Considerations when assessing endurance in combat sport athletes

Posted on August 12, 2019 by in Research

The purpose of this review is to provide a critical appraisal of the current methods of assessing physical capacities in combat sports with a focus on endurance ability in an effort to help develop best practice guidelines.

  • Endurance is a complicated characteristic comprised of many factors and cannot be comprehensively evaluated with a single test.
  • A combination of assessments designed to simulate aspects of performance will provide the most complete picture of combat sport endurance ability.
  • Future research should investigate the potential impact that fatigue may have on combat sports-specific techniques and how such changes may influence assessments of endurance.

Combat sports encompass a range of sports, each involving physical combat between participants. Such sports are unique, with competitive success influenced by a diverse range of physical characteristics. Effectively identifying and evaluating each characteristic is essential for athletes and support staff alike. Previous research investigating the relationship between combat sports performance and measures of strength and power is robust.

However, research investigating the relationship between combat sports performance and assessments of endurance is less conclusive. As a physical characteristic, endurance is complex and influenced by multiple factors including mechanical efficiency, maximal aerobic capacity, metabolic thresholds, and anaerobic capacities. To assess endurance of combat sports athletes, previous research has employed methods ranging from incremental exercise tests to circuits involving sports-specific techniques. These tests range in their ability to discern various physiological attributes or performance characteristics, with varying levels of accuracy and ecological validity. In fact, it is unclear how various physiological attributes influence combat sport endurance performance.

Further, the sensitivity of sports specific skills in performance based tests is also unclear. When developing or utilizing tests to better understand an athletes’ combat sports-specific endurance characteristic, it is important to consider what information the test will and will not provide. Additionally, it is important to determine which combination of performance and physiological assessments will provide the most comprehensive picture. Strengthening the understanding of assessing combat sport-specific endurance as a physiological process and as a performance metric will improve the quality of future research and help support staff effectively monitor their athlete’s characteristics.


Full reference and abstract:

Barley, O. R., Chapman, D. W., Guppy, S. N. & Abbiss, C. R. (2019). Considerations when assessing endurance in combat sport athletes. Frontiers in Physiology. 10:205.

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