478611 Engineering Fitness in Collegiate Field Hockey

Monday, November 14, 2016
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Margaret G. Graves, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA

Fitness tracking metrics are commonplace in high-profile professional and Olympic level sports, however these methods are still in their infancy for collegiate level low-revenue sports such as field hockey. For coaches, access to quantified fitness data on players beyond simple fitness test numbers provides a more complete picture of physical fitness and fatigue in their players. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has strict guidelines when it comes to the definition of “in-season” that forces players and coaches to pack fitness training and athletic competitions into a small window of time. During this time, certain players have more field time during games than other players, amounting to up to four hours a week of additional cardiovascular and muscular training in comparison to other players. The team can be split into three categorization of athlete according to playing time: Core, Rotational, and Developmental. This work begins to look at the impact of differences in categorization and exercise load on players’ fitness.

The work presented here focuses on four areas of interest regarding player fitness and performance: (1) reactive strength index, (2) heart rate desaturation, (3) training impact (TRIMP) and perceived exertion as well as (4) sleep quantity and quality. The reactive strength index is calculated as the ratio of flight time to contact time when performing a drop jump technique. The subject steps from a box onto a force plate, jumps upwards as quickly as possible without bending the knees, and lands back on the force plate. Data on heart rate desaturation is collected using heart rate monitors worn around the torso. The subjects undergo cardiovascular activity meant to get the heart rate close to maximum and then all subjects stop activity and the heart rate decreases. This data is fit to a first order differential equation and the parameters from the equation are used to assess cardiovascular fitness. TRIMP is calculated as a weighted time in each heart rate zone (% of maximum heart rate) and is used as a metric of physical exertion. Perceived exertion is a self-reported measurement using the Borg Scale of Perceived Exertion and is used to measure how hard each subject believes they are working. At the beginning and end of the season, each player receives a score for various power indices as part of their fitness tracking. These indices are compared pre- to post-season and between different fitness group categorization. This research is still in its inception; with time and data the plan is to develop a fuller picture of physiological fitness for the collegiate field hockey player.

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