The pacing of mixed martial arts sparring bouts: A secondary investigation with new analyses of previous data to support accelerometry as a potential method of monitoring pacing
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College of Life and Natural Sciences, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom
Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
University of Salford, Salford, United Kingdom
University of Central Lancashire, Preston, United Kingdom
Submission date: 2019-08-16
Acceptance date: 2019-11-29
Publication date: 2020-06-18
Hum Mov. 2020;21(4):88-96
Body-worn accelerometry has been shown to be reliable and used to measure the external load of mixed martial arts (MMA) via the Playerload metric. These measurements were only reported on a round-by-round basis, offering little indication of minute-by-minute load changes. Understanding these changes may provide a proxy measure of fatigue, readiness, and the onset of non-functional overreaching. It is also unclear as to what Playerload is measuring in MMA. This study was a secondary investigation of previously reported data to describe minute-by-minute changes in external load in MMA.

Six male MMA competitors participated in a 3 × 5 minute sparring bout wearing a Catapult Minimax × 3, which recorded accumulated Playerload. The bouts were video-recorded. Time-motion analysis was used to determine: total active time; total inactive time; high-intensity time; low-intensity time; standing time; grounded time; striking time; non-striking time.

Bayesian repeated measures ANOVA found statistically relevant differences in accumulated Playerload for each minute of sparring (BF10 = 410) with no statistically relevant differences between winners and losers. Bayesian correlations revealed a direct, nearly perfect relationship between accumulated Playerload and total active time (r = 0.992, BF10 = 9,666). No other relationships between Playerload and time-motion analysis results were observed, despite Bayesian t-tests finding differences between standing time and grounded time (BF10 = 83.7), striking time and non-striking time (BF10 = 1,419).

Playerload reflects overall active movement in MMA and measures active movement minute-by-minute changes but cannot distinguish between different modes or intensities of movement. This should be investigated further as a potential measure of fatigue and non-functional overreaching during MMA training.

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