 7.6 kg, height 1.83 ± 0.06 m, sum of 7 skinfolds 52.2 ± 11.5 mm; mean ± SD) similar to those of backs in international 15-player rugby union. Acceleration and speed (40-m sprint 5.11 ± 0.15 s), muscle-power (vertical jump 66 ± 7 cm), and endurance (VO2max 53.8 ± 3.4 mL · kg−1 · min−1 ) qualities were similar to, or better than, those of professional 15-a-side players. Coefficients of variation ranged from 2.5% to 22%. Relative VO2max was largely correlated with Yo-Yo distance (r = .60, .21−.82; 90% confidence interval) and moderately correlated with 40-m sprint time (r = −.46, −.75 to −.02) and repeated-sprint ability (r = −.38, −.72 to .09).

Conclusions:

International rugby sevens players require highly developed speed, power, and endurance to tolerate the demands of competition. The small between-athletes variability of characteristics in rugby sevens players highlights the need for relatively uniform physical and performance standards in contrast with 15-a-side players.

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Jason D. Vescovi, Teena M. Murray and Jaci L. VanHeest

Purpose:

The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether positional profiling is possible for elite ice hockey players by examining anthropometric characteristics and physiological performance. In addition, performance ranges and percentiles were determined for each position (forwards, defensemen, and goalkeepers) on all dependent variables.

Methods:

A retrospective, cross-sectional study design was used with performance data from ice hockey players (mean age = 18.0 ± 0.6 years) attending the 2001 (n = 74), 2002 (n = 84), and 2003 (n = 92) Combines. Four anthropometric characteristics and 12 performance tests were the dependent variables. A 3 × 3 (position × year) 2-way ANOVA was used to determine whether any significant interactions were present. No significant interactions were observed, so the data were collapsed over the 3-year period and positional characteristics were analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA.

Results:

Defenders were heavier and/or taller compared with the other 2 positions (P ≤ .01), whereas goalkeepers showed greater body-fat percentage compared with that of forwards (P = .001). It was found that goalkeepers had significantly lower strength measures for the upper body (P ≤ .043) and lower anaerobic capacity (P ≤ .039) values compared with at least one other position, but they had greater flexibility (P ≤ .013). No positional differences were observed for the broad jump, vertical jump, aerobic power, or curl-ups.

Conclusion:

The current findings provide evidence supporting the use of anthropometric measurements, upper body strength, and anaerobic capacity to effectively distinguish among positions for elite-level ice hockey players.

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Jeremy Williams, Grant Abt and Andrew E. Kilding

Purpose:

To determine the effects of acute short-term creatine (Cr) supplementation on physical performance during a 90-min soccer-specific performance test.

Methods:

A double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design was adopted during which 16 male amateur soccer players were required to consume 20 g/d Cr for 7 d or a placebo. A Ball-Sport Endurance and Speed Test (BEAST) comprising measures of aerobic (circuit time), speed (12- and 20-m sprint), and explosive-power (vertical jump) abilities performed over 90 min was performed presupplementation and postsupplementation.

Results:

Performance measures during the BEAST deteriorated during the second half relative to the first for both Cr (1.2–2.3%) and placebo (1.0–2.2%) groups, indicating a fatigue effect associated with the BEAST. However, no significant differences existed between groups, suggesting that Cr had no performance-enhancing effect or ability to offset fatigue. When effect sizes were considered, some measures (12-m sprint, –0.53 ± 0.69; 20-m sprint, –0.39 ± 0.59) showed a negative tendency, indicating chances of harm were greater than chances of benefit.

Conclusions:

Acute short-term Cr supplementation has no beneficial effect on physical measures obtained during a 90-min soccer-simulation test, thus bringing into question its potential as an effective ergogenic aid for soccer players.

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Michael H. Stone, Kimberly Sanborn, Lucille L. Smith, Harold S. O'Bryant, Tommy Hoke, Alan C. Utter, Robert L. Johnson, Rhonda Boros, Joseph Hruby, Kyle C. Pierce, Margaret E. Stone and Brindley Garner

The purpose of this investigation was to study the efficacy of two dietary supplements on measures of body mass, body composition, and performance in 42 American football players. Group CM (n = 9) received creatine monohy-drate, Group P (n = 11) received calcium pyruvate. Group COM (n = 11) received a combination of calcium pyruvate (60%) and creatine (40%), and Group PL received a placebo. Tests were performed before (Tl) and after (T2) the 5-week supplementation period, during which the subjects continued their normal training schedules. Compared to P and PL. CM and COM showed significantly greater increases for body mass, lean body mass, 1 repetition maximum (RM) bench press, combined 1 RM squat and bench press, and static vertical jump (SVJ) power output. Peak rate of force development for SVJ was significantly greater for CM compared to P and PL. Creatine and the combination supplement enhanced training adaptations associated with body mass/composition, maximum strength, and SVJ; however, pyruvate supplementation alone was ineffective.

