The Effect of Training Loads on Performance Measures and Injury Characteristics in Rugby League Players: A Systematic Review

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
Restricted access

Purchase article

USD  $24.95

Student 1 year subscription

USD  $107.00

1 year subscription

USD  $142.00

Student 2 year subscription

USD  $203.00

2 year subscription

USD  $265.00

Purpose: To conduct a systematic review into the effect of training load (TL) on both performance measures and injury characteristics in rugby league players. Methods: Based on PRISMA guidelines, a systematic search of electronic databases was performed from the earliest record to December 2016. Five electronic databases (MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, CINAHL, Web of Science, and AusSportMed) were searched using keywords within the subcategories of population (rugby league players), intervention (training quantification), and outcomes (performance or injury). Original peer-reviewed published manuscripts were considered if they had a clear quantification of TL (eg, session rating of perceived exertion), clear measures of performance (tests of physiological parameters relative to rugby league players [eg, agility]), and/or injury characteristics (eg, injury incidence). Results: Twelve studies met the inclusion criteria. The highest TL was observed in preseason training phases. Higher TL elicited greater improvements in maximal aerobic power, vertical jump (in cm), and agility scores (in s). Higher TL was associated with higher incidence of muscular strains and joint sprains, lower-limb injuries, and overexertion and overuse injuries. Conclusions: Findings suggest a dose–response relationship between TL, physical performance, and injury characteristics. However, due to study and methodological limitations, the precise nature of this relationship is, as yet, inconclusive. Therefore, the development of uniform TL definition and quantification and further research is warranted.

The authors are with the Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.

Booth (mark.booth@sydney.edu.au) is corresponding author.
  • 1.

    Wilson GJ, Newton RU, Murphy AJ, Humphries BJ. The optimal training load for the development of dynamic athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993;25(11):12791286. PubMed ID: 8289617 doi:10.1249/00005768-199311000-00013

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 2.

    Banister EW, Calvert TW. Planning for future performance: implications for long term training. Can J Appl Sport Sci. 1981;5(3):170176. PubMed ID: 6778623

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 3.

    Schmikli SL, de Vries WR, Brink MS, Backx FJ. Monitoring performance, pituitary–adrenal hormones and mood profiles: how to diagnose non-functional over-reaching in male elite junior soccer players. Br J Sports Med. 2012;46(14):10191023. PubMed ID: 22171342 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090492

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 4.

    Wilson F, Gissane C, McGregor A. Ergometer training volume and previous injury predict back pain in rowing; strategies for injury prevention and rehabilitation. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(21):15341537. PubMed ID: 25257230 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2014-093968

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 5.

    Drew MK, Finch CF. The relationship between training load and injury, illness and soreness: a systematic and literature review. Sports Med. 2016;46(6):861883. PubMed ID: 26822969 doi:10.1007/s40279-015-0459-8

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 6.

    Vetter RE, Symonds ML. Correlations between injury, training intensity, and physical and mental exhaustion among college athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(3):587596. PubMed ID: 20145559 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181c7c2eb

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 7.

    Gabbett TJ, Domrow N. Risk factors for injury in subelite rugby league players. Am J Sports Med. 2005;33(3):428434. PubMed ID: 15716260 doi:10.1177/0363546504268407

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 8.

    Gabbett TJ. The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(5):273280. PubMed ID: 26758673 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095788

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 9.

    Selye H. The general-adaptation-syndrome. Annu Rev Med. 1951;2:327342. PubMed ID: 14847556 doi:10.1146/annurev.me.02.020151.001551

  • 10.

    Gabbett T, King T, Jenkins D. Applied physiology of rugby league. Sports Med. 2008;38(2):119138. PubMed ID: 18201115 doi:10.2165/00007256-200838020-00003

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 11.

    NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre. A Profile of Hospitalisations and Deaths Due to Sport and Leisure Injuries in New South Wales, 2000–2004. Sydney, Australia: NSW Injury Risk Management Research Centre; 2006.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 12.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics. National Health Survey: Injuries, Australia 2001. Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of Statistics; 2003.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 13.

    Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australian Sports Injury Hospitalisations 2011–2012. Canberra, Australia: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare; 2014.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 14.

    Gabbett TJ. Incidence of injury in semi-professional rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2003;37(1):3643. PubMed ID: 12547741

  • 15.

    Gabbett TJ. Influence of training and match intensity on injuries in rugby league. J Sports Sci. 2004;22(5):409417. PubMed ID: 15160594 doi:10.1080/02640410310001641638

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 16.

    Gabbett TJ, Domrow N. Relationships between training load, injury, and fitness in sub-elite collision sport athletes. J Sports Sci. 2007;25(13):15071519. PubMed ID: 17852696 doi:10.1080/02640410701215066

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 17.

    Gabbett TJ. Reductions in pre-season training loads reduce training injury rates in rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2004;38(6):743749. doi:10.1136/bjsm.2003.008391

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 18.

    Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG. Relationship between training load and injury in professional rugby league players. J Sci Med Sport. 2011;14(3):204209. PubMed ID: 21256078 doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2010.12.002

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 19.

    Johnston RJ, Watsford ML, Austin DJ, Pine MJ, Spurrs RW. An examination of the relationship between movement demands and rating of perceived exertion in Australian footballers. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(7):20262033. PubMed ID: 25559909 doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000816

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 20.

    Clarke N, Farthing JP, Norris SR, Arnold BE, Lanovaz JL. Quantification of training load in Canadian football: application of session-RPE in collision-based team sports. J Strength Cond Res. 2013;27(8):21982205. PubMed ID: 23222076 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e31827e1334

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 21.

    Garcia-Ramos A, Feriche B, Calderon C, et al. Training load quantification in elite swimmers using a modified version of the training impulse method. Eur J Sport Sci. 2015;15(2):8593. PubMed ID: 24942164 doi:10.1080/17461391.2014.922621

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 22.

    Saboul D, Balducci P, Millet G, Pialoux V, Hautier C. A pilot study on quantification of training load: the use of HRV in training practice. Eur J Sport Sci. 2016;16(2):172181. doi:10.1080/17461391.2015.1004373

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 23.

    Ritchie D, Hopkins WG, Buchheit M, Cordy J, Bartlett JD. Quantification of training and competition load across a season in an elite Australian football club. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2016;11(4):474479. doi:10.1123/ijspp.2015-0294

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 24.

    Malone JJ, Di Michele R, Morgans R, Burgess D, Morton JP, Drust B. Seasonal training-load quantification in elite English Premier League soccer players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(4):489497. PubMed ID: 25393111 doi:10.1123/ijspp.2014-0352

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 25.

    White AD, MacFarlane NG. Analysis of international competition and training in men’s field hockey by global positioning system and inertial sensor technology. J Strength Cond Res. 2015;29(1):137143. PubMed ID: 24978837 doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000600

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 26.

    Gabbett TJ. The development and application of an injury prediction model for noncontact, soft-tissue injuries in elite collision sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(10):25932603. PubMed ID: 20847703 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181f19da4

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 27.

    Gabbett TJ, Ullah S. Relationship between running loads and soft-tissue injury in elite team sport athletes. J Strength Cond Res. 2012;26(4):953960. PubMed ID: 22323001 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182302023

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 28.

    Messonnier L, Aranda-Berthouze SE, Bourdin M, Bredel Y, Lacour JR. Rowing performance and estimated training load. Int J Sports Med. 2005;26(5):376382. PubMed ID: 15895321 doi:10.1055/s-2004-821051

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 29.

    Murphy AP, Duffield R, Kellett A, Reid M. The relationship of training load to physical-capacity changes during international tours in high-performance junior tennis players. Int J Sports Physiol Perform. 2015;10(2):253260. PubMed ID: 25117429 doi:10.1123/ijspp.2014-0038

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 30.

    Gil-Rey E, Lezaun A, Los Arcos A. Quantification of the perceived training load and its relationship with changes in physical fitness performance in junior soccer players. J Sports Sci. 2015;33(20):21252132. PubMed ID: 26222603 doi:10.1080/02640414.2015.1069385

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 31.

