Effects of Optimising the Fluid Balance of Collegiate Rugby League Players on Performance
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Whilst the popularity of team sports has grown worldwide, the investigation into the specific hydration needs of athletes competing in team games has been relatively ignored- Often fluid intake strategies designed for continuous disciplines such as running or cycling are incorrectly applied to team sport players. With very little also known regarding the regulatory and body fluid responses to the intermittent exercise characterised by team sports, the dangers of performance decrements resulting from dehydration are especially evident. The main purpose of the study was to observe the hydration habits of a group of collegiates rugby league players during the warm up and for forty minutes of a competitive fixture. Sweat loss was estimated through identifying body mass changes, This allowed the extent of dehydration occurring to be assessed. Fluid intake values were also recorded- Seven subjects then participated in a two stage testing phase. Each subject completed two, forty minute long rugby league specific intermittent treadmill sprint tests under two different hydration conditions. One test was done under identical fluid intake strategies as shown by the subjects in the observation game. Analysis of mean values from the testing phase identified improvement in all performance variables in a second test where optimal hydration was used. The study revealed that optimising fluid balance has positive effects on physiological function and ultimately performance. It was noted however that consideration of an individual's sweat response and fluid preferences, and research into their work rate in games and response to varying environmental conditions should form the basis of optimising fluid balance.
BSc (Hons) Sport, P.E. and Recreation
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