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Abstract

Purpose: Peaking for major competition is considered critical for maximizing team sports performance. However, there is little scientific information available to guide coaches in prescribing efficient tapering strategies for team sports players. The aim of this study was to monitor the changes in physical performance in elite team sports players during a 3-week taper following a pre-season training camp. Methods: Ten male international rugby sevens players were tested before (Pre) and after (Post) a 4-week pre-season training camp focusing on high-intensity training and strength training with moderate loads, and once each week during a subsequent 3-week taper (T1, T2, T3). During each testing session, mid-thigh pull maximal strength, sprint acceleration mechanical outputs and performance as well as repeated sprint ability (RSA) were assessed. Results: At Post, no single peak performance was observed for maximal lower limb force output and sprint performance, while RSA peaked for only one athlete. During the taper, 30-m sprint time decreased almost certainly (-3.1 ±0.9%, large), while maximal lower limb strength and RSA respectively improved very likely (+7.7 ±5.3%, small) and almost certainly (+9.0 ±2.6%, moderate). Of the peak performances, 70%, 80%, and 80% occurred within the first two weeks of taper for RSA, maximal force output and sprint performance, respectively. Conclusions: These results show the sensitivity of physical qualities to tapering in rugby sevens players and suggest that a ~1-2 week tapering timeframe appears optimal to maximize the overall physical performance response.
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
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Supercompensation!Kinetics!of!physical!qualities!
during!a!Taper!in!Team!Sport!Athletes!
!
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Bruno!MARRIER1,&2*,&Julien!ROBINEAU2,&Julien!PISCIONE2,&Mathieu!LACOME2,&Alexis!
PEETERS2,&Christophe!HAUSSWIRTH1,&Jean-Benoît!MORIN3,&Yann!LE!MEUR1,3,4&
&
1&Laboratory&of&Sport,&Expertise&and&Performance&(INSEP),&EA&7370,&National&Institute&of&Sport,&Expertise&
and&Performance,&Paris,&France&&
2Research&Department,&French&Rugby&Federation&(FFR),&Marcoussis,&France&
3Université&Côte&d'Azur,&LAMHESS,&Nice,&France&
4AS&Monaco&Football&Club,&Monaco&
&
*Corresponding!author:!!
Bruno&MARRIER&
French&Rugby&Federation!(FFR)&Research&Department&
3-5&rue&Jean&de&Montaigu&
91463&MARCOUSSIS&Cedex,&fRANCE&
Email:&brunomarrier@yahoo.fr&
Tel:&+33&1&69&63&64&65&
!
!
Abstract!
Purpose:& Peaking& for& major& competition& is& considered& critical& for& maximizing& team&
sports& performance.& However,& there& is& little& scientific& information& available& to& guide&
coaches&in&prescribing&efficient& tapering& strategies&for&team& sports& players.& The&aim&of&
this& study& was& to& monitor& the& changes& in& physical& performance& in& elite& team& sports&
players& during& a& 3-week& taper& following& a& pre-season& training& camp.& Methods:! Ten&
male&international&rugby&sevens&players&were& tested& before& (Pre)&and&after&(Post)&a&4-
week& pre-season& training& camp& focusing& on& high-intensity& training& and& strength&
training& with& moderate& loads,& and& once& each& week& during& a& subsequent& 3-week& taper&
(T1,& T2,& T3).& During& each& testing& session,& mid-thigh& pull& maximal& strength,& sprint&
acceleration& mechanical& outputs& and& performance& as& well& as&repeated& sprint& ability&
(RSA)& were& assessed.& Results:!At& Post,!no& single& peak& performance& was& observed& for&
maximal& lower& limb& force& output& and& sprint& performance,& while& RSA& peaked& for& only&
one&athlete.&During& the& taper,&30-m&sprint&time&decreased&almost!certainly&(-3.1&±0.9%,&
large),& while& maximal& lower& limb& strength& and& RSA& respectively& improved& very!likely&
(+7.7& ±5.3%,& small)& and&almost! certainly! (+9.0& ±2.6%,& moderate).& Of& the& peak&
performances,&70%,&80%,&and&80%&occurred&within&the&first&two&weeks&of&taper&for&RSA,&
maximal&force&output&and&sprint&performance,&respectively.&Conclusions:!These&results&
show& the& sensitivity& of& physical& qualities& to& tapering& in& rugby& sevens&players& and&
suggest&that&a& 1-2& week& tapering&timeframe& appears& optimal&to&maximize& the& overall&
physical&performance&response.&&
Key!words:!Rugby&sevens,&pre-season,&training&load,&peak&performance,&detraining&
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
!
Introduction!
