Training Practices of Academy Rugby League and their Alignment to Physical Qualities Deemed Important for Current and Future Performance
Published on May 13, 2020in International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching
· DOI :10.1177/1747954120924905
This study aimed to investigate rugby league coaches’ perceptions of physical qualities for current and future performance, while also establishing the training practices of Under-16 and Under-19 players. Twenty-four practitioners (rugby coach, strength and conditioning coach) working within nine Super League clubs completed a questionnaire. The questionnaire required practitioners to rank eleven physical qualities (i.e., strength, power, acceleration, maximum speed, aerobic endurance, change of direction, agility, height, body mass, lean mass and fat mass) by importance for current performance, future performance and career longevity according to playing position (forwards, backs, hookers & halves). Practitioners were asked to provide detail on the frequency and duration of each type of training session completed during a typical week throughout each phase of the season; pre-season, in-season (early), in-season (mid), and in-season (late). Typically, practitioners ranked strength, power and acceleration qualities highest, and endurance and anthropometric qualities lowest. The importance of physical qualities varied according to each playing level and position. Training practices of U16 and U19 players differed during each phase of the season, with U19 players undertaking greater training volumes than U16s players. Overall, the physical qualities coaches perceived as most important were not reflected within their training practices. Rugby league practitioners can use this information as a reference source to design long term athletic development plans, prescribe training and during player development procedures. Moreover, these data can inform and improve training practices while influencing the design of pre-season preparatory phases and in-season periods.