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Seasonal variation in fitness in a women's National League hockey squad
  1. E Jones,
  2. A McGregor
  1. Munrow Sport Centre, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, West Midlands, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK


Regular fitness assessments are crucial in monitoring the efficacy of a training programme, judging return to play after injury and motivating athletes. The data can be used by practitioners to track differences in fitness at specific time points in the season or between playing positions. This study presents three seasons of test data in an elite women's squad, covering their promotion from National Division 1 to Premier League Status. Injury-free players were tested at the start of the preseason (PRE), start of competition (COMP1), midseason break (XMAS) and the start of second competition phase (COMP2) for the 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. Test battery comprised speed (0-5 m, 0-30 m), repeated sprint (8×56 m off 40 s rolling clock) and the yo-yo intermittent recovery test level 1. Aerobic conditioning improved from PRE to COMP1 to XMAS and was maintained (2007-2008), improved (2008-2009) or declined (2009-2010) in the second half of the season. The lowest levels were seen in the 2007-2008 season. Trends in the speed data are difficult to elicit due to missing data points. Repeated sprint performance was lowest at PRE and improved to COMP1 in all three seasons. A decline was evident between XMAS and COMP2. Improvements in aerobic conditioning from the 2007 to the 2008 season reflect the onset of a squad training intervention. There were no further improvements on promotion to the Premier League. A general increase in aerobic conditioning from preseason to the Christmas break is likely indicative of 5-6 months' conditioning. Fitness levels over the midseason break show maintenance in aerobic and repeated sprint performance in the 2008-2009 season. In 2009-2010, a decline was evident in both these parameters, probably due to the inclement weather negatively affecting training patterns and/or poor adherence to the training programme.

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