Physiological Responses and Time-Motion Analysis of Small Combat Games in Kickboxing: Impact of Ring Size and Number of Within-Round Sparring Partners

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Ouergui, I, Houcine, N, Marzouki, H, Davis, P, Franchini, E, Gmada, N, and Bouhlel, E. Physiological responses and time-motion analysis of small combat games in kickboxing: impact of ring size and number of within-round sparring partners. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1840–1846, 2017—The study aimed to investigate the physiological responses and time-structure of small combat games (SCGs) in kickboxing according to ring sizes and number of sparring partners. Twenty athletes from regional (n = 13) and national levels (n = 7) participated in the study (mean ± SD, age: 20.3 ± 0.9 years; height: 177 ± 4.8 cm; body mass: 71.8 ± 10.5 kg). Blood lactate concentration [La] was measured before and after bouts, and the delta (Δ) was determined. Heart rate (HR) was measured throughout and HR and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were also measured postbout. The HRpre, HRmean, and percentage of peak HR (%HRpeak) were used for analysis. The HRpeak was determined during a cycle ergometer graded exercise test. Each athlete was confronted by 1 (1 vs. 1; no sparring partner change), 2 (1 vs. 2) and 4 opponents (1 vs. 4) within-round (sparring partner change every 1 minute or 30 seconds, respectively) in different ring sizes (i.e., 2×2 m, 4×4 m, and 6×6 m). All combats were recorded and analyzed to determine the duration of different activity phases (high-intensity activities [HIA], low-intensity actions [LIA], and referee pause [P]). Results showed that values for HRpre and HRmean when opposed by a single individual (1 vs. 1) were lower than other conditions (all p < 0.001). Moreover, %HRpeak values in 1 vs. 1 were lower than in other conditions and higher in 4 × 4 m compared with other sizes. [La]pre, post, and the Δ did not differ among all conditions (p > 0.05). The RPE scores were lower in 1 vs. 1 compared with other conditions (p < 0.001), with no ring sizes effect (p > 0.05). For time-motion variables, HIA values were lower in 1 vs. 1 than in the 2 other conditions and was longer in 2 × 2 m compared with 4 × 4 m and 6 × 6 m, whereas LIA values were higher in 1 vs. 1 and lower in the 2 × 2 m. In conclusion, SCGs seem to be a good form of exercise for sufficient cardiovascular conditioning specific to kickboxing activity in comparison with data from previous studies.

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