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Nuttaset Manimmanakorn, Jenny J. Ross, Apiwan Manimmanakorn, Samuel J.E. Lucas and Michael J. Hamlin

Purpose:

To compare whole-body vibration (WBV) with traditional recovery protocols after a high-intensity training bout.

Methods:

In a randomized crossover study, 16 athletes performed 6 × 30-s Wingate sprints before completing either an active recovery (10 min of cycling and stretching) or WBV for 10 min in a series of exercises on a vibration platform. Muscle hemodynamics (assessed via near-infrared spectroscopy) were measured before and during exercise and into the 10-min recovery period. Blood lactate concentration, vertical jump, quadriceps strength, flexibility, rating of perceived exertion (RPE), muscle soreness, and performance during a single 30-s Wingate test were assessed at baseline and 30 and 60 min postexercise. A subset of participants (n = 6) completed a 3rd identical trial (1 wk later) using a passive 10-min recovery period (sitting).

Results:

There were no clear effects between the recovery protocols for blood lactate concentration, quadriceps strength, jump height, flexibility, RPE, muscle soreness, or single Wingate performance across all measured recovery time points. However, the WBV recovery protocol substantially increased the tissue-oxygenation index compared with the active (11.2% ± 2.4% [mean ± 95% CI], effect size [ES] = 3.1, and –7.3% ± 4.1%, ES = –2.1 for the 10 min postexercise and postrecovery, respectively) and passive recovery conditions (4.1% ± 2.2%, ES = 1.3, 10 min postexercise only).

Conclusion:

Although WBV during recovery increased muscle oxygenation, it had little effect in improving subsequent performance compared with a normal active recovery.

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Andrew C. Fry, William J. Kraemer, Michael H. Stone, Beverly J. Warren, Jay T. Kearney, Carl M. Maresh, Cheryl A. Weseman and Steven J. Fleck

To examine the effects of 1 week of high volume weightlifting and amino acid supplementation, 28 elite junior male weightlifting received either amino acid (protein) or lactose (placebo) capsules using double-blind procedures. weightlifting test sessions were performed before and after 7 days of high volume training sessions. Serum concentrations of testosterone (Tes), cortisol (Cort), and growth hormone (GH) as well as whole blood iactate (HLa) were determined from blood draws. Lifting performance was not altered for either group after training, although vertical jump performance decreased for both groups. Both tests elicited significantly elevated exercise-induced hormonal and HLa concentrations. Significant decreases in postexercise hormonal and HLa concentrations from Test 1 to Test 2 were observed for both groups. Tes concentrations at 7 a.m. and preexercise decreased for both groups from Test 1 to Test 2, while the placebo group exhibited a decreased 7 a.m. Tes/ Cort. These data suggest that amino acid supplementation does not influence resting or exercise-induced hormonal responses to 1 week of high volume weight training, but endocrine responses did suggest an impending overtraining syndrome.

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Gal Ziv and Ronnie Lidor

The soccer goalkeeper (GK) is required to perform strenuous actions during practice sessions and actual games. One of the objectives of those professionals who work with GKs is to obtain relevant information on physical characteristics and physiological attributes of GKs, and to use it effectively when planning training programs for them. This article has three purposes: (a) to review a series of studies (n = 23) on physical characteristics, physiological attributes, and on-field performances of soccer GKs; (b) to outline a number of methodological limitations and research concerns associated with these studies; and (c) to suggest several practical recommendations for soccer coaches who work with GKs. Four main fndings emerged from our review: (a) professional adult GKs usually are over 180 cm tall and have a body mass of over 77 kg; (b) studies on agility and speed produced mixed results, with some showing similar values between GKs and field players and others showing reduced performance in GKs; (c) GKs usually have higher vertical jump values when compared with players playing the various field positions; (d) GKs cover approximately 5.5 km during a game, mostly by walking and jogging. Four methodological limitations and research concerns associated with the reviewed studies were discussed, among them the lack of a longitudinal approach and the lack of on-field performance studies. Three practical recommendations are made for coaches, one of which is that coaches should adopt a careful approach when selecting testing protocols and devices for the assessment of GKs’ physiological attributes.

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Bruno Marrier, Yann Le Meur, Julien Robineau, Mathieu Lacome, Anthony Couderc, Christophe Hausswirth, Julien Piscione and Jean-Benoît Morin

Purpose:

To compare the sensitivity of a sprint vs a countermovement-jump (CMJ) test after an intense training session in international rugby sevens players, as well as analyze the effects of fatigue on sprint acceleration.

