Thomas Kempton, Anita C. Sirotic and Aaron J. Coutts
To examine differences in physical and technical performance profiles using a large sample of match observations drawn from successful and less-successful professional rugby league teams.
Match activity profiles were collected using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology from 29 players from a successful rugby league team during 24 games and 25 players from a less-successful team during 18 games throughout 2 separate competition seasons. Technical performance data were obtained from a commercial statistics provider. A progressive magnitude-based statistical approach was used to compare differences in physical and technical performance variables between the reference teams.
There were no clear differences in playing time, absolute and relative total distances, or low-speed running distances between successful and less-successful teams. The successful team possibly to very likely had lower higher-speed running demands and likely had fewer physical collisions than the less-successful team, although they likely to most likely demonstrated more accelerations and decelerations and likely had higher average metabolic power. The successful team very likely gained more territory in attack, very likely had more possessions, and likely committed fewer errors. In contrast, the less-successful team was likely required to attempt more tackles, most likely missed more tackles, and very likely had a lower effective tackle percentage.
In the current study, successful match performance was not contingent on higher match running outputs or more physical collisions; rather, proficiency in technical performance components better differentiated successful and less-successful teams.
Alexandre Moreira, Tom Kempton, Marcelo Saldanha Aoki, Anita C. Sirotic and Aaron J. Coutts
To examine the impact of varying between-matches microcycles on training characteristics (ie, intensity, duration, and load) in professional rugby league players and to report on match load related to these between-matches microcycles.
Training-load data were collected during a 26-wk competition period of an entire season. Training load was measured using the session rating of perceived exertion (session-RPE) method for every training session and match from 44 professional rugby league players from the same National Rugby League team. Using the category-ratio 10 RPE scale, the training intensity was divided into 3 zones (low <4 AU, moderate ≥4-≤7 AU, and high >7 AU). Three different-length between-matches recovery microcycles were used for analysis: 5−6 d, 7−8 d, and 9−10 d.
A total of 3848 individual sessions were recorded. During the shorter-length between-matches microcycles (5−6 d), significantly lower training load was observed. No significant differences for subsequent match load or intensity were identified between the various match recovery periods. Overall, 16% of the training sessions were completed at the low-intensity zone, 61% at the moderate-intensity zone, and 23% at the high-intensity zone.
The findings demonstrate that rugby league players undertake higher training load as the length of between-matches microcycles is increased. The majority of in-season training of professional rugby league players was at moderate intensity, and a polarized approach to training that has been reported in elite endurance athletes does not occur in professional rugby league.
Thomas W.J. Lovell, Anita C. Sirotic, Franco M. Impellizzeri and Aaron J. Coutts
The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE) for monitoring training intensity in rugby league.
Thirty-two professional rugby league players participated in this study. Training-load (TL) data were collected during an entire season and assessed via microtechnology (heart-rate [HR] monitors, global positioning systems [GPS], and accelerometers) and sRPE. Within-individual correlation analysis was used to determine relationships between sRPE and various other measures of training intensity and load. Stepwise multiple regressions were used to determine a predictive equation to estimate sRPE during rugby league training.
There were significant within-individual correlations between sRPE and various other internal and external measures of intensity and load. The stepwise multiple-regression analysis also revealed that 62.4% of the adjusted variance in sRPE-TL could be explained by TL measures of distance, impacts, body load, and training impulse (y = 37.21 + 0.93 distance − 0.39 impacts + 0.18 body load + 0.03 training impulse). Furthermore, 35.2% of the adjusted variance in sRPE could be explained by exercise-intensity measures of percentage of peak HR (%HRpeak), impacts/min, m/min, and body load/min (y = −0.01 + 0.37%HRpeak + 0.10 impacts/min + 0.17 m/min + 0.09 body load/min).
A combination of internal and external TL factors predicts sRPE in rugby league training better than any individual measures alone. These findings provide new evidence to support the use of sRPE as a global measure of exercise intensity in rugby league training.