Andrew R. Thornton, Jennifer A. Bunn, FACSM. Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX.

BACKGROUND: A new competition format set forth by the National Collegiate Athletic Association in women’s lacrosse consists of four, 15-minute quarters, as opposed to two, 30-minute halves in the previous format. The purpose of this study was to compare in-game external load demands from the previous game format (2x30-minute halves) to the new format (4x15-minute quarters) in collegiate women’s lacrosse. METHODS: Participants (n = 13) were monitored with VX Sport microtechnology consisting of a global positioning system over the course of two competitive seasons. External workload variables (total distance, high-intensity distance [HID], high-intensity sprints, high-intensity sprint distance, accelerations, and decelerations) were collected per minute of play time (PT) by half (H) for year one (Y1) and by quarter (Q) for year 2 (Y2). External workload variables were compared between Y1H1 and Y2H1 (Q 1 and 2 combined), Y1H2 and Y2H2 (Q 3 and 4 combined), and Y1 to Y2 for whole game totals. Alpha level was set at 0.017. RESULTS: Results showed a higher per minute game load with Y2 compared to Y1. In H1, Y2 registered more distance (Y2: 179±37 m, Y1: 69±45 m), HID (Y2:26.4±9.8 m, Y1: 6.5±5.0 m), accelerations (Y2: 3.2±.8, Y1: 1.4±.9), and decelerations (Y2: 1.0±.3, Y2: .4±.3), all p < .001. Y2H1 was also greater in high-intensity sprints (Y2: .36±.25, Y1: .07±.06, p = .006) and high-intensity sprint distance (Y2: 13.2±8.7 m, Y1: 2.3±2.0, p = .004). Y2 was also greater in H2 for distance (Y2: 175±24 m, Y1: 109±28 m, p < .001), HID (Y2: 21.1±.6 m, Y1: 9.9±3.3 m, p < .001), high-intensity sprints (Y2: .29±.19, Y1: .11±.04, p = .003), accelerations (Y2: 2.8±.6, Y1: 2.1±.5, p = .003), decelerations (Y2: .9±.2, Y1: .5±.1, p = .001) and high-intensity sprint distance (Y2: 10.6±6.4 m, Y1: 3.7±1.4 m, p = .002). Differences were found for high-intensity sprints (Y2: .24±.3, Y1: .11±.05, p = .009) when comparing whole game totals. CONCLUSIONS: The new competitive format presented a greater demand for players, with more high-intensity efforts and a greater anaerobic demand. This change in format will shift how athletes should be trained, improving the speed of the game and potentially altering substitution strategies. Coaches can use this information as key performance indicators to develop and alter conditioning programs and drills that focus on meeting higher-intensity game demands.

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