Relationship Between Preseason Training Load and In-Season Availability in Elite Australian Football Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Objectives:

To investigate the relationship between the proportion of preseason training sessions completed and load and injury during the ensuing Australian Football League season.

Design:

Single-cohort, observational study.

Methods:

Forty-six elite male Australian football players from 1 club participated. Players were divided into 3 equal groups based on the amount of preseason training completed (high [HTL], >85% sessions completed; medium [MTL], 50–85% sessions completed; and low [LTL], <50% sessions completed). Global positioning system (GPS) technology was used to record training and game loads, with all injuries recorded and classified by club medical staff. Differences between groups were analyzed using a 2-way (group × training/competition phase) repeated-measures ANOVA, along with magnitude-based inferences. Injury incidence was expressed as injuries per 1000 h.

Results:

The HTL and MTL groups completed a greater proportion of in-season training sessions (81.1% and 74.2%) and matches (76.7% and 76.1%) than the LTL (56.9% and 52.7%) group. Total distance and player load were significantly greater during the first half of the in-season period for the HTL (P = .03, ES = 0.88) and MTL (P = .02, ES = 0.93) groups than the LTL group. The relative risk of injury for the LTL group (26.8/1000 h) was 1.9 times greater than that for the HTL group (14.2/1000 h) (χ2 = 3.48, df = 2, P = .17).

Conclusions:

Completing a greater proportion of preseason training resulted in higher training loads and greater participation in training and competition during the competitive phase of the season.

Murray and Townshend are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Gabbett is with Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

Murray (nicholas.murray@myacu.edu.au) is corresponding author.