To investigate the influence of prior knowledge of exercise duration on the pacing strategies employed during gamebased activities.
Twelve semiprofessional team-sport athletes (mean ± SD age 22.8 ± 2.1 y) participated in this study. Players performed 3 small-sided games in random order. In one condition (Control), players were informed that they would play the small-sided game for 12 min and then completed the 12-min game. In a 2nd condition (Deception), players were told that they would play the small-sided game for 6 minutes, but after completing the 6-min game, they were asked to complete another 6 min. In a 3rd condition (Unknown), players were not told how long they would be required to play the small-sided game, but the activity was terminated after 12 min. Movement was recorded using a GPS unit sampling at 10 Hz. Post hoc inspection of video footage was undertaken to count the number of possessions and the number and quality of disposals.
Higher initial intensities were observed in the Deception (130.6 ± 3.3 m/min) and Unknown (129.3 ± 2.4 m/min) conditions than the Control condition (123.3 ± 3.4 m/min). Greater amounts of high-speed running occurred during the initial phases of the Deception condition, and more low-speed activity occurred during the Unknown condition. A moderately greater number of total skill involvements occurred in the Unknown condition than the Control condition.
These findings suggest that during game-based activities, players alter their pacing strategy based on the anticipated endpoint of the exercise bout.
Gabbett is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Australia. Walker and Walker are with Ipswich Jets Rugby League Football Club, Ipswich, Australia. Address author correspondence to Tim Gabbett at firstname.lastname@example.org.