The effect of competitive Gaelic football match play on player immunoendocrine status
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Introduction: Research by Halson (2014) suggested the importance of monitoring both internal and external training load of athletes to optimise both recovery and subsequent performances. Global Positioning System (GPS) has become common place in quantifying external workload in team sport athletes. Salivary hormones, namely testosterone (T) and cortisol (C), have also been utilised to explore individual training load tolerance in team sports and have been reported to fluctuate in response to competitive rugby match-play (West et al., 2014), with temporary immunosuppression also reported (Cunniffe et al., 2010). Methodology: Saliva and blood samples were collected 46- and 2h pre-game, as well as immediately, 48- and 72h post-game. GPS data was collected during trainings and games. Saliva samples were pooled (n = 17) to explore a larger sample size, before individual game analysis (n=7) was conducted to explore the largest sample size in a single game. Pooled serum samples (n = 8) and individual samples (n = 4) were also analysed. Results: A significant effect for time was reported for salivary C concentrations in pooled samples (P=0.001). While a significant effect for time was reported for SAA in individual game samples (P=0.026). Analysis of the correlations between Δ immunoendocrine concentrations and GPS metrics for the individual game samples, reported only three significant correlations. The first significant correlation was between TΔ0-48 and HSR% (r = 0.83, P=0.020). The other two significant strong negative correlations were described between SAAΔ2-0 and both TD (r = -0.97; P=0.035) and relative TD (r = 0.97; P=0.035). Discussion: Salivary hormones returned to baseline concentrations at 48h post-game in line with previous research (Cunniffe et al., 2011). Correlation analysis suggested that players who endure greater HSR% during the game, will experience a greater decrease in salivary T concentrations from 0- to 48h post-match in elite Gaelic footballers. Conclusion Quantifying individual recovery timelines, using objective measures, provides coaches with the ability to appropriately monitor their athletes and optimise subsequent performances. Despite the fact that internal load does not appear to dictate the magnitude of change in immunoendocrine markers, the benefits of load monitoring are still evident.
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