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Title: Environmental stressors and cooling interventions on simulated soccer performance
Author: Aldous, Jeffrey William Frederick
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 4975
Awarding Body: University of Bedfordshire
Current Institution: University of Bedfordshire
Date of Award: 2016
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The increasing globalization of elite soccer match-play means that soccer players are likely to compete in hot, hypoxic and hot-hypoxic environments over a season. Soccer match-play studies have identified a marked decline in soccer-specific physical performance in the heat and hypoxia due to increasing body temperatures and a reduction in partial pressure of oxygen (PO2), respectively. As hot environments are more prevalent in elite soccer match-play, cooling strategies have been assessed within the literature in an attempt to alleviate these heat-induced- decrements. However, utilising a soccer match-play design makes environmental and interventional inferences difficult to ascertain, as a plethora of match factors and adaptive pacing strategies cause high variability in key physical performance measures within soccer match-play. Therefore, the three experiments within thesis aimed to assess the reliability and validity of a non-motorised treadmill (NMT) based soccer-specific simulation [intermittent Soccer Performance Test - (iSPT)], to enable the reliable investigation of environmental stress on soccer performance and the efficacy of pre- and half-time-cooling to attenuate any heat- induced-decrements. The purpose of experiment 1 was to investigate the reliability and validity of iSPT which utilised a novel speed component called a ‘variable run’. This speed component quantified the distance covered at a self-selected speed above the second ventilatory threshold (VT2speed), which attempted to delimit a ‘high-intensity’ threshold. Twenty male University soccer players completed one maximal oxygen (O2) uptake (V̇ O2max ) test, three familiarisation (FAM) sessions and one peak speed assessment (PSA) on the NMT, before completing the iSPT twice (iSPT1 and iSPT2). The total distance, sprint distance and high-speed distance covered were 8,952 ± 476 m, 1,000 ± 74 m and 2156 ± 140 m, respectively. No significant difference (p>0.05) was found between repeated trials of the iSPT for all physical performance measures and physiological responses. Reliability measures between iSPT1 and iSPT2 showed good agreement [Coefficient of variation: <4.6%; Intraclass correlation: >0.80] compared with statistical guidelines. Furthermore, the variable run phase showed high speed running capacity was significantly decreased (p<0.05) in the last 15 min compared to the first 15 min, showing parity with previous match-play data. Experiment 1 validated the iSPT as a NMT based soccer- specific simulation compared to previous match-play data, and is a reliable tool for assessing and monitoring the physical performance and physiological responses in soccer players. Successfully completing the aim of experiment 1 facilitated the quantification of hot (HOT), hypoxia (HYP) and hot-hypoxia (HH) mediated decrements on maximal soccer-specific performance in experiment 2. Twelve male University soccer players completed three FAM sessions, one PSA and four randomised crossover experimental trials of the intermittent Soccer Performance Test (iSPT) in normoxic-temperate (CON: 18oC 50% rH), HOT (30oC; 50% rH), HYP (1,000m; 18oC 50% rH) and HH (1,000m; 30oC; 50% rH). Physical performance and its performance decrements, body temperatures [rectal (Tre), skin (Tsk) and estimated muscle temperature (Tmu)], heart rate (HR), arterial blood oxygen saturation (SaO2), perceived exertion, thermal sensation (TS), body mass changes, blood lactate (Bla) and plasma volume were all measured. Performance decrements were similar in HOT and HYP [total distance (-4%), high- speed distance (~-8%) and variable run distance (~-12%) covered] and exacerbated in HH [total distance (-9%), high-speed distance (-15%) and variable run distance (-15%)] compared to CON. A 4% increase in peak sprint speed was present in HOT compared with CON and HYP and 7% greater in HH. The sprint distance covered was unchanged (p > 0.05) in HOT and HYP and only decreased in HH (-8%) compared with CON. Body mass (-2%), temperatures (+2- 5%) and TS (+18%) were altered in HOT. Furthermore, SaO2 (-8%) and HR (+3%) were changed in HYP. Similar changes in body mass and temperatures, HR, TS and SaO2 were evident in HH compared to HOT and HYP, however, Bla (p < 0.001) and plasma volume (p <0.001) were only significantly altered in HH. Perceived exertion was elevated (p < 0.05) by 7% in all conditions compared with CON. Regression analysis identified that absolute TS and absolute rise in Tsk and estimated Tmu (r = 0.82, r = 0.84 r = 0.82, respectively; p <0.05) predicted the hot-mediated-decrements in HOT. The hot, hypoxic and hot-hypoxic environments impaired physical performance during iSPT. Future interventions should address the increases in TS and body temperatures, to attenuate these decrements in physical performance. Experiment 3 of this thesis aimed to identify three pre- and half-time-cooling strategies to attenuate the heat-induced-decrements previously seen in experiment 2. Eight male University soccer players completed four randomised experimental trials of iSPT, three with cooling and one control (i.e. No pre- or half-time cooling: CON). The pre- and half-time-cooling interventions involved were 30-min or 15 min in duration, respectively. Ice slurry ingestion (SLURRY), ice packs (PACKS) covering the upper legs and mixed-methods (MM: PACKS and SLURRY) were utilised as the three cooling interventions. Physical performance and its performance decrements, body temperatures (Tre, Tsk and estimated Tmu), HR, perceived exertion, TS, body mass changes and Bla were all measured. Compared with CON, both PACKS and SLURRY pre-cooling significantly reduced (p > 0.05) central (Tre) and peripheral (Tsk and estimated Tmu) body temperatures prior to iSPT, respectively. However, body temperature and physical performance were unchanged during the first half of PACKS and SLURRY compared with CON. The MM pre-cooling significantly reduced all body temperatures and TS both prior to and during the first half which coincided with an improvement in total distance (+3%), high-speed distance (+4%) and variable run distance (+5%) covered. Half-time-cooling via PACKS, SLURRY and MM had no ergogenic effect (p> 0.05) upon physical performance in the second half, compared with CON. The 30 min of mixed-method pre-cooling, via ice packs placed upon the upper legs and ice slurry ingestion, significantly improved simulated soccer performance during the first half, however, future research should identify a valid half-time-cooling strategy to offer further improvements to physical performance in the second half. The main findings within this thesis revealed that the iSPT showed validity with previous soccer match-play data and strong reproducibility between two tests (iSPT1 and iSPT2). Furthermore, the variable run component showed efficacy as sensitive measure of the decrements in high-speed running capability. As the iSPT demonstrated low test-retest error compared with the statistical guidelines and previous NMT based soccer-specific simulations, any changes to physical performance can be attributed to an intervention and not the variability of the measure, unlike in soccer match-play situations. No difference was seen for all physical performance measures in both HOT and HYP, however, the heat and hypoxic-induced- decrements stem from increasing body temperatures and changes to both SaO2 and HR, respectively. Such decrements may have a detrimental effect upon the match outcome. These heat-induced-decrements were attenuated in the first half after 30 min of mixed-methods pre- cooling, however, the 15 min of mixed-methods half-time-cooling did not significantly improve any physical performance measure in the second half. The mixed-method pre-cooling strategy tested within this thesis could go some way in maintaining physical performance during the first half of soccer match-play in hot environments (~30oC). However, future laboratory based research within a controlled environment should look to assess different combinations, times and strategies of cooling which may be applicable to the time constraints associated with elite soccer.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: environmental stressors ; cooling interventions ; simulated soccer ; soccer ; football ; cooling ; physiology ; sports science ; C600 Sports Science ; heat stress ; heat-stress