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The Workout Responses of Salivary-Free Testosterone and Cortisol Concentrations and Their Association With the Subsequent Competition Outcomes in Professional Rugby League

Crewther, Blair T.1,2; Sanctuary, Colin E.3; Kilduff, Liam P.2; Carruthers, Jamie S.4; Gaviglio, Chris M.5,6; Cook, Christian J.1,2,7,8

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: February 2013 - Volume 27 - Issue 2 - p 471–476
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182577010
Original Research

Abstract: Crewther, BT, Sanctuary, CE, Kilduff, LP, Carruthers, JS, Gaviglio, CM, and Cook, CJ. The workout responses of salivary-free testosterone and cortisol concentrations and their association with the subsequent competition outcomes in professional rugby league. J Strength Cond Res 27(2): 471–476, 2013—This study assessed the responses of salivary-free testosterone (T) and cortisol (C) concentrations across selected training workouts and their association with the subsequent competition outcomes in professional rugby league. Thirteen rugby league players were assessed for salivary-free T and C concentrations across 5 training workouts performed 3–4 days before a competitive game. The game outcomes included wins and losses and game-ranked performance (1–5) based on the number of points scored, the points differential, and a coach rating. Data were pooled across the winning (n = 3) and losing (n = 2) outcomes. Pooled free T concentrations (absolute and relative changes) were significantly (p < 0.01) elevated across those workouts that preceded winning games, but not the losses, and the relative (percent) T changes were significantly (p < 0.05) higher before winning (30.9%) than before losing (3.4%). Both outcomes were associated with workout decreases in pooled free C concentrations and the relative C changes were not significantly different between wins (−22.9%) and losses (−25.6%). In conclusion, the free T responses to selected training workouts showed some association with subsequent winning (being elevated) and losing (no change) during a limited number of competitive games in professional rugby league. Speculatively, the free T responses to a midweek workout might provide an early sign of team readiness to compete or to recovery state, thereby providing a novel format for implementing training or management strategies to improve the competition outcomes.

1Hamlyn Center, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom

2Health and Sport Portfolio, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom

3Wakefield Wildcats Rugby League, Wakefield, United Kingdom

4Wakefield College, Wakefield, United Kingdom

5School of Human Movement Studies, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia

6Gold Coast SUNS—AFL Franchise Gold Coast, Brisbane, Australia

7United Kingdom Sport Council, London, United Kingdom

8Department for Health, Sport, Health and Exercise Science, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Blair T. Crewther, bcrewthe@imperial.ac.uk.

© 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association