    Nunes JA, Moreira A, Crewther BT, Nosaka K, Viveiros L, Aoki MS. Monitoring training load, recovery-stress state, immune-endocrine responses, and physical performance in elite female basketball players during a periodized training program. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(10):29732980. PubMed ID: 24736768 doi:10.1519/JSC.0000000000000499

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 32.

    Toubekis AG, Drosou E, Gourgoulis V, Thomaidis S, Douda H, Tokmakidis SP. Competitive performance, training load and physiological responses during tapering in young swimmers. J Hum Kinet. 2013;38:125134. PubMed ID: 24233022 doi:10.2478/hukin-2013-0052

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 33.

    Balsalobre-Fernandez C, Tejero-Gonzalez CM, del Campo-Vecino J. Relationships between training load, salivary cortisol responses and performance during season training in middle and long distance runners. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(8):106066. PubMed ID: 25153137 doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0106066

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 34.

    Gabbett TJ. Performance changes following a field conditioning program in junior and senior rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2006;20(1):215221. PubMed ID: 16503683

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 35.

    Gabbett TJ. Physiological and anthropometric characteristics of junior rugby league players over a competitive season. J Strength Cond Res. 2005;19(4):764771. PubMed ID: 16287345

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 36.

    Gabbett TJ. Changes in physiological and anthropometric characteristics of rugby league players during a competitive season. J Strength Cond Res. 2005;19(2):400408. PubMed ID: 15903382

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 37.

    Liberati A, Altman DG, Tetzlaff J, et al. The PRISMA statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: explanation and elaboration. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7):e1000100. PubMed ID: 19621070 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000100

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 38.

    Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Lawson DW, Caputi P, Sampson JA. The acute:chronic workload ratio predicts injury: high chronic workload may decrease injury risk in elite rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(4):231236. PubMed ID: 26511006 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-094817

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 39.

    Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Caputi P, Lawson DW, Sampson JA. Low chronic workload and the acute:chronic workload ratio are more predictive of injury than between-match recovery time: a two-season prospective cohort study in elite rugby league players. Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(16):10081012. PubMed ID: 26851288 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2015-095364

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 40.

    Killen NM, Gabbett TJ, Jenkins DG. Training loads and incidence of injury during the preseason in professional rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res. 2010;24(8):20792084. PubMed ID: 20613646 doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181ddafff

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 41.

    Downs S, Black N. The feasibility of creating a checklist for the assessment of the methodological quality both of randomised and non-randomised studies of health care interventions. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1998;52(6):377384. PubMed ID: 9764259 doi:10.1136/jech.52.6.377

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 42.

    Timpka T, Jacobsson J, Bickenbach J, Finch CF, Ekberg J, Nordenfelt L. What is a sports injury? Sports Med. 2014;44(4):423428. PubMed ID: 24469737 doi:10.1007/s40279-014-0143-4

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 43.

    King DA, Hume PA, Milburn PD, Guttenbeil D. Match and training injuries in rugby league: a review of published studies. Sports Med. 2010;40(2):163178. PubMed ID: 20092367 doi:10.2165/11319740-000000000-00000

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 44.

    Moher D, Liberrati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG; PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7):e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed1000097

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 45.

    Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Blanch P, Chapman P, Bailey D, Orchard JW. Spikes in acute workload are associated with increased injury risk in elite cricket fast bowlers. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(8):708712. PubMed ID: 23962877 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013-092524

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 46.

    Booth M, Orr R, Cobley S. Call for coordinated and systematic training load measurement (and progression) in athlete development: a conceptual model with practical steps. Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(7):559560. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2016-096358

    • Crossref
    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • 47.

    Jacobson BH. Comparison of allometric scaling methods for normalizing strength, power, and speed in American football players. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2015;55(6):684690. PubMed ID: 26793804

    • PubMed
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 320 290 11
Full Text Views 36 34 0
PDF Downloads 25 23 0