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Factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players: a multi-club study.

Dobbin, Nicholas and Highton, Jamie and Moss, Sam and Twist, Craig (2018) Factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players: a multi-club study. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. ISSN 1555-0273

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Abstract

Purpose: To investigate the factors affecting the anthropometric and physical characteristics of elite academy rugby league players. Methods: One hundred and ninety-seven elite academy rugby league players (age = 17.3 ± 1.0 years) from five Super League clubs completed measures of anthropometric and physical characteristics during a competitive season. The interaction between, and influence of contextual factors on characteristics was assessed using linear mixed modelling. Results: Associations were observed between several anthropometric and physical characteristics. All physical characteristics improved during preseason and continued to improve until mid-season where thereafter 10 m sprint (η2 = 0.20 cf. 0.25), CMJ (η2 = 0.28 cf. 0.30) and prone Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test (Yo-Yo IR) (η2 = 0.22 cf. 0.54) performance declined. Second (η2 = 0.17) and third (η2 = 0.16) years were heavier than first years, whilst third years had slower 10 m sprint times (η2 = 0.22). Large positional variability was observed for body mass, 20 m sprint time, medicine ball throw, countermovement jump, and prone Yo-Yo IR1. Compared to bottom-ranked teams, top demonstrated superior 20 m (η2 = -0.22) and prone Yo-Yo IR1 (η2 = 0.26) performance whilst middle-ranked teams reported higher CMJ height (η2 = 0.26) and prone Yo-Yo IR1 distance (η2 = 0.20), but slower 20 m sprint times (η2 = 0.20). Conclusion: These findings offer practitioners designing training programmes for academy rugby league players insight into the relationships between anthropometric and physical characteristics and how they are influenced by playing year, league ranking, position and season phase.

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