Degree Name

Master of Philosophy


School of Medical, Indigenous and Health Sciences


American collegiate football (ACF) is one of the most demanding sports one could participate in. The physicality of the preparation and competition, along with the compounding effects of full-time academic demands provide an environment where adverse outcomes physically or mentally may develop. ACF has a long history, with the first game being played in 1869. The revenue that is generated by each program that’s competing in the Bowl Championship Series provides a significant resource for programs to support the student-athlete. Although, there is still limited research on methods to monitor the health and wellbeing of the student-athlete. It is common practice in an elite sporting environment to have a well-designed athlete monitoring system to support the athlete, performance, medical and coaching staff with the information regarding the student-athletes response and readiness to the activities they are involved in. These systems must allow efficient data collection due to the size of the roster and provide near instantaneous feedback so that appropriate decisions can be made to provide the best possible stimulus for the individual or team. Biomarkers provide useful information to highlight underlying physical pathways that may provide insights to the response of an athlete throughout various phases of the season. Although biomarker testing can be invasive and the analysis often takes too long for rapid decision making. Alternative point of care (POC) testing is thus desired as they are typically designed to be executed within an applied setting as well as results being turned around quickly. Further, measures that are implemented into an athlete monitoring system need to be assessed next to other tools to allow for an understanding of the expected results. Therefore, the first aim of this thesis was to assess the associations of a novel free oxygen radical test (FORT)/ free oxygen radical defense (FORD) POC test to measure alterations in redox homeostasis indirectly via a fingertip capillary sample alongside common methods of assessing athlete readiness including i) an overnight urinary cortisol sample, ii) neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) measured via a countermovement jump (CMJ) and iii) a subjective wellness questionnaire. Twenty-three student athletes were assessed once weekly for 10-weeks, with 4-5 student-athletes randomly assigned a ‘testing’ day (Mon-Fri) each week. Due to significant differences in the physical demands of the different phases across an ACF season, measures across summer conditioning, fall camp and in-season were included. Herein, greater FORT concentrations were associated with decreased CMJ flight time, subjective fatigue and muscle soreness (ES range; = -0.30 to -0.48). Further, greater concentrations of FORD were associated with greater CMJ flight time, RSI modified, and subjective muscle soreness (ES range; = 0.37 to 0.41). Greater OSI concentrations were associated with greater CMJ concentric impulse (ES = 0.37 ± 0.28) and decreased subjective muscle soreness (ES = 0.56 ± 0.29). Lastly, greater subjective soreness was also associated with decreased CMJ performance (ES range; = 0.33 to 0.59), increased FORT (ES = -0.48 ± 0.25) and decreased FORD (ES = 0.41 ± 0.30).

The second investigation aimed to assess whether summer conditioning, fall camp and in-season phases of this investigation influenced the observed response of objective and subjective markers that were shown to be associated within study one. In addition, considering the known differences in phenotype and physiological stressors across positional groups in ACF. Positional groups were included as an interaction effect in statistical modeling. The same 23 participants were included within this analysis, including seven ‘Bigs’ (5 offensive line, 2 defensive line), nine ‘Combo’s’ (3 TE, 2 QB, 3 LB, 1 RB) and seven ‘Skill’s’ (2 WR and 5 DB). The ‘Bigs’ group were shown to experience greater objective strain (FORT/ FORD and CMJ flight time and RSImod) (P=<0.05) and subjective muscle soreness (P=<0.05) during the off-season when compared to fall-camp and during in-season compared to ‘Combos’ and ‘Skills’ players. This thesis has shown that the FORT / FORD POC test is an objective measure of ‘strain’ that is associated with more common measures of athlete readiness and wellness and importantly highlights the impact that different season phases can have across differing playing groups in college football.

FoR codes (2008)

110602 Exercise Physiology, 110604 Sports Medicine, 110699 Human Movement and Sports Science not elsewhere classified



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.