Team& sports& involve& a& combination& of& physical,& physiological,& psychological,& technical& and&
tactical&factors&that&contribute&to&competitive&performance.&Given&that&most&team&sports&require&
well-developed& speed,& acceleration,& power,& endurance,& and& agility,& it& is& likely& that& effective&
training&load& management&through& training&camps&and& taper& periods&would&improve& many& or&
all&of& these& athletic& attributes&1.& The& taper& has& been& defined& as& “a& progressive,& nonlinear&
reduction& of& the& training& load& during& a& variable& amount& of& time& that& is& intended& to& reduce&
physiological&and&psychological&stress&of&daily&training&and&optimize&sport&performance”&2.&The&
training& taper& can& be& considered& at& different& times:& at& the& end& of& the& pre-season&period&to&
prepare&for&the&start&of&the&competition&or&during&the&competitive&season&to&prepare&for&special&
events&such&as&a&major&match,&a&series&of&important&matches&or&an&international&tournament&3.&
&
Since&the& early&1990s,&tapering&has&been&the&focus&of&many&training&studies&3-9.& A& 2-week&taper&
(training&volume&exponentially&reduced&by&41-60%&with&no&change&in&intensity/frequency)&was&
shown& to& be& the& most& efficient& strategy& to& maximize& performance& gains&4.& However,& most&
research&has&been&conducted&in&individual&and& endurance& sports& (running,&swimming,&cycling,&
rowing& and&triathlon)& 5-8.& In& contrast,& very& little& information& is& available& in& team& sports&9,&
certainly&because&of&their&multifaceted&nature&in&relation&to&physiological&demands,&training&and&
performance&3.&
&
Research& investigating& tapering& in& team& sports& has& shown& a& supercompensation& of& physical&
qualities&in& most& cases.& After& a& 7-day& taper,& Coutts& et& al.& 10&observed& an& increase& in& peak&
hamstring&torque&and&isokinetic&work,&as&well&as&increases&in&the&multistage&fitness&test,&vertical&
jump,& 3-repetition& maximum& squat,& 3-repetition& maximum&bench& press,& chin-up& and& 10-m&
sprint& performance&in& semi-professional& rugby& league& players.& Similarly,& Bishop& and& Edge& 11&
showed& an& increase& in& repeated& sprint& ability&(RSA)& after& a& 10-day& taper& in& recreational& leve l&
team-sport& female& athletes,& with&an& improvement&in& total& work,& peak& power& output,& and& a&
reduced&work&decrement&during&RSA&testing.&Elloumi&et&al.&12&observed&a&systematic&increase&in&
performance&during&physical&tests&performed&by&elite&rugby&sevens&players&following&a&14-day&
taper&(30-m&sprint,&agility&test,&lactic&test,&five-jump&test,&Yo-Yo&test&level&2).&Finally,&de&Lacey&et&
al.&13&reported& an& increase& in& maximal&power& output& and& jump&height& in& professional& National&
Rugby& League& players& after& a& 21-day& taper.& Altogether,& these& results& show& the& sensitivity& of&
physical& qualities& to& tapering& in& team& sport& players.& Nevertheless,&the& physical& performance&
supercompensation& reported& in&these& studies&was&systematically&observed& at& a& single&point&in&
time,& making& it& difficult& to& characterize& and& to& compare& the& supercompensation& kinetics& for&
different&physical&qualities.&It&remains&therefore&difficult&to&determine&which&taper&duration&may&
be&optimal&to&maximize&physical&performance&peaking&during&the&taper&phase&leading&to&a&major&
competition&in&team&sport&athletes.&Additionally,&while&previous&research&has&highlighted&a&high&
inter-individual& variability& in& individual& sports& in& response& to& tapering&4,& this& aspect&requires&
further&investigation&to&be&characterized&in&team&sport&players.&&
&
Rugby&sevens&is&a& team& sport& that& requires& players& to& repeatedly& sprint,&change& direction&and&
contest& tackles& and& rucks,& interspersed& with& periods& of& low& to& moderate& intensity& running& 14.&
The& maximal& physical& performance& of& each& player& must& be& reached& concomitantly& during&
international& sevens& tournaments,& which& take& place& every& five& weeks& in& the& World& Series& or&
after& a& 10-12& week& training& period& for& the& Olympic& Games.& Accordingly,& the& period& between&
tournaments&gives&the&opportunity&to&optimize&the&length&of&tapering&before&each&competition.&
The& aim& of& the& present& study& was& to& describe& the& supercompensation& kinetics& of& physical&
qualities&in& international& rugby& sevens&players&during& a& step& taper& phase& at& the& end& of& a&pre-
season& training& camp.& We& specifically& aimed& to& examine&the& changes&in& lower& limb& maximal&
strength,&sprint&running&performance&and&repeated&sprint&ability&during&a&3-week&experimental&
taper&programmed&after&a&4-week&intense&training&period.&&
!
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
!
Methods!
Subjects&
10&elite&male&rugby&sevens& players& (age:& 26& ±& 5& years,&height:&179&±&9& cm,& body& mass:&90& ±&11&
kg),&from&the&French&team& qualified&for& Rio&2016&Olympic&Games,&gave&their&written&informed&
consent&to&participate&in&this&study.&This&protocol&was&conducted&in&accordance&with&the&Code&of&
Ethics& of& the& World& Medical& Association& (Declaration& of& Helsinki).& Before& participation,& all&
players&had&already&completed&a&maximal&aerobic&speed&(MAS)&test.&The&MAS&of&each&player&was&
determined& in& an& incremental& test& named& University& Test& of& Bordeaux& 2”& (UTB& 2).& This& test&
consisted&of&repeated&3-min&runs,&interspersed&with&1-min&rest&periods&(passive)&between&each&
3-min.& The& speed& was& increased& by& 2& km.h-1,& between& 8& and& 12& km.h-1,& and & 1& km.h-1&from& 12&
km.h-1&to&volitional&exhaustion&15.&Players&were&familiar&with&this&test.&&
Design&
The&training&content&was&monitored&for&a&period&of&7& weeks& in& total,&divided&into&two&distinct&
phases&(Table&1).&The&first&phase&(I)&consisted&of&4&weeks&during&which&the&players&completed&a&
pre-season&training&program&with&progressive&increase&in&training&load.& The& second&phase&(II)&
involved&a&3-week&step&taper.&This&tapering&strategy&was&characterized&by&a&reduction&in:&1)&the&
total& distance& covered& during& rugby&sessions& [about& -30%,& global& positioning& system&(GPS)&
surveillance],&2)&the&number&of&sets&during&strength&and&high-intensity&training&sessions&(about&
-50%)& and& 3)& the& frequency&of& training&sessions& (about& -20%).& The& training& intensity& and&
session&content&remained&the&same& during&the&taper&than&during&the&pre-season&training&camp.&
All&testing&occurred&at&the&same&time&of& the&same&day&for&all& subjects&(i.e.&Monday&morning,&10&
a.m.&-&1&p.m.).&Warm&up&was&performed&prior&to&testing.&To&ensure&that&performance&variations&
during& each& testing& session& were& due& to& the& global& training& regime& and& not& to& the& training&
session(s)& performed& the& day& before,& the& players& were& required& to& respect& a& 24h& rest& period&
before&each&testing&session.!
