Neuromuscular and Endocrine Responses of Elite Players During an Australian Rules Football Season
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
Purpose: To examine variations in neuromuscular and hormonal status and their relationship to performance throughout a season of elite Australian Rules Football (ARF). Methods: Fifteen elite ARF players performed a single jump (CMJ1) and 5 repeated countermovement jumps (CMJ5), and provided saliva samples for the analysis of cortisol (C) and testosterone (T) before the season commenced (Pre) and during the 22-match season. Magnitudes of effects were reported with the effect size (ES) statistic. Correlations were performed to analyze relationships between assessment variables and match time, training load, and performance. Results: CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time was substantially reduced on 60% of measurement occasions. Magnitudes of change compared with Pre ranged from 1.0 ± 7.4% (ES 0.04 ± 0.29) to -17.1 ± 21.8% (ES -0.77 ± 0.81). Cortisol was substantially lower (up to -40 ± 14.1%, ES of -2.17 ± 0.56) than Pre in all but one comparison. Testosterone response was varied, whereas T:C increased substantially on 70% of occasions, with increases to 92.7 ± 27.8% (ES 2.03 ± 0.76). CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time (r = .24 ± 0.13) and C displayed (r = -0.16 ± 0.1) small correlations with performance. Conclusion: The response of CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time suggests periods of neuromuscular fatigue. Change in T:C indicates subjects were unlikely to have been in a catabolic state during the season. Increase in C compared with Pre had a small negative correlation with performance. Both CMJ1Flight time:Contraction time and C may be useful variables for monitoring responses to training and competition in elite ARF athletes.