Force-velocity-power assessment in semi-professional rugby union players
NSCA National Strength and Conditioning Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
There is a constant and necessary evolution of training and assessment methods in the elite contact sports; as is required to continually improve the physical qualities of these respective athletes to match the growing sport and position-specific performance demands. Our aim was to examine the differences between ballistic upper body performance profiles and maximum upper body strength of elite rugby union forwards and backs. Twenty semiprofessional male rugby union players (age 21.1 ± 3.0 years; mass 94.9 ± 9.7 kg) were assessed for maximum bench press strength (1RM bench press 121.3 ± 21.8 kg) and maximum throw power (Pmax), force (Fmax), and velocity (Vmax) from an incremental relative load testing protocol (15, 30, 45, 60, and 75% 1RM). Player rankings were also included to identify individual strength and weaknesses. The forwards were moderately stronger (effect size [ES] 0.96; p 0.01), produced significantly greater Fmax (ES 1.17-1.41; p 0.01) and were more powerful (ES 0.57-0.64; p < 0.43) than the backs. Vmax differences were trivial to small (ES-0.32 to-0.65; p > 0.15). There were inherent differences in strength and Fmax between the forwards and backs most likely because of the physical demands of these respective positions. Improvements in upper body strength may in turn improve ballistic force and power production, but not necessarily velocity capabilities. From the Fmax and Vmax observations, the forwards seem to be more force dominant and the backs more velocity dominant. Pmax, Fmax, and Vmax may be used to highlight proficient and deficient areas in ballistic upper body performance; the individual rankings could be further used to identify and possibly rectify individual deficiencies. © 2013 National Strength and Conditioning Association.