!
Methodology&
Training!monitoring!!
During&rugby&training&sessions,&training&volume& and& intensity&were&calculated&on& the& basis& of&
recordings& from& 8-Hz& GPS&units& worn& by& all& players& during& all& the& rugby& sessions& (Sensor&
Everywhere,&Digital&Simulation,&France,&mass:&87&g&size:&102x52x19&mm).&Preliminary&work&was&
conducted& to& ensure&the& quality& of& the& GPS& data&and& their& high& re liability&in& comparison& with&
timing& gate& measurements&(unpublished& data).& High-levels& of& validity& (in tra-class& correlation:&
0.99,&typical&error&of&measurement:&2.7&±&0.3&%)& and&reliability&(typical&error&of&measurement:&
1.0& ±& 0.4& to& 3.8& ±& 1.8& %)& were& demonstrated& from& walking& to& high-velocity& running.&The&
maximal&aerobic&speed&was&used&to&individualize&each&player’s&speed&thresholds.!!
During&resistance&training&sessions,&training&volume&and&intensity&were&calculated&according&to&
the& methods& suggested& by& Baker& et& al.&16.& On& the& basis& of& the& type& of& exercise,& number& of&
repetitions,& sets,& load,& order& of& exercises,& speed& of& lifting,& rest& period& between& sets& and/or&
exercise,& and& periodization& structure.& Numbers& of& repetitions& and&the& sets& performed& were&
chosen&to&regulate&both&volume&and&intensity.&!
!
Testing!Methodology!
During& each& testing& session,& players& were& asked& to& perform& three& tests& in& the& same& order,&
separated& by& approximately& 10& min& of& rest& between& tests:& two& 30-m& sprints& to& assess& sprint&
acceleration& mechanical& output&and& sprint& time;& two& isometric& mid-thigh& clean& pull& trials& to&
assess& maximal& lower& limb&isometric&strength& and& a& repeated-sprint& test& (2& sets& of& five& 6-s&
sprints)& on& a& cycle& ergometer& to& assess& the& repeated& sprint& a bility.& These&physical& tests& were&
selected&because&faster&sprint&times&are&associated&with&greater&attacking&performance&(e.g.&line&
breaks,&tries&scored,&defenders&beaten)&while&performance&in&defensive&measures&and&rucks&are&
associated& with& sprint,& jump& and& RSA&performance& during& rugby& Sevens& tournaments&17.& The&
Table 1. Weekly average training during the 7-week protocol. Differences in training load parameters between weeks: * likely, ** very likely,
*** almost certain vs. Training Camp. No clear difference were reported for weekly values during the taper phase. HIT: High Intensity Training
!
PRE-SEASON TRAINING CAMP
TAPER
Duration (week)
4
1
1
Weekly total number of sessions
11
9 ***
9 ***
Rugby
Sessions
Number of sessions
5
5
5
Total distance
covered (m)
19671 ± 2143
14479 ± 1746 ***
14161 ± 1844 ***
Distribution of
training intensity
<MAS / >MAS (%)
88 ± 8 / 12 ± 3
88 ± 5 / 12 ± 2
87 ± 6 / 13 ± 3
Resistance
Training
Sessions
Number of sessions
4
3 ***
3 ***
Total number of
exercises / sets
40 ± 4 / 137 ± 15
22 *** / 74 ***
22 *** / 74 ***
HIT
Sessions
Number of sessions
2
1 ***
1 ***
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
RSA&test&was&performed&on&a&bike&18&to&limit&large&spikes&in&mechanical&stress&at&the&beginning&of&
the& pre-season&training& camp&19.& Subjects& familiarized& with& each& test& during& a& preliminary&
session,&in&the&conditions&of&the&protocol.&Before&each&testing&session,&body&mass&was&measured&
to&the&nearest& 0.1& kg& with& the&same&digital&body&weight&scales& (ADE& Electronic&Column&Scales,&
Hamburg,&Germany).&
!
Measurements*
Sprint* performance* and* mechanics.* The& performance& during&two&30-m& sprint& was& measured&
using& a& wireless& sports& timing& system& (Smart& Speed,& Fusion& Sport,& Australia)& with& a& 0.01& s&
accuracy.&Players& started& each&sprint&from&a&standing&position&with& their& feet&set&0.5&m&behind&
the& first& timing& gate&20.& The& latter& was& continuously& measured& during& the& 30-m& acceleration&
using&a& radar&device&sampling&at&48&Hz&(Stalker&Pro&II&Sports&Radar&Gun,&Plano,&TX).& The&radar&
was& placed& on& a& tripod,& 5& meters& behind& the& player& and& 1& meter& above& the& ground,& which&
approximately& corresponded&to& the& height& of& the& players’& center& of& mass.& Air& temperature,&
atmospheric&pressure&and&wind&speed&(Pro&Weather&Station,&Oregon&Scientific,&US)&were&used&to&
estimate&air&density&and& friction&force& during& the& sprint&21.& The& sprint&acceleration& mechanical&
outputs& (theoretical& maximal& horizontal& force,& F0;& maximal& horizontal& sprinting& power,& Pmax;&
theoretical&maximal&sprinting&velocity,&V0)&were&then& computed&using& the&method&of&Samozino&
et&al.&21,&which&is&based&on&instantaneous&speed-time&measurements.&*
!
