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Touch & the Energy Systems

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1.0 Introduction

The human body operate on three energy systems: Phosphate Energy System, (ATP/CP or CP SPLITTING), Lactic Acid Energy System (Anaerobic Glycolysis) and Aerobic Energy System (Oxygen System). ATP is when an enzyme splits one of the three phosphate molecules from Adenosine Triphosphate and this releases large amounts of energy that the muscle fibres use to create movement, this turns ATP into Adenosine di-phosphate (ADP), However, only a small amount of ATP is stored within the muscles cells, about 10-15 seconds and takes 2-3 minutes to fully replenish. When ATP is depleted the body turn to anaerobic Glycolysis for energy. This process breaks down glycogen and glucose (Sugar and Fat) to produce energy. This process creates a by-product called ‘pyruvic acid’ which converts into lactic acid if there is insufficient oxygen circulating in the muscles.

If Lactic acid accumulates, the process of anaerobic glycolysis slows down, resulting in fatigue. This energy system takes 20-60 minutes depending on the fitness level to remove the accumulated lactic acid after maximal exercise. The third energy system is a much slower process of collecting energy, however; the energy produced lasts longer than the other two energy systems, and therefore it is responsible for providing energy for activities that last longer than three minutes.

This process happens through aerobic breathing, where pyruvic acid produced by glycolysis is turned into more energy before it is turned into lactic acid. However, for this process to happen the heart and lungs must deliver enough oxygen for the body to continue supplying energy. As long as the on-board supply of glucose and glycogen (derived from carbohydrates, fat and protein) lasts, aerobic energy system will continue to provide a long lasting energy mechanism. (Unit 2 – Processes & Effects of Training & Exercise)

2.0 Energy Systems used in Touch

In the game of touch, the position of the player determines how much energy is needed and what energy system is available to facilitate the demand. On the heart rate graph of Brown & Green, Brown plays as wing for 15 minutes with his heart rate starting at just above 100 and increasing up to over 150, we can conclude that Brown was having a fairly relaxed time keeping up with the middles. However, just at the end of the 15 minutes it seemed that Brown’s heart rate suddenly spikes to 160 where he might’ve gotten a breakthrough on the side. He was then given 10 minutes of rest before playing in the middle.

For 15 minutes in the middle, Browns heart rate had surpassed his heart rate while playing as Wing with several instances where his heart rate had spiked well over 200 where he would’ve made a break through or switched the ball to the side. Greens Graph provides evidence that playing in the middle offer for a higher heart rate (Bpm). This is because the middle is where most of the action happens; the players are constantly going up anaerobically.

According to Unit 2 – Processes & Effects of Training & Exercise, 80% of the game at or above anaerobic threshold are in the (middles), 60% at or above anaerobic threshold are in the (links) while 52% at or above anaerobic threshold are in the (Wing). Therefore in by analysing greens graph and the data from Bell & Carroll, middles operate at higher heart rates than wingers, and thus rely on a greater contribution from anaerobic systems.

2.1 Fatigue and Performance during touch

The consequence of lactic acid build-up is that the muscles are unable to contract, so the activity must be stopped or the performance intensity must be reduced significantly to a level at or below 60 per cent of maximum heart rate (Unit 2 – Processes & Effects of Training & Exercise, Fatigue & Recovery). Lactic acid accumulation occurs when the body is unable to supply sufficient oxygen to meet the demand of the activity. This causes the body to turn to alternative energy systems to compensate for the shortage of oxygen, such as the aerobic system. Due to the limited availability of oxygen, pyruvic acid which is the by-product of anaerobic Glycolysis is converter to lactic acid causing fatigue to the player. Fatigue varies on the intensity of the activity undertaken, and the fitness level of the performer. Signs of fatigue are usually shown in a physiological way.

When fatigue is developed, the performer may experience soreness or pain in the muscle that has been predominantly working to perform the task. Another way in which fatigue exists is mentally, this is the drained feeling felt at the end of a prolonged exercise bout. When using the lactic acid system, the body cannot maintain the same high-intensity activity, thus performance becomes noticeably harder, which is bad because it limits the performance of the player. This statement is supported in Green’s graph; it is evident that in the first 15 minutes of playing in the middle, just before the 10 minute mark, Greens Bpm had a stable peak.

However, after the 10 minute mark we can conclude that Green is feeling the fatigue of lactic acid build-up due to the fact that the peaks at the end of the 10 minute mark looks unstable; his heart rate is immediately lowered after an intense action. Therefore sufficient evidence can be analysed from the graph to support the statement that, the build-up of lactic acid affects the performance of the player, limiting their capabilities. Recovery time is needed to compensate for the lactic acid build up; which is the result of fatigue.

3.0 Recommendations – Tactics / Strategies

As the St Mary’s Open Touch Coach I must first understand the functions of energy systems. Knowing how much a player can withstand a position on the field, before their ATP and anaerobic glycolysis energy system is depleted is essential for success. To minimise as well as equalise work load, a strategy that can be used is arrowing the side line a few times before splitting the ball to the other side. A defensive strategy in touch, when an area is constantly being arrowed is for the player to make the touch, while the player next to him commits the next touch… and so forth.

To maximise the performance of players, regular substitutions; especially players In the middle should be made, taking into consideration that ATP is a short burst of energy lasting for a maximum of 15 seconds and at least 2 minutes to replenish, meanwhile anaerobic glycolysis takes at least 20 minutes to remove lactic acid build-up. Since Touch Football uses mainly the ATP and anaerobic glycolysis energy system, training methods that increase recovery rate of these energy systems should be implemented, such as: Suicides, short burst sprint; Focusing on the ability to exert explosive force, speed, agility and coordination.

4.0 Conclusion

Given the fact that fatigue dictates the performance of a player, regular interchange especially those playing in the middle should be made to reduce errors. During the interchange, the players are in the state of recovery, a piece of banana contains certain minerals that restore and enhance muscle function (Banana – the perfect energy source « Workoutdays. 2012), therefore making it perfect for restoring optimal glycogen levels in the muscles. Essentially, by maintaining the performance level of players and allowing for energy systems, fluids and fat stores to replenish; the result will lead to a better standard of play.

5.0 Biography

Insel, P. & Roth, W. 1999, Core Concepts of Physical Education, Mayfield Books, California. Unit 2 – Processes & Effects of Training & Exercise Touch Football Australia: Fitness for Touch. 2012. Touch Football Australia: Fitness for Touch. [ONLINE] Available
at:http://www.austouch.com.au/index.php?id=629. [Accessed 04 June 2012]. Banana – the perfect energy source « Workoutdays. 2012. Banana – the perfect energy source « Workoutdays. [ONLINE] Available at:http://workoutdays.com/2011/02/08/banana-the-perfect-energy-source/.[Accessed 05 June 2012]. Professional Touch Football Training Programs | Touch Football Fitness & Skill Exercises. 2012. Professional Touch Football Training Programs | Touch Football Fitness & Skill Exercises. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.protrainingprograms.com/training-programs/touch-football/. [Accessed 07 June 2012].


Refer to Unit 2 – Processes & Effects of Training & Exercise: Brown and Green’s Graph Results by Peter Bell & Patrick Caroll, 1996

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