Relationship Between 2 Standardized Tackling Proficiency Tests and Rugby League Match-Play Tackle Performance

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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This study investigated the relationship between 2 different assessments of tackling ability, physical qualities, and match-play performance in semiprofessional rugby league players. A total of 18 semiprofessional rugby league players (mean [SD]: age = 23.1 [2.0] y and body mass = 98.8 [11.8] kg) underwent tests of upper- and lower-body strength and power. Tackling ability was assessed using video analysis of under- and over-the-ball tackle drills. A total of 2360 tackles were analyzed from match play. Over-the-ball tackle ability was positively related to the proportion of dominant tackles (Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients [rs] = .52; 95% confidence interval [CI] .07–.79, P = .03) and average play-the-ball speeds (rs = .50; 95% CI .04–.78, P = .03) and negatively related to tackles that conceded offloads (rs = −.55; 95% CI −.78 to .04, P = .04). Under-the-ball tackle ability was significantly related to the proportion of dominant tackles (rs = .57; 95% CI .14–.82, P = .01) and missed tackles (rs = −.48; 95% CI −.77 to .02, P = .05). Good over-the-ball tacklers performed proportionally more dominant tackles, allowed significantly fewer offloads, and had longer average play-the-ball speeds. Good under-the-ball tacklers missed proportionately fewer tackles. This study suggests that both the under-the-ball and over-the-ball standardized tackle assessments are associated with varying indicators of match-play tackle performance and justifies the practical utility of these tests to assess and develop both types of tackles.

Speranza, Johnston, and Townshend are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Gabbett is with Gabbett Performance Solutions, Brisbane, QLD, Australia, and the Inst for Resilient Regions, University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich, QLD, Australia. Greene is with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, NSW,Australia.

Speranza (mjsper001@myacu.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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