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  • Author: Michael J.A. Speranza x
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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 [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.

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Michael J.A. Speranza, Tim J. Gabbett, Rich D. Johnston and Jeremy M. Sheppard

Purpose:

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.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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.

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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.