Isometric* mid-thigh* clean* pull.&All& isometric& testing& was& conducted& on& a& force& plate& (Kistler&
9286B,&Kistler,&Winterthur,&Switzerland).&The&bar&was&positioned&to&correspond&to&the&players’&
power&clean&second&pull&position,&where&the&knee&and&hip&angles&were&140&±&7°&and&138&±&13°,&
respectively.&All&force&plate&data&were&sampled&at&1,000&Hz&using&Bioware&version&5.2&(Kistler,&
Winterthur,& Switzerland).& The& recommendations& of& Haff& et& al.& 22&were&followed& for& the&
implementation&of&this&test.&All&analyses&were&performed&on&the&2&isometric&mid-thigh&clean&pull&
trials.& All& force-time& curves& were& analyzed& with& the& use& of& a& custom& Matlab& (version& R2016a&
MathWorks,&Naticks,&US)&program.&The&maximum&force&generated&during&the&5-s&isometric&mid-
thigh&clean&pull&trial&was&reported&as&the&relative&peak&force&(PF,&N.kg-1)&23.&&!
&
Repeated*sprint*ability.&The&RSA&protocol&consisted&of&repeated&6-s&sprints&on&a&on&an&air-braked&
cycle& ergometer& (Wattbike&Pro,& Nottingham,& UK)&24,& interspersed& with& 24-s& rest&periods&
between&each&sprint.&Two&sets&of&5&sprints&separated&by&60-s&recovery&were&performed.&Players&
were& familiarized& with&cycle& ergometer& sprints&during& a& first& session& in& the& conditions& of& the&
protocol.&During&the&actual&testing&session,&the&warm-up&consisted&of&pedaling&at&100,&150,&200&
and&250&W&against&medium&friction&loads&every&minute&during&4&minutes&and&performing&one&6-
s&sprint& against&maximum&friction&loads.&After&3&minutes&of&rest&and&appropriate&adjustment&of&
the& handlebar& and& saddle& height& to& individual& anthropometric& characteristics,& players&
performed&the&first& 6-s& sprint&from& a& standardized&similar& starting& position& (preferred&leg& 45°&
forward).&The&relative&mean&power&output&(MPO,&W.kg-1)&was&selected&for&analysis.&&
!
Statistical*analysis*
In&order&to&assess&the&practical&meaning&of&the&results,&data&were&analyzed&using&the&magnitude-
based&inference&approach&25.&To&reduce&any&possible& bias& arising&from&non-uniformity&of& error,&
all&data&were&log&transformed&before&analysis.&The&magnitude&of&the&within-group&changes&was&
interpreted& by&using& effect& size& (Cohen’s&d)& values& of& 0.2,& 0.6,&1.2,&2.0& and& 4.0& of&the&between-
athlete&variation&at&Pre&as&thresholds&for&small,&moderate,&large,&very&large&and&extremely&large&
differences& 25.& Quantitative& chances& of& higher& or& lower& values& than& the& smallest& worthwhile&
change&(SWC,&equal&to&a& Cohen’s&d&of& 0.2)&were&evaluated&qualitatively&as&follows:&<1%,&almost&
certainly&not;&1%5%,&very&unlikely;&5%25%,&unlikely;&25%75%,&possible;&75%95%,&likely;&
95%99%,& very& likely;& and& >99%,& almost& certain.& In& the& case& of& having& beneficial/better& or&
detrimental/power&changes&were&both&>5%&higher&or&lower&values&was&5%,&the&true&difference&
was&assessed&as&unclear&25.&&
!
!
!
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
!
Results!
Training'Load'between'phase'I'and'phase'II'(Table'1).&&
The& total& distance& covered& during& the& rugby& sessions,& decreased& almost'certainly&very& largely&
between&pre-season&training&camp&and&the&taper&(-28&±&7%,&-26&±&5%&and&-29&±&11%&for&T1,&T2&
and&T3,& respectively).&During&the&tapering&phase,& changes& in& total& distance& were&systematically&
unclear&with& a& trivial& effect& size.& For& all& the& other& parameters,& weekly& changes& were& almost'
certainly&trivial&within&the&taper&phase.&
Performance&changes&throughout&the&protocol&are&shown&in&Figures&1&and&2.&
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Figure'1.'Changes'in'performance'(x'SWC)'from'baseline'during'the'three'physical'tests'after'the'
intensive'training'phase'(Post)' and' each' week' of' the' tapering' period'(T1-T3).' Differences'in'tests'
results'from'Pre:'*likely,'**very'likely,'***almost'certain.''
Note:'a'possible'small'decrease'in'sprint'performance'was'reported'from'T2'to'T3.'
Figure' 2.'Individual' changes' (dotted' lines)' and' group' mean' (solid' line)' between' Pre,' Post'and'
Peak'(best'performance'during'the'taper)'for'30-m'sprint'time'(A),'for'Peak'Force'(B)'and'for'MPO'
(C).'
'
'
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
!
