Drinking 11 Pints Before a Game Does Little to Impair Performance?

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A report has emerged today on the Daily Mail (yes it had us questioning it’s integrity as well) claiming that rugby players can drink up to 11 pints the night before the game with little to no perceived impact on their performance. The report emerged after researchers from the School of Sport and Exercise, Massey University, New Zealand, tested 19 club rugby players before and after a drinking session the night before a big game.

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The only reported impact on players was in their ability to jump at the line out as sprinting, hydration and other physical aspects remained the same throughout the game. Based on this evidence do you see yourself changing your pre-match rituals?

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You can read the full story here.

Abstract

Objectives

This study investigated the effects of acute alcohol consumption, in a natural setting, on exercise performance in the 2 days after the drinking episode. Additionally, alcohol related behaviours of this group of rugby players were identified.

Design

Prospective cohort study.

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Methods

Nineteen male club rugby players volunteered for this study. Measures of counter movement jump, maximal lower body strength, repeated sprint ability and hydration were made 2 days before and in the 2 days following heavy episodic alcohol consumption. Participants completed a questionnaire at each time point so that alcohol consumption and sleep hours from the previous 24 h period could be quantified. Additionally, participants completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Test (AUDIT) prior to completing baseline measures of performance.

Results

Reported alcohol consumption ranged from 6 to >20 standard drinks (mean category scale score = 11–19 standard drinks). A significant decrease in sleep hours (p = 0.01) was reported after the drinking episode with participants reporting 1–3 h for the night. A significant reduction (−1.8 ± 1.5 cm) in counter movement jump (p < 0.01) the morning after the drinking episode was observed; no other measures were altered at any time point compared to baseline (p > 0.05). AUDIT scores for this group (18.2 ± 4.3) indicate regular alcohol consumption at a hazardous level.

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Conclusions

Heavy episodic alcohol use, and associated reduced sleep hours, results in a reduction in lower body power output but not other measures of anaerobic performance the morning after a drinking session. Full recovery from this behaviour is achieved by 2 days post drinking episode.

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