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Timothy B. Hartwig and Geraldine Naughton

Despite widespread encouragement for children to participate in sport, the efficacy of early sporting pathways remains underexplored. We compared a rotational junior-sport model combining skills from rugby, cricket, and netball with a modified games model. Motion analysis was used to quantify movement. Results revealed no differences between sporting models in relative percent time spent stationary (p = .32), walking (p = .89), jogging (p = .45), and fast running (p =.06). The rotational model had a greater number of skill-development opportunities per minute (median = 3.4) compared with the modified games model (median = 1.1, p = .001). Promising results from varied and rotational skill exposure warrant further elucidation.

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Timothy B. Hartwig, Geraldine Naughton, and John Searl

Purpose:

Investigating adolescent training loads might help us understand optimal training adaptations. GPS tracking devices and training diaries were used to quantify weekly sport and other physical activity demands placed on adolescent rugby union players and profile typical rugby training sessions.

Methods:

Participants were 75 males age 14 to 18 y who were recruited from rugby teams representing 3 levels of participation: schoolboy, national representative, and a selective sports school talent squad.

Results:

Schoolboy players covered a distance of (mean ± SD) 3511 ± 836 m, representative-squad players 3576 ± 956 m, and talent-squad players 2208 ± 637 m per rugby training session. The representative squad recorded the highest weekly duration of sport and physical activity (515 ± 222 min/wk), followed by the talent squad (421 ± 211 min/week) and schoolboy group (370 ± 135 min/wk). Profiles of individual players identified as group outliers showed participation in up to 3 games and up to 11 training sessions per week, with twice the weekly load of the team averages.

Conclusion:

Optimal participation and performance of adolescent rugby union players might be compromised by many high-load, high-impact training sessions and games and commitments to other sports and physical activities. An improved understanding of monitoring and quantifying load in adolescent athletes is needed to facilitate best-practice advice for player management and training prescription.