Defining the Volume and Intensity of Sport Participation in Adolescent Rugby Union Players

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose:

Investigating adolescent training loads might help us understand optimal training adaptations. GPS tracking devices and training diaries were used to quantify weekly sport and other physical activity demands placed on adolescent rugby union players and profile typical rugby training sessions.

Methods:

Participants were 75 males age 14 to 18 y who were recruited from rugby teams representing 3 levels of participation: schoolboy, national representative, and a selective sports school talent squad.

Results:

Schoolboy players covered a distance of (mean ± SD) 3511 ± 836 m, representative-squad players 3576 ± 956 m, and talent-squad players 2208 ± 637 m per rugby training session. The representative squad recorded the highest weekly duration of sport and physical activity (515 ± 222 min/wk), followed by the talent squad (421 ± 211 min/week) and schoolboy group (370 ± 135 min/wk). Profiles of individual players identified as group outliers showed participation in up to 3 games and up to 11 training sessions per week, with twice the weekly load of the team averages.

Conclusion:

Optimal participation and performance of adolescent rugby union players might be compromised by many high-load, high-impact training sessions and games and commitments to other sports and physical activities. An improved understanding of monitoring and quantifying load in adolescent athletes is needed to facilitate best-practice advice for player management and training prescription.

Hartwig and Naughton are with the School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia. Searl is with Australian Rugby Union, St Leonards, NSW, Australia.