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  • Author: Andrew D. Townshend x
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Nick B. Murray, Tim J. Gabbett and Andrew D. Townshend

Objectives: To examine the difference between absolute and relative workloads, injury likelihood, and the acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) in elite Australian football. Design: Single-cohort, observational study. Methods: Forty-five elite Australian football players from 1 club participated. Running workloads of players were tracked using Global Positioning System technology and were categorized using either (1) absolute, predefined speed thresholds or (2) relative, individualized speed thresholds. Players were divided into 3 equal groups based on maximum velocity: (1) faster, (2) moderate, or (3) slower. One- and 4-wk workloads were calculated, along with the ACWR. Injuries were recorded if they were noncontact in nature and resulted in “time loss.” Results: Faster players demonstrated a significant overestimation of very high-speed running (HSR) when compared with their relative thresholds (P = .01; effect size = −0.73). Similarly, slower players demonstrated an underestimation of high-(P = .06; effect size = 0.55) and very-high-speed (P = .01; effect size = 1.16) running when compared with their relative thresholds. For slower players, (1) greater amounts of relative very HSR had a greater risk of injury than less (relative risk [RR] = 8.30; P = .04) and (2) greater absolute high-speed chronic workloads demonstrated an increase in injury likelihood (RR = 2.28; P = .16), whereas greater relative high-speed chronic workloads offered a decrease in injury likelihood (RR = 0.33; P = .11). Faster players with a very-high-speed ACWR of >2.0 had a greater risk of injury than those between 0.49 and 0.99 for both absolute (RR = 10.31; P = .09) and relative (RR = 4.28; P = .13) workloads. Conclusions: The individualization of velocity thresholds significantly alters the amount of very HSR performed and should be considered in the prescription of training load.

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Nick B. Murray, Tim J. Gabbett and Andrew D. Townshend

Objectives:

To investigate the relationship between the proportion of preseason training sessions completed and load and injury during the ensuing Australian Football League season.

Design:

Single-cohort, observational study.

Methods:

Forty-six elite male Australian football players from 1 club participated. Players were divided into 3 equal groups based on the amount of preseason training completed (high [HTL], >85% sessions completed; medium [MTL], 50–85% sessions completed; and low [LTL], <50% sessions completed). Global positioning system (GPS) technology was used to record training and game loads, with all injuries recorded and classified by club medical staff. Differences between groups were analyzed using a 2-way (group × training/competition phase) repeated-measures ANOVA, along with magnitude-based inferences. Injury incidence was expressed as injuries per 1000 h.

Results:

The HTL and MTL groups completed a greater proportion of in-season training sessions (81.1% and 74.2%) and matches (76.7% and 76.1%) than the LTL (56.9% and 52.7%) group. Total distance and player load were significantly greater during the first half of the in-season period for the HTL (P = .03, ES = 0.88) and MTL (P = .02, ES = 0.93) groups than the LTL group. The relative risk of injury for the LTL group (26.8/1000 h) was 1.9 times greater than that for the HTL group (14.2/1000 h) (χ2 = 3.48, df = 2, P = .17).

Conclusions:

Completing a greater proportion of preseason training resulted in higher training loads and greater participation in training and competition during the competitive phase of the season.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, David A. Greene, Rich D. Johnston and Andrew D. Townshend

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 [r s] = .52; 95% confidence interval [CI] .07–.79, P = .03) and average play-the-ball speeds (r s = .50; 95% CI .04–.78, P = .03) and negatively related to tackles that conceded offloads (r s = −.55; 95% CI −.78 to .04, P = .04). Under-the-ball tackle ability was significantly related to the proportion of dominant tackles (r s = .57; 95% CI .14–.82, P = .01) and missed tackles (r s = −.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.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, David A. Greene, Rich D. Johnston, Andrew D. Townshend and Brett O’Farrell

This study investigated the relationship between 2 tests of tackling ability, muscle strength, and power in semiprofessional rugby league players. Thirty-one players, 19 first-grade and 12 second-grade, underwent tests of muscle strength (1-repetition-maximum bench press, chin-up, and squat) and power (plyometric push-up and countermovement jump). Tackling ability was assessed via video analysis of under-and over-the-ball tackle drills. The first-grade players had significantly greater scores in both the under-the-ball (P = .03, effect size [ES] = 0.84, 95% CI 0.07–1.50) and over-the-ball tackling-ability tests (P < .001, ES =1.86, 95% CI 0.83–2.52) than the second-grade players. A large, significant relationship was found between under- and over-the-ball tackling ability (r = .55, 95% CI .24–.76, P = .001). Lower-body strength (r = .37, 95% CI .02–.64, P = .04) was moderately associated with under-the-ball tackling ability, whereas over-the-ball tackling ability was moderately associated with plyometric push-up performance (r = .39, 95% CI .04–.65, P = .03). This study found that over-the-ball tackling ability was significantly associated with under-the-ball tackling in semiprofessional rugby league players. Furthermore, it was found that, compared with the second-grade players, the first-grade players had superior tackle ability in both tackle drills. In this study it was observed that plyometric push-up peak power was significantly related to over-the-ball tackling ability and absolute lower-body strength was associated with under-the-ball tackling ability. These findings provide skill coaches and strength and conditioning staff a greater understanding of elements that contribute to effective tackling ability.