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James P. Veale, Alan J. Pearce and John S. Carlson

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to test the reliability and construct validity of a reactive agility test (RAT), designed for Australian Football (AF).

Methods:

Study I tested the reliability of the RAT, with 20 elite junior AF players (17.44 ± 0.55 y) completing the test on two occasions separated by 1 wk. Study II tested its construct validity by comparing the performance of 60 participants (16.60 ± 0.50 y) spread over three aged-matched population groups: 20 athletes participating in a State Under-18 AF league who had represented their state at national competitions (elite), 20 athletes participating in the same league who had not represented their state (subelite), and 20 healthy males who did not play AF (controls).

Results:

Test-retest reliability reported a strong correlation (0.91), with no significant difference (P = .22) between the mean results (1.74 ± 0.07 s and 1.76 ± 0.07 s) obtained (split 2+3). Nonparametric tests (Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney) revealed both AF groups performed significantly faster on all measures than the control group (ranging from P = .001 to .005), with significant differences also reported between the two AF groups (ranging from P = .001 to .046). Stepwise discriminant analyses found total time discriminated between the groups, correctly classifying 75% of the participants.

Conclusions:

The RAT used within this study demonstrates evidence of reliability and construct validity. It further suggests the ability of a reactive component within agility test designs to discriminate among athletes of different competition levels, highlighting its importance within training activities.

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James P. Veale, Alan J. Pearce, David Buttifant and John S. Carlson

Purpose:

Body structure and physical development must be addressed when preparing junior athletes for their first season in a senior competition. The aim of this preliminary study was to measure the extent of the assumption that final year junior Australian Football (AF) athletes are at a physical mismatch to their senior counterparts.

Methods:

Twenty-one male participants (17.71 ± 0.27 y) were recruited from one state based elite junior AF competition and forty-one male participants (22.80 ± 4.24 y) were recruited from one club competing in the senior elite Australian Football League (AFL), who were subsequently divided into two groups; professional rookies aged 18-20 y (19.44 ± 0.70 y; n = 18) and professional seniors aged 21+ y (25.43 ± 3.98 y; n = 23). Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans of all participants were completed.

Results:

Despite being an average 6.0% and 6.1% lighter in total weight and lean mass respectively, no significant difference was found between the elite junior athletes and their professional AFL rookie counterparts. However, significant differences were demonstrated in comparison with the professional AFL senior athletes (P < .01). Both professional AFL groups demonstrated greater than 0.3 kg total bone mineral content (BMC) than the elite junior athletes (P < .01) and significantly greater segmental BMC and bone mineral density (BMD) results (P < .05).

Conclusion:

While the results identify the differences in body composition of the elite junior athletes, development in a linear fashion is noted, providing useful information for the creation of age appropriate expectations and training programs.