Phase!I!(Table!2).&&
At&the&end&of&the& pre-season& training& camp&(Post),& changes& in& 30-m& sprint&time&(-0.5& ±& 0.8%),&
Pmax& (-4.2&5.4%),& F0& (-4.4& ±& 6.4%)& and& V0& (0.2&1.6%)& were& unclear.& Change& in& maximal&
isometric& force& output& (PF)& was&also&unclear&(-1.1& ±&4.9%)& while& an& almost!certain&increase&in&
cycling&MPO&was&observed&(+6.0&±&1.7%,&moderate).&&
!
Phase!II&(Table!2).&&
During& the& tapering& period,& the& group& showed& an& almost! certain&performance&
supercompensation& at& T1& and& T2& for& the& 30-m& sprint&time&(-2.5&0.9%,&moderate&and& -2.6& ±&
1.0%,& large,& respectively)&and&MPO& (+6.7& ±& 2.3%,& large&and& +7.1& ±& 2.1%,& large,& respectively)&
while&isometric&mid-thigh&pull&performance&changes&were&unclear.&At&T3,& the& group&very!likely&
improved&its&performance&during&the&30-m&sprint&(-1.9&±&0.9%&in&30-m&time,&moderate)&and&the&
RSA&tests&(+6.9&±&4.0%&in&MPO,&moderate)&while&isometric&mid-thigh&pull&performance&changes&
remained& unclear,& when& compared& to& Pre& values.!Between& T2& and& T3,& the& group& showed& a&
possible&increase&for&the& 30-m& sprint&time& (+0.8&±& 1.0%,&small)&while&isometric& mid-thigh&pull&
and&RSA&performance&changes&were&unclear.!!
!
Performance!peak!(Table!3!and!4).&&
Individual&data&points&for&peak&performance&are&presented&in&Figure&2&(A,&B,&C).&The&30-m&sprint&
time& decreased& almost!certainly!largely&from & baseline& to& peak& performance& (ES:& -1.61&0.47)&
and& V0&increased& likely!with& a& small& magnitude& (ES:& 0.38& ±& 0.36).& Similarly,& mid-thigh& pull& PF&
peaked!very!likely!with&a&small&increase&(ES:&0.43&±&0.30).&RSA&performance&was!almost!certainly!
moderately&increased&(ES:&0.79&±&0.23).&&
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Table 2. Mean values SD) at baseline (Pre), after the pre-season camp (Post) and at the end of each week of the tapering period (T1-T3).
Differences in tests results from Pre: *likely, **very likely, ***almost certain. Pmax: Maximal power output produced in the horizontal direction,
F0: Maximal horizontal force capability, V0: Maximal velocity capability PF: Peak Force, MPO: Mean power output; QD: Qualitative
Difference
PRE
POST
T1
T2
T3
Sprint
Performance
Sprint
Mechanical
Outputs
30-m (s)
Change %
QD
4.14 ± 0.07
4.12 ± 0.09
-0.5 ± 0.8 %
Unclear
4.03 ± 0.07***
-2.5 ± 0.9 %
Almost certain
moderate decrease
4.03 ± 0.07***
-2.6 ± 1.0 %
Almost certain
large decrease
4.06 ± 0.09**
-1.9 ± 0.9 %
Very likely
moderate decrease
Pmax (W.kg-1)
Change %
QD
18.77 ± 1.31
18.00 ± 1.43
-4.2 ± 5.4 %
Unclear
18.40 ± 0.88
-1.8 ± 3.9 %
Unclear
18.08 ± 1.08
-3.6 ± 5.0 %
Unclear
18.92 ± 1.53
0.7 ± 5.5 %
Unclear
F0 (N.kg-1)
Change %
QD
8.19 ± 0.61
7.83 ± 0.53
-4.4 ± 6.4 %
Unclear
7.94 ± 0.41
-2.9 ± 4.8 %
Unclear
7.79 ± 0.37
-4.8 ± 6.1 %
Unclear
8.23 ± 0.62
0.5 ± 6.7 %
Unclear
V0 (m.s-1)
Change %
QD
9.24 ± 0.29
9.27 ± 0.30
0.2 ± 1.6 %
Unclear
9.35 ± 0.34
1.2 ± 1.5 %
Unclear
9.36 ± 0.31
1.3 ± 1.6 %
Unclear
9.27 ± 0.36
0.2 ± 1.6 %
Unclear
Mid-thigh Pull
Performance
PF (N.kg-1)
Change %
QD
28.87 ± 4.43
28.64 ± 4.87
-1.1 ± 4.9 %
Unclear
29.42 ± 4.84
1.4 ± 5.5 %
Unclear
30.27 ± 5.27
4.4 ± 7.4 %
Unclear
30.05 ± 5.49
3.5 ± 5.7 %
Unclear
RSA
Performance
MPO (W.kg-1)
Change %
QD
11.27 ± 1.16
11.92 ± 1.05***
6.0 ± 1.7 %
Almost certain
small increase
12.00 ± 0.99***
6.7 ± 2.3 %
Almost certain
moderate increase
12.06 ± 1.19***
7.1 ± 2.1 %
Almost certain
moderate increase
12.04 ± 1.21**
6.9 ± 4.0 %
Very likely
moderate increase
!
Table 3. Tests results (Mean ± SD) - PRE / PEAK
Differences in tests results between Pre and Peak (best performance during the taper): *likely, ** very likely, ***almost certain.
ES: Effect size, CL: Confidence limits, Pmax: Maximal power output produced in the horizontal direction, F0: Maximal force capability, V0:
Maximal velocity capability, PF: Peak Force, MPO: Mean power output.
