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The Athletic Performance of Elite Rugby League Players Is Improved After an 8-Week Small-Sided Game Training Intervention

Seitz, Laurent B.1,2; Rivière, Maxence1; de Villarreal, Eduardo S.3; Haff, G. Gregory2

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 4 - p 971–975
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182a1f24a
Original Research

Abstract: Seitz, LB, Rivière, M, de Villarreal, ES, and Haff, GG. The athletic performance of elite rugby league players is improved after an 8-week small-sided game training intervention. J Strength Cond Res 28(4): 971–975, 2014—The purpose of this investigation was to determine the effects of a small-sided game training intervention on the intermittent shuttle running performance, speed, and repeated sprint ability of elite rugby league players during the competitive phase of a rugby league season. Ten elite rugby league players from a Stobart Super League team academy underwent 2 small-sided game sessions per week over an 8-week period. Each session consisted of four 10-minute blocks of 1 small-sided game, interspersed with a 3-minute recovery. Changes in physical performance were assessed before and after the training intervention with an intermittent shuttle running test (30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test), speed tests (10-, 20-, and 40-m linear sprints) and a repeated sprint ability test (8 × 20-m linear sprint, departing every 20 seconds). Results showed that the 30-15 Intermittent Fitness Test (+1.29%), 10-m (−3.17%), 20-m (−1.37%), and 40-m (−0.96%) sprint times and mean sprint time (−2.11%), total sprint time (−2.11%), and percentage of sprint decrement (7.10 vs. 5.93%) during the repeated sprint ability test were significantly improved after the training intervention. Based on these results, it was concluded that an 8-week small-sided game training intervention was an effective method for improving the physical performance of elite rugby league players during the competitive phase of the season.

1French Rugby League Academy, Toulouse, France;

2Center for Exercise and Sport Science Research, Edith Cowan University, Joondalup, Western Australia; and

3Laboratory of Human Performance, Department of Sport, University Pablo de Olavide, Seville, Spain

Address correspondence to Laurent B. Seitz,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.