Quantifying External Load in Australian Football Matches and Training Using Accelerometers

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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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.

The authors are with the School of Sport and Exercise Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia.