MONITORING NEUROMUSCULAR AND PERCEPTUAL FATIGUE IN COLLEGE RUGBY UNION PLAYERS
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Aim. The purpose of this study was to investigate the changes in neuromuscular and perceptual fatigue in college Rugby Union players prior to and a day after typical Rugby Union matches over a seven week training and competition macrocycle. The rationale of this study was to determine if college Rugby Union players are fully recovered (compared to baseline) in the day immediately preceding a match and to determine the level of that fatigue experienced in the day after competition. A secondary goal was to determine if fatigue accumulated over the seven week training and competition block. Method. Eleven male college Rugby Union players (age: 16.9 ± 0.8 y, body mass: 86.8 ± 10.5 kg, height: 176.3 ± 4.6 cm) completed countermovement jump (CMJ), five consecutive rebound jumps (RSI) and stiff two-legged hopping (Leg stiffness) during a week break from competition and training so that players were fully rested, this represented baseline testing. These jump values were then compared with CMJ, RSI and leg stiffness one day pre-match and one day post-match over a seven week macrocycle of training and competition. Over the seven week period the jumps were tested during week one, week four and week seven to identify any trends in fatigue and recovery. The subjects also completed a subjective questionnaire to assess overall wellbeing during the same time frame, as well as a diary of any extra training or competition they were completing outside of the college. Results. All neuromuscular measures (CMJ, RSI and leg stiffness) were all able to demonstrate significant reductions in performance from pre- to post-match (p < 0.05). CMJ and leg stiffness also demonstrated significant reductions compared to baseline before games in week four and week seven (p < 0.05). The subjective iii measure (well-being questionnaire) showed a significant decrease in performance from pre- to post-match (p < 0.05). In addition the well-being questionnaire showed that week seven pre-match was significantly below pre-match week four, indicating that accumulated fatigue was present. Conclusion. CMJ, RSI and leg stiffness are valuable tools for coaches to use to monitor post-match and accumulated fatigue. CMJ was most sensitive in detecting pre- to post-match fatigue and accumulated fatigue. From a practical perspective, even if a coach does not have access to equipment to monitor jump performance then he/she can use a simple and cost-effective well-being questionnaire that will provide some sensitivity.
- Masters Degrees (Sport) 
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