Performance attenuation and recovery in Gaelic games
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Background: Gaelic games match-play involves players undertaking frequent and irregular anaerobic efforts interspersed with low-intensity aerobic activity, while being regularly exposed to physical contact during contests for possession. Performance of such actions in a physically demanding environment results in performance attenuation and the development of fatigue and muscle damage. Success in Gaelic games necessitates consistent high-level performances, with athletes and coaches seeking any advantage in preparation for competition. Developing players components of fitness and optimising recovery strategy use may help increase competitive in-game workloads, reduce performance attenuation and alleviate post-match fatigue and muscle damage. Aims: This project aims to examine the performance attenuation experienced by Gaelic players, the influence of physical conditioning on these responses and the subsequent timeline and strategies of recovery utilised following match-play. Study 1 investigated performance attenuation and the timeline of post-match recovery during and following a senior club-level Gaelic football match. Creatine kinase, drop jump height, contact time, reactive strength index, countermovement jump height and a perceptual questionnaire were assessed during and up to 48 hrs post-match. Results suggest large decrements in performance and substantial multifaceted fatigue are induced by a competitive senior club-level Gaelic football match. Study 2 & 3 examined the relationship between selected components of fitness and in game workload measures, performance attenuation and post-match recovery. Player’s anthropometrics, running speed, strength, power, and aerobic capacity were assessed over two separate days, one week before a competitive match. GPS units were used to examine in-game workload measures. Results suggest that well-developed running speed, body composition and lower-body power are positively associated with competition workloads. Furthermore, measures of performance attenuation and post-match fatigue were reduced in players with well-developed aerobic capacity and lower-body strength. Study 4 & 5 investigated Gaelic athletes’ implementation and perceptions of post-exercise recovery strategies. A survey consisting of a combination of Likert scale, open-ended response and checkbox questions was administered to adult Gaelic games players of different sports, playing standard and biological sex. Sleep, hydration, strategic nutritional intake, stretching and active cool down were perceived to be the most effective strategies. In addition, an active cool down, application of cold, sleep routine, nutritional strategy and massage were the most prevalently used recovery practices by Gaelic games players. Overall, while recovery strategies with well documented efficacy are most regularly used and are rated as the most important, a distinct and possibly problematic discrepancy was identified between the implementation and perceived importance of many regenerative practices and their scientifically demonstrated efficacy.
- PhD Theses 
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