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Luke W. Hogarth, Brendan J. Burkett and Mark R. McKean

Purpose:

To examine the neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses to consecutive tag football matches played on the same day and determine the relationship between fatigue and match running performance.

Methods:

Neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue responses of 15 national tag football players were assessed before and during the 2014 State of Origin tournament. Global positioning systems (GPS) provided data on players’ match running performance, and a vertical-jump test and subjective questionnaire were used to assess players’ neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue, respectively.

Results:

There were small to moderate reductions in the majority of match-running-performance variables over consecutive matches, including distance (ES = −0.81), high-speed-running (HSR) distance (ES = −0.51), HSR efforts (ES = −0.64), and maximal accelerations (ES = −0.76). Prematch vertical jump was initially below baseline values before the first match (ES = 0.68−0.88). There were no substantial reductions in vertical-jump performance from baseline values over consecutive matches, although there was a small decline from after match 2 to after match 3 (3.3%; ES = −0.45 ± 0.62). There were progressive reductions in perceived well-being scores after matches 1 (ES = −0.38), 2 (ES = −0.70), and 3 (ES = −1.14). There were small to moderate associations between changes in fatigue measures and match running performance.

Conclusions:

Perceptual fatigue accumulates over consecutive tag football matches, although there were only marginal increases in neuromuscular fatigue. However, both neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue measures were found to contribute to reduced match running performance in the final match.

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Ibrahim Akubat, Steve Barrett and Grant Abt

Purpose:

This study aimed to assess the relationships of fitness in soccer players with a novel integration of internal and external training load (TL).

Design:

Ten amateur soccer players performed a lactate threshold (LT) test followed by a soccer simulation (Ball-Sport Endurance and Sprint Test [BEAST90mod]).

Methods:

The results from the LT test were used to determine velocity at lactate threshold (vLT), velocity at onset of blood lactate accumulation (vOBLA), maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), and the heart rate–blood lactate profile for calculation of internal TL (individualized training impulse, or iTRIMP). The total distance (TD) and high intensity distance (HID) covered during the BEAST90mod were measured using GPS technology that allowed measurement of performance and external TL. The internal TL was divided by the external TL to form TD:iTRIMP and HID:iTRIMP ratios. Correlation analyses assessed the relationships between fitness measures and the ratios to performance in the BEAST90mod.

Results:

vLT, vOBLA, and VO2max showed no significant relationship to TD or HID. HID:iTRIMP significantly correlated with vOBLA (r = .65, P = .04; large), and TD:iTRIMP showed a significant correlation with vLT (r = .69, P = .03; large).

Conclusions:

The results suggest that the integrated use of ratios may help in the assessment of fitness, as performance alone showed no significant relationships with fitness.

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James J. Malone, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Darren Burgess, James P. Morton and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players of the English Premier League.

Methods:

Thirty players were sampled (using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) during the daily training sessions of the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across 6 × 1-wk microcycles. In-season data were analyzed across 6 × 6-wk mesocycle blocks and 3 × 1-wk microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed with respect to number of days before a match.

Results:

Typical daily training load (ie, total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate [%HRmax], RPE load) did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th. %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3−5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Furthermore, training load was lower on the day before match (MD-1) than 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) d before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions:

The authors provide the 1st report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players and observed that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1 (regardless of mesocycle), whereas no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are facilitative of optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

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Andrew M. Murray and Matthew C. Varley

Purpose:

To investigate the influence of score line, level of opposition, and timing of substitutes on the activity profile of rugby sevens players and describe peak periods of activity.

Methods:

Velocity and distance data were measured via 10-Hz GPS from 17 international-level male rugby sevens players on 2–20 occasions over 4 tournaments (24 matches). Movement data were reported as total distance (TD), high-speed-running distance (HSR, 4.17−10.0 m/s), and the occurrence of maximal accelerations (Accel, ≥2.78 m/s2). A rolling 1-min sample period was used.

Results:

Regardless of score line or opponent ranking there was a moderate to large reduction in average and peak TD and HSR between match halves. A close halftime score line was associated with a greater HSR distance in the 1st minute of the 1st and 2nd halves compared with when winning. When playing against higher-compared with lower-ranked opposition, players covered moderately greater TD in the 1st minute of the 1st half (difference = 26%; 90% confidence limits = 6, 49). Compared with players who played a full match, substitutes who came on late in the 2nd half had a higher average HSR and Accel by a small magnitude (31%; 5, 65 vs 34%; 6, 69) and a higher average TD by a moderate magnitude (16%; 5, 28).

Conclusions:

Match score line, opposition, and substitute timing can influence the activity profile of rugby sevens players. Players are likely to perform more running against higher opponents and when the score line is close. This information may influence team selection.

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Anthea C. Clarke, Judith M. Anson and David B. Pyne

Purpose:

To examine relationships between on-field game movement patterns and changes in markers of neuromuscular fatigue and muscle damage during a 2-d women’s rugby sevens tournament.

Methods:

Female national (mean ± SD n = 12, 22.3 ± 2.5 y, 1.67 ± 0.04 m, 65.8 ± 4.6 kg) and state (n = 10, 24.4 ± 4.3 y, 1.67 ± 0.03 m, 66.1 ± 7.9 kg) representative players completed baseline testing for lower-body neuromuscular function (countermovement-jump [CMJ] test), muscle damage (capillary creatine kinase [CK]), perceived soreness, and perceived recovery. Testing was repeated after games on days 1 and 2 of the tournament. GPS (5-Hz) data were collected throughout the tournament (4−6 games/player).