PRE
PEAK
Change
in mean (%)
ES, ±90%
CL
Qualitative
difference
Sprint
Performance
30-m (s)
4.14 ± 0.07
4.01 ± 0.07***
-3.1 ± 0.9
-1.61 ± 0.47
Almost certain large
decrease (0/0/100)
Horizontal
Mechanical
Properties
P max (W.kg-1)
18.77 ± 1.31
18.89 ± 1.30
0.6 ± 3.5
0.08 ± 0.46
Unclear
(51/23/27)
F0 (N.kg-1)
8.19 ± 0.61
8.12 ± 0.45
-0.7 ± 4.1
-0.10 ± 0.58
Unclear
(28/20/52)
V0 (m.s-1)
9.24 ± 0.29
9.37 ± 0.32*
1.4 ± 1.3
0.38 ± 0.36
Likely small increase
(93/4/3)
Mid-thigh
pull
PF (N.kg-1)
28.87 ± 4.43
31.13 ± 4.88**
7.7 ± 5.3
0.42 ± 0.37
Very likely small increase
(98/1/1)
RSA
MPO (W.kg-1)
11.27 ± 1.16
12.27 ± 1.15***
9.0 ± 2.6
0.79 ± 0.23
Almost certain moderate
increase (100/0/0)
Table 4. Occurrence (number of subjects) of the best performance during the taper (Peak) in response to the pre-season camp: Post, immediately
after the intense period; T1-3, after 1,2 or 3 week(s) of tapering. PF = Peak force; MPO = Mean power output.
Post
T1
T2
T3
30-m sprint
0
3
5
2
PF
0
1
7
2
MPO
1
4
3
2
!
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
!
Discussion!
The&aim&of&this&study&was&to&investigate&the&taper-induced&supercompensation&kinetics&of&three&
major&physical&qualities&associated&with&performance&in&team&sports.&The&major&findings&were:&
1)& sprint& performance,& maximal& strength& and& RSA&were& sensitive& to& the& taper;& 2)& a& tapering&
period&of& ~1-2&weeks& seemed& optimal,& even&if&a&minority&of&players& may&benefit&from&a& longer&
period&of&reduced&training;&3)&sprint&performance&might&decline&earlier&than&peak&force&and&RSA&
during&a&prolonged&taper&phase.&
&
Optimal(taper(duration(
One& of& the&main& findings& was& that& mean& performance& in& sprint,& maximal& strength& and& RSA&
peaked& after& 1-2& weeks& of& tapering.& The& largest& part& of& the& performance& rebound&occurred&
within&the&first&week&of&the&taper&phase&for&RSA&and&sprint&performance.&A&6.7%&increase&in&RSA&
was& observed& after& one& week& of& taper& and& reached& 7.1%& at& the& end& of& the& following&week.&
Similarly,& 30-m& sprint& time& improved& after& one& week& of& reduced& training& and&peaked&a& week&
after& (-2.5%& and& -2.6%,& at& T1& and& T2,& respectively).&Despite& changes& in& maximal& strength&
remaining&unclear&throughout&the&taper,&a&small&improvement&in&this& parameter&was&observed&
after&the&second&week&of&reduced&training.&In&this&regard,&Buchheit&et&al.&26&showed&a&likely&small&
increase& in& isometric& mid -thigh& pull& peak& force& after& a& 2-week& Christmas& break& (reduction& in&
training&load),&including&8&to&10&training&sessions,& in& a& professional&Australian& Football&League&
club.& These& results& demonstrate& that&a& 2-week&taper& may& represent& an& effective&window& to&
optimize& the& physical&performance& response,& when& a& ~30%& decrease& in& total& distance& and&
~50%& decrease& in& strength& and& high-intensity& training&is& prescribed.& They& suggest& that& a&
positive&yet&smaller&response& to&taper&can&already&be&expected&after&only&one&week&of& reduced&
training,& when& it& is& not& possible & to& program& a& longer& tapering& period.& These& observations& are&
consistent& with& previous& research& that& has&systematically&shown& supercompensation&
phenomena& after& 7-,& 10-& and&14-& days& of& taper& but& without& showing&which& duration& may& be&
optimal& to& maximize& the& physical& performance& response& to& taper& in& team& sport& players& 11,&27.&
Only& the& results&reported& by& Coutts& et& al.& 10&contrast& with& our& observations.&These& authors&
showed& that& 40-m& sprint& performance& was&not&improved& at& the& end& of& a& 7-day&taper&while& a&
phenomenon&of&supercompensation&was&observed& during& other& performance& tests& (multistage&
fitness& test,& vertical& jump,& 3-RM& squat,& 3-RM& bench& press& and& chin-up& and& 10-m& sprint&
performance).& This& observation& was& likely& due& to& the& overreaching& state& induced& by& the& pre-
taper& phase&in& this& study&suggesting& that& a& 7-day& period& may& not& be& sufficient& for& sprint&
performance&to&supercompensate,&when&the&fatigue&accumulated&during&the&pre-taper&phase&is&
very&high.&This&was&already&suggested&by&the&mathematical& modeling& study& of& Thomas&et&al.&28&
and&indicates&that&the&results&of&the&present&study&could&have&been&different&with&a&more&severe&
state&of&fatigue&in&the&players.&&
!
