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A sports analysis of Ireland’s defeat in World Cup warm up

The team have been deep into World-Cup preparations and it was the first game of the season for many of Schmidt’s key players and unfortunately the defeat on Saturday at Twickenham did not inspire confidence for the coming months. As well as the loss, Saturday’s match also unfortunately introduced new injury concerns for some players (i.e. Healy & Murray). England have had more game exposure in recent weeks, so the Irish side may have been considered performance-rusty, however with 29 days to go to the opener in Japan the team did not look convincing.

The Ireland players seemed frustrated and angry at the performance that Best (Captain) described as ‘not the standard we hold ourselves to.’ Ireland opened strong and were ahead approaching half time but could not respond to England’s tries in the second half. The defence looked ‘tired and heavy-legged’ according to a concerning post-match interview by Schmidt. The team had just completed an 8-day warm weather training camp in Portugal that did not seem to do much to prepare them to perform in the 30 degrees of Twickenham on Saturday. 

Warm weather training

Warm weather training is a modality used by most athletes to maximize performance capacity. There are well-researched physiological benefits to training in the heat. For example, muscle tissue responds to heat allowing more efficient warm-up, reducing risk of injury and allowing for increasing training intensity. Warm-weather training can serve to strengthen team dynamics and aid communication for teams where players are only coming together for limited periods of time (i.e. the National squad) where players often find themselves on opposing teams, as well as playing on the same competitive side.

World Cup preparation

From physiological adaptation to human dynamics and communication - performance readiness can be considered a fine-art and a balancing act. Preparing for a tournament like the World Cup that requires weeks of competition and repeat performance involves careful planning and preparation to ensure that players arrive ready to peak, with strong conditioning to keep them fit through the rounds and sustain performance despite reduced training volume and intensity during competition weeks. This level of conditioning requires pushing the body past physical limits in a controlled manner and allowing time for positive performance adaptation. Recovery and incremental progression are key factors used to promote this positive adaptation and reduce the risk of players breaking and getting injured. In addition to peak conditioning, players need tactical performance and sharpness, that is often diminished following the heavy slog of intense conditioning. It seems that this may have been the case for the team on Saturday and hopefully the remaining weeks of preparation will be spent readying the team to convert the hard training to competition performance.

What is sports analysis?

If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare teams for peak performance, you might be interested in one of our BSc Sports Performance Analysis courses. During your first year of study on the BSc Sports Performance Analysis programme you will take modules such as Human Physiology and Training Principles, that provide you with the foundational knowledge of body systems, how body systems function for sports performance and importantly how to manipulate physiological parameters for performance using appropriate, scientifically-driven training. During the second year, you go on to study how specialist performance analysis can be applied to performance sports for teams and individuals as well as learning the skills needed to become proficient in strength and conditioning and biomechanics. During the final year, you spend your time honing the professional skills you have gained by completing work-experience working in the domain in which you hope to progress.

To find out more about Portobello Institute’s BSc Sports Performance Analysis course – see here.

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