Methods:

Thirteen international rugby sevens players completed two 30-m sprints and a set of 4 repetitions of CMJ before and after a highly demanding rugby sevens training session.

Results:

Change in CMJ height was unclear (–3.6%; ±90% confidence limits 11.9%. Chances of a true positive/trivial/negative change: 24/10/66%), while a very likely small increase in 30-m sprint time was observed (1.0%; ±0.7%, 96/3/1%). A very likely small decrease in the maximum horizontal theoretical velocity (V0) (–2.4; ±1.8%, 1/4/95%) was observed. A very large correlation (r = –.79 ± .23) between the variations of V0 and 30-m-sprint performance was also observed. Changes in 30-m sprint time were negatively and very largely correlated with the distance covered above the maximal aerobic speed (r = –.71 ± .32).

Conclusions:

The CMJ test appears to be less sensitive than the sprint test, which casts doubts on the usefulness of a vertical-jump test in sports such as rugby that mainly involve horizontal motions. The decline in sprint performance relates more to a decrease in velocity than in force capability and is correlated with the distance covered at high intensity.

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Geoff Minett, Rob Duffield and Stephen P. Bird

Purpose:

To investigate the effects of an acute multinutrient supplement on game-based running performance, peak power output, anaerobic by-products, hormonal profiles, markers of muscle damage, and perceived muscular soreness before, immediately after, and 24 h following competitive rugby union games.

Methods:

Twelve male rugby union players ingested either a comprehensive multinutrient supplement (SUPP), [RE-ACTIVATE:01], or a placebo (PL) for 5 d. Participants then performed a competitive rugby union game (with global positioning system tracking), with associated blood draws and vertical jump assessments pre, immediately post and 24 h following competition.

Results:

SUPP ingestion resulted in moderate to large effects for augmented 1st half very high intensity running (VHIR) mean speed (5.9 ± 0.4 vs 4.8 ± 2.3 m·min−1; d = 0.93). Further, moderate increases in 2nd half VHIR distance (137 ± 119 vs 83 ± 89 m; d = 0.73) and VHIR mean speed (5.9 ± 0.6 v 5.3 ± 1.7 m·min−1; d = 0.56) in SUPP condition were also apparent. Postgame aspartate aminotransferase (AST; 44.1 ± 11.8 vs 37.0 ± 3.2 UL; d = 1.16) and creatine kinase (CK; 882 ± 472 vs. 645 ± 123 UL; d = 0.97) measures demonstrated increased values in the SUPP condition, while AST and CK values correlated with 2nd half VHIR distance (r = −0.71 and r = −0.76 respectively). Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) was observed postgame in both conditions; however, it was significantly blunted with SUPP (P = .05).

Conclusions:

These findings suggest SUPP may assist in the maintenance of VHIR during rugby union games, possibly via the buffering qualities of SUPP ingredients. However, correlations between increased work completed at very high intensities and muscular degradation in SUPP conditions, may mask any anticatabolic properties of the supplement.

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Paul B. Gastin, Denny Meyer, Emy Huntsman and Jill Cook

Purpose:

To assess the relationships between player characteristics (including age, playing experience, ethnicity, and physical fitness) and in-season injury in elite Australian football.

Design:

Single-cohort, prospective, longitudinal study.

Methods:

Player characteristics (height, body mass, age, experience, ethnicity, playing position), preseason fitness (6-min run, 40-m sprint, 6 × 40-m sprint, vertical jump), and in-season injury data were collected over 4 seasons from 1 professional Australian football club. Data were analyzed for 69 players, for a total of 3879 player rounds and 174 seasons. Injury risk (odds ratio [OR]) and injury severity (matches missed; rate ratio [RR]) were assessed using a series of multilevel univariate and multivariate hierarchical linear models.

Results:

A total of 177 injuries were recorded with 494 matches missed (2.8 ± 3.3 matches/injury). The majority (87%) of injuries affected the lower body, with hamstring (20%) and groin/hip (14%) most prevalent. Nineteen players (28%) suffered recurrent injuries. Injury incidence was increased in players with low body mass (OR = 0.887, P = .005), with poor 6-min-run performance (OR = 0.994, P = .051), and playing as forwards (OR = 2.216, P = .036). Injury severity was increased in players with low body mass (RR = 0.892, P = .008), tall stature (RR = 1.131, P = .002), poor 6-min-run (RR = 0.990, P = .006), and slow 40-m-sprint (RR = 3.963, P = .082) performance.

Conclusions:

The potential to modify intrinsic risk factors is greatest in the preseason period, and improvements in aerobic-running fitness and increased body mass may protect against in-season injury in elite Australian football.