Dr Mark Russell is a Reader in Performance Nutrition and Applied Exercise Physiology at Leeds Trinity University. Dr Russell's current research interests focus primarily on the physiology of intermittent exercise and interventions to promote improvements in performance in team-sports athletes. As a result of this research, Mark has published over 60 peer-reviewed articles, presented at international conferences and led multiple industry-funded contract research projects from inception to completion. Mark also works with a range of professional clubs; including elite national and international rugby and football teams. Mark was also the National Lead for Applied Exercise Physiology with UK Deaf Sport between 2010 and 2017 and was responsible for the co-ordination of the sports science support services for DeaflympicsGB at the 2013 Summer Deaflympics held in Sofia, Bulgaria.
A number of intermittent team sports require two consecutive periods of play (lasting for ~30-45 min) separated by a 10-20 min half-time break. The half-time practices employed by team-sports players generally include returning to the changing rooms, temporarily relaxing from the cognitive and physical demands of the first half, rehydration and re-fuelling strategies, addressing injury or equipment concerns, and receiving tactical instruction and coach feedback. However, the typically passive nature of these actions has been associated with physiological changes that may impair performance during the second half; especially as indices of physical performance decline in the opening 15 min of the second half. An increased risk of injury has also been observed during this period. Therefore, half-time provides sports scientists and strength and conditioning coaches with an opportunity to optimise second-half performance. An overview of strategies thought to benefit team-sports athletes is presented; specifically, the efficacy of heat maintenance strategies (including passive and active methods), and modified hydro-nutritional practices are discussed. A theoretical model of applying these strategies in a manner that compliments current practice is also offered.