Bowling loads and injury risk in male first class county cricket: Is ‘differential load’ an alternative to the acute-to-chronic workload ratio?

Alex Tysoe, Isabel Moore, Craig Ranson, Steve McGraig, Sean Williams

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Objectives: Methodological concerns relating to acute-to-chronic workload ratios (ACWR) have been raised. This study aimed to assess the relationship between an alternative predictor variable named ‘differential load’, representing the smoothed week-to-week rate change in load, and injury risk in first class county cricket (FCCC) fast bowlers. Design: Prospective cohort study. Methods: Bowling loads and injuries were recorded for 49 professional male fast bowlers from six FCCC teams. A range of differential loads and ACWRs were calculated and subjected to a variable selection procedure. Results: Exponentially-weighted 7-day differential load, 9:21-day ACWR, 42-day chronic load, and 9-day acute load were the best-fitting predictor variables in their respective categories. From these, a generalized linear mixed-effects model combining 7-day differential load, 42-day chronic load, and 9-day acute load provided the best model fit. A two-standard deviation (2SD) increase in 7-day differential load (22 overs) was associated with a substantial increase in injury risk (risk ratio [RR] = 2.47, 90% CI: 1.27–4.80, most likely harmful), and a 2SD increase in 42-day chronic load (17.5 overs/week) was associated with a most likely harmful increase in injury risk (RR = 6.77, 90% CI: 2.15–21.33). For 9-day acute load, very low values (≤1 over/week) were associated with a most likely higher risk of injury versus moderate (17.5 overs/week; RR: 15.50, 90% CI: 6.19–38.79) and very high 9-day acute loads (45.5 overs/week; RR: 133.33, 90% CI: 25.26–703.81). Conclusions: Differential loads may be used to identify potentially harmful spikes in load, whilst mitigating methodological issues associated with ACWRs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
Early online date9 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jan 2020

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