Do force-time and power-time measures in a loaded jump squat differentiate between speed performance and playing level in elite and elite junior rugby union players?
Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
The purpose of this study was to investigate the discriminative ability of rebound jump squat force-time and power-time measures in differentiating speed performance and competition level in elite and elite junior rugby union players. Forty professional rugby union players performed 3 rebound jump squats with an external load of 40 kg from which a number of force-time and power-time variables were acquired and analyzed. Additionally, players performed 3 sprints over 30 m with timing gates at 5, 10, and 30 m. Significant differences (p < 0.05) between the fastest 20 and slowest 20 athletes, and elite (n = 25) and elite junior (n = 15) players in speed and force-time and power-time variables were determined using independent sample t-tests. The fastest and slowest sprinters over 10 m differed in peak power (PP) expressed relative to body weight. Over 30 m, there were significant differences in peak velocity and relative PP and rate of power development. There was no significant difference in speed over any distance between elite and elite junior rugby union players; however, a number of force and power variables including peak force, PP, force at 100 milliseconds from minimum force, and force and impulse 200 milliseconds from minimum force were significantly (p < 0.05) different between playing levels. Although only power values expressed relative to body weight were able to differentiate speed performance, both absolute and relative force and power values differentiated playing levels in professional rugby union players. For speed development in rugby union players, training strategies should aim to optimize the athlete's power to weight ratio, and lower body resistance training should focus on movement velocity. For player development to transition elite junior players to elite status, adding lean mass is likely to be most beneficial.