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Speed, Change of Direction Speed, and Reactive Agility of Rugby League Players

Gabbett, Tim J1; Kelly, Jason N2; Sheppard, Jeremy M3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2008 - Volume 22 - Issue 1 - p 174-181
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31815ef700
Original Research

While studies have investigated speed and change of direction speed in rugby league players, no study has investigated the reactive agility of these athletes. In addition, the relationship among speed, change of direction speed, and reactive agility within the specific context of rugby league has not been determined. With this in mind, the purpose of this study was to investigate a wide range of speed, change of direction speed, and reactive agility tests commonly used by rugby league coaches to determine which, if any tests discriminated higher and lesser skilled players, and to investigate the relationship among speed, change of direction speed, and reactive agility in these athletes. Forty-two rugby league players completed tests of speed (5 m, 10 m, and 20 m sprint), change of direction speed (‘L’ run, 505 test, and modified 505 test), and reactive agility. The validity of the tests to discriminate higher and lesser skilled competitors was evaluated by testing first grade (N = 12) and second grade (N = 30) players. First grade players had faster speed, and movement and decision times on the reactive agility test than second grade players. No significant differences were detected between first and second grade players for change of direction speed. While movement times on the reactive agility test were significantly related to 10 m and 20 m sprint times and change of direction speed, no significant relationships were detected among measures of decision time and response accuracy during the reactive agility test and measures of linear speed and change of direction speed. These findings question the validity of preplanned change of direction speed tests for discriminating higher and lesser skilled rugby league players, while also highlighting the contribution of perceptual skill to agility in these athletes.

1Brisbane Broncos Rugby Leaque Football Club, Brisbane, Australia; 2Runaway Bay Rugby League Football Club, Gold Coast, Australia; 3Australian Institute of Sport, Canberra, Australia

Address correspondence to Tim J. Gabbett,

© 2008 National Strength and Conditioning Association