An Investigation of Athlete Workload Monitoring and Injury in Professional Men’s Basketball
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Basketball is an intermittent high intensity team sport requiring both technical skill and physical athleticism. Due to the need for repetitive absorption of high landing impact forces, the majority of injuries sustained in basketball occur in the lower extremities, most commonly in the lower back, knee and ankle. Additionally, a high frequency of overuse and inflammation injuries have been observed, which could reflect the cumulative effects of a high physical workload combined with travel, and short between-match recovery times. Appropriate load monitoring strategies should be implemented to allow for sufficient recovery while optimising performance. To date, there is limited literature that has investigated the relationship between workload and injury risk in professional basketball. The overall purpose of this thesis was to investigate athlete workload monitoring and injury in professional men’s basketball. A prospective cohort study was conducted to investigate the relationship between absolute and relative measures of workload and injury risk. Although it was observed that a higher proportion of injuries occurred when in the high acute to chronic workload ratio (ACWR) range, analysis using a frailty model showed no significant difference in injury risk between different ACWR categories, nor was there sufficient evidence to support the existence of an ACWR sweet spot as reported in previous studies. Additionally, there were no significant differences between injury risk and a number of different measures of absolute workload. These findings suggest that the ACWR may not be suitable for informing injury risk in professional basketball, and that workload should not be considered in isolation for informing injury risk in professional basketball. However, this study was limited by a small sample size, therefore further research using a larger sample size is needed to reduce the uncertainty of the findings. Another important component of athlete monitoring is the periodization and distribution of training load. To better understand the training demands in professional basketball, a drill workload profile was established, relative to official in-season game workload. Results showed that game intensity (8.02 ±2.59 AU/min) was significantly higher than that of any drill type with moderate to very large differences. There was also a clear distinction between high intensity drills (fitness, offensive, defensive, scrimmage) and low intensity drills (shooting, tactical), with large to very large differences. These findings provide new information on the loading intensity of different drill types used in basketball relative to the intensity of a game, which may be used to aid workload prescription depending on the desired intensity or training outcome of a session.