Sport expertise research provides a robust body of knowledge on the characteristics that separate experts from those less skilled. Perceptual skill is recognized as an important factor in agility performance in team sports like Australian Football (AF). However, perceptual-agility research to date has concentrated on inter expertise skill differences (i.e., elite vs. novice). This study investigated the presence of any intra-group differences within a cohort of elite AF athletes on a simulated perceptual-agility task. Specific aims were to 1) identify if AF athletes predetermined as high agility displayed superior perceptual-agility skill compared to low agility AF athletes, and 2) identify if high experience AF athletes displayed superior perceptual-agility skill compared to low experience AF athletes. Fourteen AF athletes performed a video-based Perceptual-Agility Test (PAT) that assessed the athletes’ decision time and decision accuracy in response to intercepting an attacking player on the projected simulation. Part 1 of the analysis; the athletes were divided into two groups (n = 7 each) by way of median split according to their in-game defensive agility performance scores. T-tests were conducted to reveal any differences between the groups in decision time and decision accuracy (Part 1 and Part 2). No significant differences were found in decision time or decision accuracy between the high and low agility AF athletes. Part 2 of the analysis; the 14 athletes (high experience) were compared to a group of low experience athletes (n = 8) on their PAT performance. No significant differences were found in decision time or decision accuracy between the high and low experience AF athletes. While there were no observable differences within the cohort of elite AF athletes using the predetermined classifications of agility and experience, this study does, however, confirm the difficulty of revealing intra expertise performance indicators using assessment tools that routinely discriminate a priori levels of skill (i.e., expert vs. novice).
Repeated sprint training improves intermittent peak running speed in team-sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res 25(5): 1318-1325, 2011-The aim of this study was to compare the effect of 2 repeated sprint training interventions on an intermittent peak running speed (IPRS) test designed for Australian Rules football. The test required participants to perform 10 3 10-m maximal efforts on an 80-m course every 25 seconds, for each of which the mean peak speed (kilometers per hour) was recorded to determine IPRS. The training interventions were performed twice weekly for 4 weeks immediately before regular football training. In the constant volume intervention (CVol), sprint repetition number remained at 10 (n = 9), and in the linear increase in volume (LIVol) intervention, repetition number increased linearly each week by 2 repetitions (n = 12). Intermittent peak running speed, 300-m shuttle test performance, and peak running speed were assessed before and upon completion of training. All measures were compared to a control group (CON; n = 8) in which players completed regular football training exclusively. Intermittent peak running speed performance in CVol and LIVol improved significantly (p < 0.01) by 5.2 and 3.8%, respectively, with no change in IPRS for CON. There were no differences in IPRS changes between CVol and LIVol. Additionally, peak running speed improved significantly (p < 0.01) by 5.1% for CVol, whereas 300-m shuttle performance improved significantly (p < 0.01) by 2.6% for LIVol only. Intermittent peak running speed, 300-m shuttle performance and peak running speed were improved after 4 weeks of training; however, progressively increasing sprint repetition number had no greater advantage on IPRS adaptation. Additionally, exclusive regular football training over a 4-week period is unlikely to improve IPRS, peak running speed, or 300-m shuttle performance.