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Effects of a 12% carbohydrate beverage on tackling technique and running performance during rugby league activity: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial

Dobbin, Nicholas ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7508-1683, Richardson, Daniel, Myler, Liam and Esen, Ozcan (2022) Effects of a 12% carbohydrate beverage on tackling technique and running performance during rugby league activity: a randomised, placebo-controlled trial. PLoS One. ISSN 1932-6203

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of a 12% carbohydrate (CHO) beverage on tackling technique and running performance during rugby league activity. Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomised, crossover design, 15 academy rugby league players ingested a 250 ml bolus of a 12% CHO solution (30 g maltodextrin and 30 g sucrose in 500 ml) 15 minutes before two bouts of rugby activity. The rugby league match simulation for interchange players was used to standardise the movement patterns of activity and provide reliable outcome measures, whilst also reflecting the duration of a typical field-based conditioning session. Measures of tackling technique, external responses (e.g., fatigue index from sprint data) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded throughout. Gut discomfort was measured before each bout. The interaction effect was largely compatible with the hypothesis for relative distance (P<0.001, η2 = 0.217) and fairly compatible for tackling technique (P = 0.068, η2 = 0.0640). The time effect for tackling technique, relative and high-intensity distance, sprint, and sprint to contact velocity, time at high metabolic power, PlayerLoad™, and RPE (all P<0.05; η2 = 0.131–0.701) was compatible with the hypothesis. Data for tackling technique, relative and high-intensity distance, sprint, and sprint to contact velocity, sprint, and sprint to contact fatigue index (all P<0.05; η2 = 0.189–0.612) was compatible with a supplement effect overall despite few differences in the pattern of change (interaction). Minimal gut discomfort was reported for the CHO (bout 1 = 27 ± 17; bout 2 = 23 ± 17 AU) and placebo (bout 1 = 23 ± 18 AU; bout 2 = 24 ± 13) trials. This study shows that a 12% CHO beverage before two bouts of standardised rugby activity is a practical and effective strategy for retaining tackling technique, increasing external responses, and reducing RPE without compromising gut comfort.

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