Performance changes following training in junior rugby league players

Tim J Gabbett, James Johns, Matt Riemann
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2008, 22 (3): 910-7
The purpose of this study was to investigate the time course of adaptations to training in young (i.e., <15 years) and older (i.e., <18 years) junior rugby league players. Fourteen young (14.1 +/- 0.2 years) and 21 older (16.9 +/- 0.3 years) junior rugby league players participated in a 10-week preseason strength, conditioning, and skills program that included 3 sessions each week. Subjects performed measurements of standard anthropometry (i.e., height, body mass, and sum of 7 skinfolds), muscular power (i.e., vertical jump), speed (i.e., 10-m, 20-m, and 40-m sprint), agility (505 test), and estimated maximal aerobic power (i.e., multistage fitness test) before and after training. In addition, players underwent a smaller battery of fitness tests every 3 weeks to assess the time course of adaptation to the prescribed training stimulus. During the triweekly testing sessions, players completed assessments of upper-body (i.e., 60-second push-up, sit-up, and chin-up test) and lower-body (i.e., multiple-effort vertical jump test) muscular endurance. Improvements in maximal aerobic power and muscular endurance were observed in both the young and the older junior players following training. The improvements in speed, muscular power, maximal aerobic power, and upper-body muscular endurance were greatest in the young junior players, while improvements in lower-body muscular endurance were greatest in the older junior players. These findings demonstrate that young (i.e., <15 years) and older (i.e., <18 years) junior rugby league players adapt differently to a given training stimulus and that training programs should be modified to accommodate differences in maturational and training age. In addition, the results of this study provide conditioning coaches with realistic performance improvements following a 10-week preseason strength and conditioning program in junior rugby league players.

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