Summary: Alex X. Martínez
Reference: Croft, L., Dybrus, S., Lenton, J., & Goosey-Tolfrey, V. (2010). A comparison of the physiological demands of wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis. International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance, 5(3), 301.
Wheelchair basketball and tennis involve and engage the aerobic system through short bouts of high-intensity, intermittent activity. In order to prescribe optimal training, coaches need to understand the physiological demands of the sport. Extensive research has demonstrated that heart rate (HR) and blood lactate [Bla–] have been used to prescribe training in participants without a disability. This study examined potential physiological profile differences between wheelchair basketball and tennis players, possible differences in the physiological demands of both sports, the relationship between [Bla–] and exercise, and specific HR training zones for each sport.
Elite wheelchair basketball and tennis athletes were matched on playing ability, trunk mobility, and classification according to the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) in order to make the comparisons between both groups. During a laboratory assessment, participants completed an incremental submaximal test (treadmill) and an incremental gradient test to volitional fatigue. Assessment of HR, [Bla–], peak oxygen uptake (VO2peak), and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) were derived from these tests. Assessment of HR and HR peak was recorded during live games for both sports. The time spent by the athletes during actual plays was calculated by recording game starting time and substitutions/timeouts.
There were no differences for the groups in age, body mass, hours of training per week or years playing wheelchair sports. There was also no difference in the laboratory assessment for HR peak. However, HR was significantly higher at lactate threshold (LT, P = 0.02) and lactate turning point (LTP, P = .006), and VO2 trended higher (P = .06) at LTP in basketball players compared with tennis players. The VO2peak was higher for the basketball players when compared with the tennis players (2.98 ± 0.91 vs 2.06 ± 0.71; P = .08). Average match HR (163 ± 11 vs 146 ± 16 beats?min–1; P = .06) and average VO2 (2.26 ± 0.06 vs 1.36 ± 0.42 L?min?1; P = .02) were higher during actual playing time for basketball when compared with whole tennis play. There were also differences in time spent in different training zones between both sports.
This study demonstrated that wheelchair basketball players have higher aerobic capacities when compared with tennis players of similar playing experience. According to the HR profile during match play, wheelchair basketball players would benefit from high intensity training, while training for tennis players should cover the exercise intensity continuum.