Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
Computing, Health and Science
Professor John Cronin
Dr Michael Newton
With improving professionalism of sports around the world, the volume and frequency of training required for competitive performances at the elite level has increased concurrently. With this amplification in training load comes an increased need to closely monitor the associated fatigue responses, since maximising the adaptive response to training is also reliant on avoiding the negative consequences of excessive fatigue. The rationale for the experimental chapters in this thesis was established after considering survey responses regarding current best practice for monitoring fatigue in high performance sporting environments (Chapter 3). On the basis of the results, vertical jump assessments were selected for further investigation regarding their utility in determining neuromuscular fatigue responses. Outcomes from the subsequent series of studies aimed to provide practitioners working in high performance sport with guidelines for using vertical jumps to monitor athletic fatigue.
The results from Chapter 4 indicate using the mean value of at least six jumps enhances the ability to detect small but practically important changes in performance from week to week. This study also highlighted large differences (4-6%) in morning and afternoon performance, indicating that the time of day performance is assessed needs to be accounted for when monitoring changes in jump performance. Chapter 5 explored the theory that the time of day effect observed in Chapter 4 can be explained by internal temperature differences. This theory was supported by demonstrating that an extended warm-up period can negate differences in jump performance in the morning and the afternoon. Researchers who are unable to standardise the time of day that assessment occurs are able, therefore, to control for performance differences by manipulating the warm-up protocols.
The third study examined changes in vertical jump performance over a three month training period and produced several novel outcomes. A major finding was that unloaded jumps were more sensitive to neuromuscular fatigue during intensive training than loaded jumps (Chapter 6). Furthermore, this set of results showed that all subjects changed their jump technique via a reduction in the amplitude of the countermovement when they were highly fatigued. Using the same data, an analysis was performed to quantify individual differences in within-subject variation (Chapter 7) during normal and intensive training. These results provided the first indication that within-subject variability in vertical jump performance is substantially different between individuals and between different training phases, an important consideration for interpreting the practical importance of performance changes.
In Chapter 8 the relationship between vertical jump performance and electrically elicited force of the knee extensors was examined to better understand the mechanism(s) of changes in jump performance associated with neuromuscular fatigue during intensive overload training. The results showed that the fatigue assessed by vertical jump performance was likely not only peripheral in origin as previously suggested by other authors. Further research is required to further understand the mechanisms of reduced performance during overload training, although the preliminary evidence presented implicates central mechanisms. To conclude the thesis, the findings presented in the experimental chapters are summarised, with a series of practical recommendations for using vertical jumps to monitor athletic fatigue presented.
Taylor, K. (2012). Monitoring neuromuscular fatigue in high performance athletes. Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/581