A Worldwide Survey on the Practices and Perceptions of Submaximal Fitness Tests in Team Sports

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International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Purpose: To survey team-sport practitioners on current practices and perceptions of submaximal fitness tests (SMFTs). Methods: A convenience sample of team-sport practitioners completed an online survey (September to November 2021). Descriptive statistics were used to obtain information of frequencies. A mixed-model quantile (median) regression was employed to assess the differences between the perceived influence of extraneous factors. Results: A total of 66 practitioners (74 discrete protocols) from 24 countries completed the survey. Time-efficient and nonexhaustive nature were considered the most important features of implementation. Practitioners prescribed a range of SMFTs, administered mostly on a monthly or weekly basis, but scheduling strategies appeared to differ across SMFT categories. Cardiorespiratory/metabolic outcome measures were collected in most protocols (n = 61; 82%), with the majority monitoring heart-rate-derived indices. Subjective outcome measures (n = 33; 45%) were monitored exclusively using ratings of perceived exertion. Mechanical outcome measures (n = 19; 26%) included either a combination of locomotor outputs (eg, distance covered) or variables derived from microelectrical mechanical systems. The perceived influence of extraneous factors on measurement accuracy varied according to outcome measure, and there was a lack of consensus among practitioners. Conclusions: Our survey showcases the methodological frameworks, practices, and challenges of SMFTs in team sports. The most important features for implementation perhaps support the use of SMFTs as a feasible and sustainable tool for monitoring in team sports. The wide variety of protocols, scheduling strategies, and outcome measures, along with their associated collection and analytical techniques, may reflect the absence of robust evidence regarding the application of SMFTs in team sports.

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