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Strength, Speed and Power Characteristics of Elite Rugby League Players

de Lacey, James1; Brughelli, Matt E.1; McGuigan, Michael R.1,2; Hansen, Keir T.1

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: August 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 8 - p 2372–2375
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000397
Research Note

Abstract: de Lacey, J, Brughelli, ME, McGuigan, MR, and Hansen, KT. Strength, Speed and power characteristics of elite rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 28(8): 2372–2375, 2014—The purpose of this article was to compare strength, speed, and power characteristics between playing position (forwards and backs) in elite rugby league players. A total of 39 first team players (height, 183.8 ± 5.95 cm; body mass, 100.3 ± 10.7 kg; age, 24 ± 3 years) from a National Rugby League club participated in this study. Testing included 10-, 40-m sprint times, sprint mechanics on an instrumented nonmotorized treadmill, and concentric isokinetic hip and knee extension and flexion. Backs, observed to have significantly (p ≤ 0.05) lighter body mass (effect size [ES] = 0.98), were significantly faster (10-m ES = 1.26; 40-m ES = 1.61) and produced significantly greater relative horizontal force and power (ES = 0.87 and 1.04) compared with forwards. However, no significant differences were found between forwards and backs during relative isokinetic knee extension, knee flexion, relative isokinetic hip extension, flexion, prowler sprints, sprint velocity, contact time, or flight time. The findings demonstrate that backs have similar relative strength in comparison with forwards, but run faster overground and produce significantly greater relative horizontal force and power when sprinting on a nonmotorized instrumented treadmill. Developing force and power in the horizontal direction may be beneficial for improving sprint performance in professional rugby league players.

1Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand

2School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

Address correspondence to James de Lacey,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.