Results:

National players were involved in greater on-field movements for total time, distance, high-speed running (>5 m/s), and impacts >10 g (effect size [ES] = 0.55−0.97) and displayed a smaller decrement in performance from day 1 to day 2. Despite this, state players had a much greater 4-fold increase (ΔCK = 737 U/L) in CK compared with the 2-fold increase (ΔCK = 502 U/L) in national players (ES = 0.73). Both groups had similar perceived soreness and recovery while CMJ performance was unchanged. High-speed running and impacts >10 g were largely correlated (r = .66−.91) with ΔCK for both groups.

Conclusion:

A 2-day women’s rugby sevens tournament elicits substantial muscle damage; however, there was little change in lower-body neuromuscular function. Modest increases in CK can largely be attributed to high-speed running and impacts >10 g that players typically endure.

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Nicola Furlan, Mark Waldron, Kathleen Shorter, Tim J. Gabbett, John Mitchell, Edward Fitzgerald, Mark A. Osborne and Adrian J. Gray

Purpose:

To investigate temporal variation in running intensity across and within halves and evaluate the agreement between match-analysis indices used to identify fluctuations in running intensity in rugby sevens.

Methods:

Data from a 15-Hz global positioning system (GPS) were collected from 12 elite rugby sevens players during the IRB World Sevens Series (N = 21 full games). Kinematic (eg, relative distance [RD]) and energetic (eg, metabolic power [MP]) match-analysis indices were determined from velocity–time curves and used to investigate between-halves variations. Mean MP and RD were used to identify peak 2-minute periods of play. Adjacent 2-minute periods (prepeak and postpeak) were compared with peak periods to identify changes in intensity. MP and RD were expressed relative to maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max) and speed at V̇O2max, respectively, and compared in their ability to describe the intensity of peak periods and their temporal occurrence.

Results:

Small to moderate reductions were present for kinematic (RD; 8.9%) and energetic (MP; 6%) indices between halves. Peak periods (RD = 130 m/min, MP =13 W/kg) were higher (P < .001) than the match average (RD = 94 m/min, MP = 9.5 W/kg) and the prepeak and postpeak periods (P < .001). RD underestimated the intensity of peak periods compared with MP (bias 16%, limits of agreement [LoA] ± 6%). Peak periods identified by RD and MP were temporally dissociated (bias 21 s, LoA ± 212 s).

Conclusions:

The findings suggest that running intensity varies between and within halves; however, the index used will influence both the magnitude and the temporal identification of peak periods.

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Anthony Couderc, Claire Thomas, Mathieu Lacome, Julien Piscione, Julien Robineau, Rémi Delfour-Peyrethon, Rachel Borne and Christine Hanon

Purpose:

To investigate the running demands and associated metabolic perturbations during an official rugby sevens tournament.

Methods:

Twelve elite players participated in 7 matches wearing GPS units. Maximal sprinting speed (MSS) and maximal aerobic speed (MAS) were measured. High-intensity threshold was individualized relative to MAS (>100% of MAS), and very-high-intensity distance was reported relative to both MAS and MSS. Blood samples were taken at rest and after each match.

Results:

Comparison of prematch and postmatch samples revealed significant (P < .01) changes in pH (7.41–7.25), bicarbonate concentration ([HCO3]) (24.8–13.6 mmol/L), and lactate concentration ([La]) (2.4–11.9 mmol/L). Mean relative total distance covered was 91 ± 13 m/min with ~17 m/min at high-intensity. Player status (whole-match or interchanged players), match time, and total distance covered had no significant impact on metabolic indices. Relative distance covered at high intensity was negatively correlated with pH and [HCO3] (r = .44 and r = .42, respectively; P < .01) and positively correlated with [La] (r = .36; P < .01). Total distance covered and distance covered at very high intensity during the 1-min peak activity in the last 3 min of play were correlated with [La] (r = .39 and r = .39, respectively; P < .01).

Conclusions:

Significant alterations in blood-metabolite indices from prematch to postmatch sampling suggest that players were required to tolerate a substantial level of acidosis related to metabolite accumulation. In addition, the ability to produce energy via the glycolytic energy pathway seems to be a major determinant in match-related running performance.

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Dave H.H. Van Kann, Sanne I. de Vries, Jasper Schipperijn, Nanne K. de Vries, Maria W.J. Jansen and Stef P.J. Kremers

encouraging PA. The use of global positioning system (GPS) data in addition to accelerometer data has been advocated in health behavior studies in order to enrich data with location-specific information, 31 allowing researchers to more accurately specify the use of physical environments in relation to PA and

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Bruno Marrier, Yann Le Meur, Cédric Leduc, Julien Piscione, Mathieu Lacome, Germain Igarza, Christophe Hausswirth, Jean-Benoît Morin and Julien Robineau

system (GPS), except during 2 tournaments (C2 at In-2 and In-3), where the stadium structure prevented capture of the satellite signals. For these 2 tournaments, the GPS data were extrapolated on the basis of the average variation in each GPS variable observed from the first to the second tournament in

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James J. Malone, Arne Jaspers, Werner Helsen, Brenda Merks, Wouter G.P. Frencken and Michel S. Brink

) and the in-season period (39 wk). The GK trained on average of 5 times per week during preseason and 4.2 times per week during in-season, respectively. The GK wore a global positioning system (GPS) device (firmware version 717, OptimEye G5; Catapult Sports, Melbourne, Australia), which has shown