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Differences in the Movement Skills and Physical Qualities of Elite Senior and Academy Rugby League Players

Ireton, Matthew R.E.1,2; Till, Kevin1,2; Weaving, Dan1,2; Jones, Ben1,3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: May 2019 - Volume 33 - Issue 5 - p 1328–1338
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002016
Original Research

Ireton, MRE, Till, K, Weaving, D, and Jones, B. Differences in the movement skills and physical qualities of elite senior and academy rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 33(5): 1328–1338, 2019—The aim of this study was to investigate (a) the differences in the movement skills and physical qualities between academy and senior rugby league players and (b) the relationships between movement skills and physical qualities. Fifty-five male rugby league players (Senior, n = 18; Under 19 n = 23; Under 16, n = 14) undertook a physical testing battery, including anthropometric (stature and body mass), strength (isometric midthigh pull; IMTP), and power (countermovement jump; CMJ) qualities, alongside the athletic ability assessment (AAA; comprised of overhead squat, double lunge, single-leg Romanian deadlift, press-up, and pull-up exercises). Univariate analysis of variance demonstrated significant (p < 0.001) differences in body mass, IMTP peak force, CMJ mean power, and AAA movement skills between groups. The greatest observed differences for total movement skills, peak force, and mean power were identified between Under 16 and 19 academy age groups. Spearman's rank correlation coefficients demonstrated a significant moderate (r = 0.31) relationship between peak force and total movement skills. Furthermore, trivial (r = 0.01) and small (r = 0.13; r = 0.22) relationships were observed between power qualities and total movement skills. These findings highlight that both movement skills and physical qualities differentiate between academy age groups, and provides comparative data for English senior and academy rugby league players.

1Carnegie School of Sport, Institute for Sport, Physical Activity and Leisure, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, United Kingdom;

2Leeds Rhinos Rugby League Club, Leeds, United Kingdom; and

3The Rugby Football League, Leeds, United Kingdom

Address correspondence to Matthew R.E. Ireton,

Copyright © 2019 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.