‘Fast-’(and(‘slow-peaking’(profiles(
When& looking& at& individual& performance,& no& single& peak& performance& was& observed& before&
tapering&(i.e.&at& the&end&of&the&intense&training&phase)&for&maximal&lower&limb&force&output&and&
sprint& performance,& while& RSA& peaked& for& only& one& athlete& at& Post.& This& result& clearly&
demonstrates& the& importance& of& tapering& for& team& sport& players&when& high&physical&
performance& is& expected.& Additionally,& the& majority& of& peaks& occurred& within& the& two& first&
weeks& of& tapering& (70%,& 80%,& 80%& for& RSA,& sprint& and& peak& force,& respectively),& while&only&
20%&of&performance&peaks& were&observed&at& T3&for& all& the&physical&qualities.&Interestingly,& no&
single&player&with&at&least&one&peak&performance&at&T3&reached&his&peak&performance&at&Post&or&
at& T1& for& another& physical& quality.& These&findings& show&that& ~1-2& weeks& may& represent& an&
optimal&tapering& duration&in&rugby&sevens&but&also&that&a&minority&of&players&may&benefit&from&
longer&tapering&period&(~3&weeks).&These&observations&also&underline&the&difficulty&to&organize&
a& training& program& adapted&to& each&individual.& Because& the& synchronization& of& these&
performance&peaks&for&all&players&may&represent&a&real&added&value&for&the&overall&team&success&
in&a&match/tournament,&the&present&findings&encourage&differentiation&of&the&taper&duration&for&
fast-’& and& slow-peaking’& profile& athletes.& Further& investigations& are& required&to& confirm& this&
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
result&on& a& larger& population& of& elite& team& sport& players& and&to& determine& whether& these&
responses&to&taper&are&reproducible.&&
!
Detraining)
The&present& results&showed&that& sprint& performance&might&decline&earlier&than& peak& force& and&
RSA& during& a& prolonged& taper& phase.& A& possible&small& decrease& in& sprint& performance& was&
indeed& observed&after& 3& weeks&of& taper&even& if& this& parameter& remained&higher& at& this& time&
point& than& at& the& end& of& the& training& camp.& While&3& players& reached& their& peak& sprint&
performance&at& T3,& substantial& declines& were& observed& in& other& players& (up& to& 3.5%& in& one&
player).&This&result&demonstrates&that&the&sprint&performance&response&to&a&prolonged&period&of&
reduced& training& was&highly& individual&in& the& present& group& of& players.& It& also& suggests& that&
either&sprint&qualities&are&more&sensitive&to&detraining&than&RSA& and&maximal&strength&or,&that&
the& strategy& used& in& the& present& study& to& reduce& the& training& load& during& the& taper& was& not&
optimal&for&this&physical& quality.&Future&studies&are&necessary&to& clarify&this& point.& In&contrast,&
the&present&study& also& shows& that& RSA&and&maximal& strength& might&be&maintained&during& a& 3-
week& taper& when& training& intensity&is& preserved,& despite& a& large& decrease& in& t raining& volume&
and&a&small&decrease&in&training&frequency.&With&regard&to&maximal&strength,&these&results&are&in&
line&with&the&meta-analysis&of&Bosquet&et&al.&29&who&showed&that&the&decrease&in&maximal&force&
became&significant&from&the&third&week&of&inactivity&and&with&the&recommendations&provided&by&
Pritchard&et&al.&27,&suggesting&that&tapering&duration&may&extend&up&to&4& weeks&for&this&physical&
quality.& Similarly,& the& robustness& of& RSA&performance&response,& which& has& been& shown& to&
strongly&rely&on&aerobic&qualities&30,&31,&was&in&line&with&the&recent&results&reported&by&Aubry&et&al.&
8,&who&showed& that& endurance& performance&can&be&preserved& during&a&4-week&taper&despite&a&
50%&reduction&in&training&volume.&These&findings&may&be&particularly&interesting&when&multiple&
peaking& is& expected& over& several& consecutive& weeks,& as&is& often& the& case& in& team& sports&
championships&or&tournaments.&&
!
Practical!Applications!
This&study& potentially& provides& valuable& practical& information& for& team& sport& coaches.!They&
demonstrate&that&1)&key&physical&qualities&are&sensitive&to&taper&in&team&players,&2)&a&window&of&
~1-2&weeks& seems&effective&for&most&athletes&and&3)& sprint& performance&decline&earlier.&These&
observations& can& help& coaches& better& control& their& training& program& and& to& ensure& that& the&
players&reached&their&peak&of&physical&performance&at&specific&times&of&the&competitive&season.&
Further& studies& are& now& required& to& determine& if& these& findings& are& confirmed& in& a& larger&
population&of&elite&team&sport&players&and&in&female&players.&
!
Conclusions!
This&study&is&the&first&to&characterize&and&to&compare&the&effects&of&taper&on&three&major&physical&
qualities& in& elite& team& sport&players,& through& a& prolonged&period& of& reduced& training& (i.e.& >& 2&
weeks)& involving& repeated&performance& assessments.& Sprint& performance,& maximal& strength&
and&RSA&were&sensitive&to&the&taper.&A&tapering&period&of&~1-2&weeks&seemed&optimal,&even&if&a&
minority& of& players& may& benefit& from& a& longer& period& of& reduced& training.& Finally,& sprint&
performance&might&decline&earlier&than&peak&force&and&RSA&during&a&prolonged&taper&phase.&
&
!
Acknowledgements!
!
