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Damaging nature of decelerations: Do we adequately prepare players?
  1. Damian James Harper1,2,
  2. John Kiely2
  1. 1 School of Sport, York St John University, York, UK
  2. 2 Institute of Coaching and Performance, School of Sport and Wellbeing, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Damian James Harper; d.harper{at}

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An evolving understanding of match demands

Frequent and intense accelerations and decelerations are crucial elements of match play.1–4 Both accelerations and decelerations expose players to high levels of mechanical stress, are recognised as key contributors to overall biomechanical load,5 and may exert a significant impact on performance potential (eg, ability to sustain high force output and attenuation). Consequently, accelerations and decelerations are recognised as important variables to monitor.6

The use of newly available motion tracking technologies has permitted a more comprehensive characterisation of the external loads associated with whole-body biomechanical loading.6 This information can, in turn, be used to inform and refine training prescription and management processes. Although evidence suggests that the mechanical stressors imposed during accelerating and decelerating activities are fundamentally different,6 current recommendations for optimal load monitoring seemingly treat the consequences of these loads—in terms of potential tissue damage and subsequent adaptations—as equivalent.5 Evolving an optimally perceptive load monitoring paradigm, however, demands that if different loading activities impose differentially and disproportionately damaging consequences, we should identify the external loads posing the most significant threats to both performance and injury risk, and weigh them accordingly.7

The distinct demands of acceleration and deceleration

Recent match analysis data obtained from global positioning systems (GPS) and triaxial accelerometers highlight two core distinctions between accelerations and decelerations. First, when …

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