Feasibility of a surface electromyography-based compression garment for monitoring internal player load in professional basketball

Ashcroft, Kurtis (2023) Feasibility of a surface electromyography-based compression garment for monitoring internal player load in professional basketball. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The psychophysiological demands placed on professional athletes nowadays is greater than ever. In fact, professional basketball players can compete up to three time per week in addition to frequent and regular training sessions. Thus, adequately prescribing and monitoring athletes’ loads is important to maintain player well-being, reduce fatigue while optimising performance. Therefore, sport science research is saturated with different internal and external load monitoring approaches to help teams achieve these goals. Expansion of the global wearable technology market in sport is ever growing as practitioners seek a competitive advantage to their competitors. One such technology which has clinically and extensively been used for decades but has entered a new era into the wearable technology field in sport is surface electromyography (sEMG). However, little research reports on this technology in sport and the internal load metrics which representative companies claim it can report. The purpose of this doctoral thesis was to comprehensively examine internal load experienced by professional basketball players in the British Basketball League (BBL), while investigating a wearable sEMG technology for reporting a novel sEMG-based internal load metric (“Training Load”) during controlled lab-based exercise protocols, as well as determine the feasibility of the wearable sEMG-based internal load monitoring system in the professional basketball environment.

The first observational study assessed the internal load experienced by professional basketball players during an entire season in the BBL. The research used the session-rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) method for quantifying load in professional basketball players following training sessions and competition. Results show that players experience greater Weekly Load (training only) during preseason compared to the in-season phase. Weekly Load is greater in 1-game weeks compared to 2-game weeks, while Total Weekly Load (training and competition) is higher during 2-game weeks compared to 1-game weeks. In addition, starting players experience a moderately higher Total Weekly Load compared to bench players, yet playing status did not result in differences in Weekly Load. The results show variances in internal load depending on weekly game fixtures, training schedules and phases of the season. While the sRPE method provides a valid global measurement of the training session or competition, the nature of retrieving RPE’s from players by asking a question prevents deeper investigation of internal load from specific phases of play.

The second investigative study explores the possibility of using a novel wearable sEMG garment for capturing internal load (Training Load). The research investigated the sEMG derived Training Load during a 3-speed treadmill test and its relationship with oxygen consumption (V̇O2) during an exhaustive ramp incremental running treadmill test to determine maximal oxygen uptake (V̇O2max). Findings demonstrate sEMG-derived Training Load is a sensitive measure in detecting small changes in work rate during dynamic exercise, and while a moderate positive correlation between %V̇O2 max is shown, 80% of participants’ Training Loads show a very strong positive correlation at the individual level. The findings conclude that wearable sEMG technology may provide an alternative and new approach to capturing players internal load during sport and dynamic, whole-body exercise.

The third study investigates the feasibility, practicality, and acceptability of wearable sEMG technology in the professional basketball environment. Results show a high acceptance rate (seventy-five percent) of the sEMG technology amongst professional basketball players, who report they would use the wearable sEMG technology again during team basketball training. A minority of players (twenty-five percent) report they would not use the wearable sEMG technology again due to negative experiences such as, comfortability issues and perceived negative effects on performance. While the wearable sEMG technology is relatively feasible in the environment, a few practical implications are considered important for coaches to understand before use. In particular, the time taken for downloading data to report to coaching staff or players takes longer than other load monitoring systems, such as GPS. In addition, the technology is more suited to the professional environment where a kit manager takes care of the handling procedures associated with the shorts. Lastly, the Core unit attached to the shorts can interrupt training practice.

The current thesis contributes original research to the field of wearable sEMG for monitoring internal load. Findings provide important implications for practitioners endeavouring to use wearable sEMG in a professional sport context or research to further extent. Most research in basketball is conducted internationally, within Europe and America. The thesis is one of the first studies to identify internal loads in professional male basketball players within the United Kingdom. The thesis was the first to investigate an sEMG-derived Training Load during specific running tests. Lastly, the thesis was the first to assess professional athletes’ perceptions on wearable sEMG technology, highlighting reasons for and against using the technology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: Q Science > QP Physiology
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Cardiovascular & Metabolic Health
Supervisor's Name: Penpraze, Ms. Victoria and Kemi, Dr. Ole
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-83806
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2023 11:20
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2023 11:22
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.83806
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/83806

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