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Comparison of Preseason and In-Season Practice and Game Loads in National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Players

Wellman, Aaron D.1; Coad, Sam C.1; Flynn, Patrick J.2; Siam, Ty K.3; McLellan, Christopher P.1

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 4 - p 1020–1027
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002173
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Wellman, AD, Coad, SC, Flynn, PJ, Siam, TK, and McLellan, CP. A Comparison of preseason and in-season practice and game loads in NCAA Division I football players. J Strength Cond Res 33(4): 1020–1027, 2019—The aim of this study was to quantify the individual practice and game loads throughout the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football season to determine whether significant differences exist between the practice loads associated with the preseason training camp and those undertaken during the in-season period. Thirty-one NCAA Division I football players were monitored using the global positioning system and triaxial accelerometer (IA) (MinimaxX S5; Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia) during 22 preseason practices, 36 in-season practices, and 12 competitions. The season was divided into 4 distinct phases for data analysis: preseason week 1 (preseason 1), preseason week 2 (preseason 2), preseason week 3 (preseason 3), and 12 in-season weeks. Individual IA data sets represented players from every offensive and defensive position group Wide Receiver (WR: n = 5), Offensive Line (OL: n = 4), Running Back (RB: n = 4), Quarterback (QB: n = 2), Tight End (TE: n = 3), Defensive Line (DL: n = 4), Linebacker (LB: n = 4), Defensive Back (DB: n = 5). Data were set at the practice level, where an observation for each player's maximum player load (PLMax) or mean player load (PLMean) from each training camp phase was referenced against each player's respective PL from each game, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday practice session. Notable results included significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater PLMax values attributed to preseason 1 compared with PL resulting from all in-season practices, and significantly (p ≤ 0.05) higher cumulative PL reported for preseason 1, 2, and 3 compared with every in-season week. Data from this study augment our understanding of the practice demands experienced by NCAA Division I college football players, and provide scope for the improvement of preseason practice design and physical conditioning strategies for coaches seeking to optimize performance.

1Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Queensland, Australia;

2School of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana; and

3Football Operations Analyst, New York Giants, East Rutherford, New Jersey

Address correspondence to Aaron D. Wellman, aaron.wellman@giants.nfl.net.

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.