This&study&was&made&possible&by&technical&support& from& the& French& Federation& of& Rugby.& The&
authors&are&especially& grateful&to&the&players& and& staff& from& the& French&Rugby&Sevens&Olympic&
team.& The& authors& would& also& like& to& thank& Chris& Carling& for& suggestions& and& English& editing&
assistance.&This&research&was&funded&by&the&French&Ministry&of&Sport&(grant&n°15-R-04).&
Marrier&et&al.&IJSPP&2017& & Tapering&in&Team&Sports&
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&
... Furthermore, optimizing the length between training completion and post-testing is of additional interest. It is common for post-testing to be done the week after program completion, even though it has been shown on both a group and individual level that peaking response can be further delayed [18]. Therefore, providing more than one week of post-testing might aid the interpretation of the value of the training modalities. ...
... The response to tapering post-intervention was varied between individuals ( Figure 3), with most athletes reaching their peak performance (maximal force and velocity) within the two first weeks, corresponding with previous literature [18]. In both groups, force orientation capacity within the sprint FV profile seemed to reduce how far the taper went, although this more evident in the RESISTED group. ...
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... 6 Due to the performance demands of elite sport, practitioners tend to implement proven successful tapering strategies, consisting of maintenance of training intensity and frequency, whereas training volume is often reduced from 40% to 60%, depending on the duration of the taper. 3 Studies in Rugby Sevens revealed moderate to large improvements in acceleration, sprint, repeated-sprint ability (RSA), and aerobic performance following either a 14-day 7 or a 21-day taper 8 with 20% to 39% and 40% to 59% training volume reduction, respectively. Similar results were reported in rugby league players, 4 with small to moderate improvements in jump performance following a 21-day taper with a 40% to 59% reduction in training volume. ...
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... Tapering is the final stage of a training plan aimed at peaking performance by reducing training load and increasing competition-task specificity. Tapering has been widely studied with endurance (3,9,18,20,(24)(25)(26)28,29,35) and team-sport athletes (5,10,13,16,19,40) but less extensively with strength athletes (11,32,41). Furthermore, the intricacies of tapering for maximal strength are not clear, and most athletes often use tapering guidelines recommended for endurance athletes (9). ...
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... Short tapering time frames (e.g. 1 À 2 weeks) have been shown to maximise the training response of sprint running performance. 22,23 It is unknown if the response to the WRT peaked after the post-intervention test occurred. ...
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Background Hamstring strain injuries (HSIs) are common within the Australian Football League (AFL) with most occurring during high-speed running (HSR). Therefore, this study investigated possible relationships between mean session running distances, session ratings of perceived exertion (s-RPE) and HSIs within AFL footballers. Methods Global positioning system (GPS)-derived running distances and s-RPE for all matches and training sessions over two AFL seasons were obtained from one AFL team. All HSIs were documented and each player's running distances and s-RPE were standardised to their 2-yearly session average, then compared between injured and uninjured players in the 4 weeks (weeks −1, −2, −3 and −4) preceding each injury. Results Higher than ‘typical’ (ie, z=0) HSR session means were associated with a greater likelihood of HSI (week −1: OR=6.44, 95% CI=2.99 to 14.41, p<0.001; summed weeks −1 and −2: OR=3.06, 95% CI=2.03 to 4.75, p<0.001; summed weeks −1, −2 and −3: OR=2.22, 95% CI=1.66 to 3.04, p<0.001; and summed weeks −1, −2, −3 and −4: OR=1.96, 95% CI=1.54 to 2.51, p<0.001). However, trivial differences were observed between injured and uninjured groups for standardised s-RPE, total distance travelled and distances covered whilst accelerating and decelerating. Increasing AFL experience was associated with a decreased HSI risk (OR=0.77, 95% CI 0.57 to 0.97, p=0.02). Furthermore, HSR data modelling indicated that reducing mean distances in week −1 may decrease the probability of HSI. Conclusions Exposing players to large and rapid increases in HSR distances above their 2-yearly session average increased the odds of HSI. However, reducing HSR in week −1 may offset HSI risk.
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Abstract The purpose of this study was to quantify the global match demands of international rugby sevens and to compare the match demands of forwards and backs, and between tournament rounds. To assess the match demands, global positioning system (GPS) and video analysis were collected from 27 international rugby sevens players from the same team across an entire International Rugby Board Sevens World Series season. Differences in running demands and match activities between forwards and backs were mostly trivial and small (ES = 0.05-0.84) while differences in running demands and match activities between Pool and Cup rounds were trivial (ES = 0.001-0.12). Cup round matches showed an increase in long-duration ball-in-play sequences (proportion ratio 0.46). These findings suggest international rugby sevens forwards and backs experience similar match demands while overall match demands remain consistent across tournament rounds.
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This study aimed to validate a simple field method for determining force- and power-velocity relationships and mechanical effectiveness of force application during sprint running. The proposed method, based on an inverse dynamic approach applied to the body center of mass, estimates the step-averaged ground reaction forces in runner's sagittal plane of motion during overground sprint acceleration from only anthropometric and spatiotemporal data. Force- and power-velocity relationships, the associated variables, and mechanical effectiveness were determined (a) on nine sprinters using both the proposed method and force plate measurements and (b) on six other sprinters using the proposed method during several consecutive trials to assess the inter-trial reliability. The low bias (<5%) and narrow limits of agreement between both methods for maximal horizontal force (638 ± 84 N), velocity (10.5 ± 0.74 m/s), and power output (1680 ± 280 W); for the slope of the force-velocity relationships; and for the mechanical effectiveness of force application showed high concurrent validity of the proposed method. The low standard errors of measurements between trials (<5%) highlighted the high reliability of the method. These findings support the validity of the proposed simple method, convenient for field use, to determine power, force, velocity properties, and mechanical effectiveness in sprint running. © 2015 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.