Success in rugby league football seems heavily reliant on players possessing an adequate degree of various physical fitness qualities, such as strength, power, speed, agility, and endurance, as well as the individual skills and team tactical abilities. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare the lower body strength, power, acceleration, maximal speed, agility, and sprint momentum of elite first-division national rugby league (NRL) players (n = 20) to second-division state league (SRL) players (n = 20) players from the same club. Strength and maximal power were the best discriminators of which players were in the NRL or SRL squads. None of the sprinting tests, such as acceleration (10-m sprint), maximal speed (40-m sprint), or a unique 40-m agility test, could distinguish between the NRL or SRL squads. However, sprint momentum, which was a product of 10-m velocity and body mass, was better for discriminating between NRL and SRL players as heavier, faster players would possess better drive forward and conversely be better able to repel their opponents'drive forward. Strength and conditioning specialists should therefore pay particular attention to increasing lower body strength and power and total body mass through appropriate resistance training while maintaining or improving 10-m sprint speed to provide their players with the underlying performance characteristics of play at the elite level in rugby leagues.
Edith Cowan University, School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Joondulup, Australia
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