Gabbett, TJ, Jenkins, DG, and Abernethy, B. Influence of wrestling on the physiological and skill demands of small-sided games. J Strength Cond Res 26(1): 113–120, 2012—This study investigated the influence of wrestling on the physiological and skill demands of small-sided games. Twenty-eight elite rugby league players ([mean ± SE] age, 21.6 ± 0.5 years) participated in this within-subject crossover study. On day 1, 14 players played 2, 8-minute small-sided games, whereas the remaining 14 players played identical games with intermittent wrestling throughout. Each game was separated by 90 seconds. On day 2, the groups were crossed over. Movement was recorded by a global positioning system unit (miniMaxX, Catapult Innovations, Melbourne, Australia), sampling at 5 Hz. Each small-sided game was filmed to track the number of possessions and the number and quality of disposals. The games without wrestling resulted in a greater (p < 0.05) total distance covered (2,475 ± 31 vs. 1,964 ± 27 m) and greater distance covered in low (930 ± 19 vs. 842 ± 19 m), moderate (1,120 ± 28 vs. 752 ± 26 m), high (332 ± 16 vs. 240 ± 12 m), and very-high (24 ± 4 vs. 15 ± 3 m) velocity movement intensities. Conversely, the games with wrestling resulted in a significantly greater (p < 0.05) distance covered in mild, moderate, and maximal accelerations and a greater number of repeated high-intensity effort bouts (2.1 ± 0.2 bouts vs. 0.2 ± 0.1 bouts). No significant differences (p > 0.05) were detected between games with and without wrestling for the total number of involvements, receives, passes, effective passes, ineffective passes, and disposal efficiency. The results of this study demonstrate that intermittent wrestling reduces the running demands but increases the repeated high-intensity effort demands of small-side games. Furthermore, these physiological changes occur without compromising the volume of skill executions, the number of errors, or disposal efficiency. From a practical perspective, these results suggest that intermittent wrestling may be a useful supplement to small-sided games to concurrently train repeated-effort ability and skills under game-specific fatigue.
1School of Exercise Science, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; 2The University of Queensland, School of Human Movement Studies, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and 3The University of Hong Kong, Institute of Human Performance, Hong Kong, China
Address correspondence to Dr. Tim J. Gabbett, firstname.lastname@example.org.