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J Sci Med Sport. 2016 Jun;19(6):493-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2015.05.010. Epub 2015 Jun 5.

Variability of physical performance and player match loads in professional rugby union.

Author information

1
Sport & Exercise Subject Group, School of Social Sciences, Business and Law, Teesside University, UK.
2
A S Strength and Conditioning Limited, UK; Nottingham Rugby, The Bay, UK.
3
School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University, UK.
4
Sport & Exercise Subject Group, School of Social Sciences, Business and Law, Teesside University, UK. Electronic address: m.portas@tees.ac.uk.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To examine the within- and between-player variability of physical performance and player match loads in professional rugby union.

DESIGN:

A single cohort, observational study.

METHODS:

Physical match performance data were collected from 28 male, professional, English Championship players over 15 competitive matches. Using microsensors, the variables selected for analysis were total distance, low-speed running distance, high-speed running distance, very high-speed running distance, total impacts, repeated high-intensity efforts, body load (PlayerLoad™), and low velocity (<7.2kmh(-1)) body load. Ratings of perceived exertion represented match internal loads. Variability was quantified using the coefficient of variation, with the meaningful interpretation of change in physical performance and match loads calculated using magnitude-based inferences.

RESULTS:

We found large between-match (within-player) variation for high-speed running distance (27.6%; ±90% confidence limits 6.9% [forwards], 20.1%; ±4.1% [backs]), very high-speed running distance (68%; ±19%, 34.1%; ±7.5%), total impacts (24.0%; ±5.9%, 36.4%; ±7.9%) and repeated high-intensity efforts (18.7%; ±4.4%, 39.5%; ±8.8%), with moderate variability for match ratings of perceived exertion (8.2%; ±1.8%, 10.8%; ±2.1%), body load (7.3%; ±1.7%, 10.0%; ±2.0%) and low velocity body load (8.9%; ±2.0%, 10.7%; ±2.1%). Threshold values for likely substantial between-match changes in high-intensity physical performance measures ranged from 21% to 76%, and were ∼10% for match ratings of perceived exertion, body load and low velocity body load.

CONCLUSIONS:

Within- and between-player variability of high-intensity activity in professional rugby union is large, yet ratings of perceived exertion, body load and low velocity body load appear more stable by comparison and may be interpreted with greater accuracy.

KEYWORDS:

Between-match variation; External load; GPS; Internal load; RPE; Reliability

PMID:
26118848
DOI:
10.1016/j.jsams.2015.05.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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