Positional Differences in External On-Field Load During Specific Drill Classifications Over a Professional Rugby League Preseason

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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To quantify the external training loads of positional groups in preseason training drills.


Thirty-three elite rugby league players were categorized into 1 of 4 positional groups: outside backs (n = 9), adjustables (n = 9), wide-running forwards (n = 9), and hit-up forwards (n = 6). Data for 8 preseason weeks were collected using microtechnology devices. Training drills were classified based on drill focus: speed and agility, conditioning, and generic and positional skills.


Total, high-speed, and very-high-speed distance decreased across the preseason in speed and agility (moderate, small, and small, respectively), conditioning (large, large, and small) and generic skills (large, large, and large). The duration of speed and generic skills also decreased (77% and 48%, respectively). This was matched by a concomitant increase in total distance (small), high-speed running (small), very-high-speed running (moderate), and 2-dimensional (2D) BodyLoad (small) demands in positional skills. In positional skills, hit-up forwards (1240 ± 386 m) completed less very-high-speed running than outside backs (2570 ± 1331 m) and adjustables (2121 ± 1163 m). Hit-up forwards (674 ± 253 AU) experienced greater 2D BodyLoad demands than outside backs (432 ± 230 AU, P = .034). In positional drills, hit-up forwards experienced greater relative 2D BodyLoad demands than outside backs (P = .015). Conversely, outside backs experienced greater relative high- (P = .007) and very-high-speed-running (P < .001) demands than hit-up forwards.


Significant differences were observed in training loads between positional groups during positional skills but not in speed and agility, conditioning, and generic skills. This work also highlights the importance of different external-load parameters to adequately quantify workload across different positional groups.

Cummins, Halaki, and Orr are with the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia. McLean is with the Physical Performance Dept, Wests Tigers Rugby League Football Club, Sydney, Australia.

Cummins (cloe.cummins@sydney.edu.au) is corresponding author.