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.
Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, David A. Greene, Rich D. Johnston and Andrew D. Townshend
Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, Rich D. Johnston and Jeremy M. Sheppard
This study examined the relationships between tackling ability, playing position, muscle strength and power qualities, and match-play tackling performance in semiprofessional rugby league players.
Sixteen semiprofessional rugby league players (mean ± SD age 23.8 ± 1.9 y) underwent tests for muscle strength and power. Tackling ability of the players was tested using video analysis of a standardized 1-on-1 tackling drill. After controlling for playing position, players were divided into “good tackler” or “poor tackler” groups based on the median split of the results of the 1-on-1 tackling drill. A total of 4547 tackles were analyzed from video recordings of 23 matches played throughout the season.
Maximal squat was significantly associated with tackling ability (r S = .71, P < .05) and with the proportion of dominant tackles (r S = .63, P < .01). Forwards performed more tackles (P = .013, ES = 1.49), with a lower proportion of missed tackles (P = .03, ES = 1.38) than backs. Good tacklers were involved in a larger proportion of dominant tackles and smaller proportion of missed tackles than poor tacklers.
These findings demonstrate that lower-body strength contributes to more effective tackling performance during both a standardized tackling assessment and match play. Furthermore, players with good tackling ability in a proficiency test were involved in a higher proportion of dominant tackles and missed a smaller proportion of tackles during match play. These results provide further evidence of the practical utility of an off-field tackling assessment in supplying information predictive of tackling performance in competition.
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.