The use of a radio frequency tracking system to quantify the external demands of elite wheelchair rugby
thesisposted on 2015-11-25, 11:14 authored by James M. Rhodes
Within team sports, coaches aim to improve physical preparation by optimising the training process specific to competition. Unfortunately, at the elite level of wheelchair rugby (WCR) evidence-based information to guide this process is currently lacking. The present thesis investigates measures of external load during elite competition and explores whether this can be translated to inform current training practices. The first study established the suitability of a radio frequency-based, indoor tracking system (ITS) for the collection of movements specific to WCR. Minimal relative distance errors (< 0.2%) were seen across different sampling frequencies. Peak speed displayed the greatest relative error in 4 Hz tags (2%), with significantly lower errors observed in higher frequency tags (< 1%). The ITS was therefore deemed an acceptable tool for quantifying external load specific to WCR using a sampling frequency of 8 or 16 Hz. The external demands of elite competition were determined in Chapters 4 and 5. Notable differences in the volume of activity were displayed across the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) classification groups. However, the specific positional requirements of low-point (LP) and high-point players (HP) appeared to influence the intensity of external load (Chapter 4). Chapter 5 extended this work and established that peak speed and the ability to perform at high-intensities were best associated with successful mobility performance in WCR, as defined by team rank. This was further shown to be roledependent, whereby high-ranked HP players achieved greater peak speeds and performed more high-intensity activities (HIA) than respective lower-ranked players. Comparisons between the current external demands of training were then compared to that of competition (Chapter 6). Conditioning drills were shown to exceed the demands of competition, irrespective of classification. Notable differences in skill-based and game related drills were displayed across player classifications, whereby both were shown to be roledependent. Although game-simulation drills provided the best representation of competition, the duration appeared important since this factor influenced the results (Chapter 6). When the format of these drills were further modified (Chapter 7), drills containing fewer players increased the volume and intensity of training, specifically in HP. Whilst a 30-second shotclock elicited no changes in external load, differences were revealed when the shot-clock was further reduced to 15-s. Coaches can therefore modify the external training response by making subtle changes to the format of game-simulation drills. This thesis revealed that functional classification and positional-role are key factors during competition, and training should therefore be structured with this in mind. Conditioning drills can be used to elicit a progressive overload in the external responses, whilst game-simulation drills can provide the best representation of competition. Given the importance of gamesimulation drills, the combination of different formats throughout training sessions are critical in order to maximise the preparation of elite WCR players.
- Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences