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Cédric Leduc, Jason Tee, Mathieu Lacome, Jonathon Weakley, Jeremy Cheradame, Carlos Ramirez and Ben Jones

Purpose: To investigate the convergent validity, reliability, and sensitivity over a week of training of a standardized running test to measure neuromuscular fatigue. Methods: Twenty male rugby union players were recruited for the study, which took place during preseason. The standardized running test consisted of four 60-m runs paced at  ~5 m·s−1 with 33 seconds of recovery between trials. Data from micromechanical electrical systems were used to calculate a running-load index (RLI), which was a ratio between the mechanical load and the speed performed during runs. RLI was calculated by using either the entire duration of the run or a constant-velocity period. For each type of calculation, either an individual directional or the sum of the 3 components of the accelerometer was used. A measure of leg stiffness was used to assess the convergent validity of the RLI. Results: Unclear to large relationships between leg stiffness and RLI were found (r ranged from −.20 to .62). Regarding reliability, small to moderate (.47–.86) standardized typical errors were found. The sensitivity analysis showed that the leg stiffness presented a very likely trivial change over the course of 1 week of training, whereas RLI showed very likely small to a most likely large change. Conclusions: This study showed that RLI is a practical method to measure neuromuscular fatigue. In addition, such a methodology aligns with the constraint of elite team-sport setup due to its ease of implementation in practice.

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Martin Buchheit, Mathieu Lacome, Yannick Cholley and Ben Michael Simpson

Purpose: To examine the reliability of field-based running-specific measures of neuromuscular function assessed using global positioning system (GPS)–embedded accelerometers and their responses to 3 typical conditioned sessions (ie, strength, endurance, and speed) in elite soccer players. Methods: Before and immediately after each session, vertical jump (countermovement jump [CMJ]) and adductor squeeze strength (groin) performances were recorded. Players also performed a 4-min run at 12 km/h followed by four ∼60-m runs (run = 12 s, r = 33 s). GPS (5 Hz) and accelerometer (100 Hz) data collected during the 4 runs and the recovery periods, excluding the last recovery period, were used to derive vertical stiffness (K), peak loading force (peak force over all the foot strikes [F peak]), and propulsion efficiency (ie, the ratio between velocity and force loads [Vl/Fl]). Results: Typical errors were small (CMJ, groin, K, and Vl/Fl) and moderate (F peak), with moderate (F peak), high (K and Vl/Fl), and very high ICCs (CMJ and groin). After all sessions, there were small decreases in groin and increases in K, but changes in F were all unclear. By contrast, the CMJ and Vl/Fl ratio responses were session dependent. There was a small increase in CMJ after speed and endurance, but unclear changes after strength; the Vl/Fl ratio increased substantially after strength, but there were a small and a moderate decrease after endurance and speed, respectively. Conclusions: Running-specific measures of neuromuscular function assessed in the field via GPS-embedded accelerometers show acceptable levels of reliability. Although the 3 sessions examined may be associated with limited neuromuscular fatigue, changes in neuromuscular performance and propulsion efficiency are likely session-objective dependent.