Muscular strength and power correlates of tackling ability in semiprofessional rugby league players
National Strength and Conditioning Association
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
School of Exercise and Health Sciences
This study investigated the relationship between muscular strength and power and tackling ability in semiprofessional rugby league players. Thirty-six semiprofessional (mean 6 SD age, 23.1 6 3.6 years) rugby league players, from 3 distinct playing divisions (first grade, second grade, and under 20s), underwent tests of upper-body strength (3 repetition maximum [RM] bench press), lower-body strength (3RM squat), upper-body power (plyometric push-up [PPU]), and lower-body power (countermovement jump). Muscular strength relative to body mass was also calculated. Tackling ability of the players was tested using video analysis of a standardized one-on-one tackling drill. For all players, the strongest correlates of tackling ability were squat (r = 0.67), bench press (r = 0.58), relative squat (r = 0.41), and PPU (r = 0.56). The strongest correlates of tackling ability in first grade players were squat (r = 0.72), bench press (r = 0.72), relative squat (r = 0.86), and PPU (r = 0.70). For second grade players, only relative squat (r = 0.60) and PPU (r = 0.67) were associated with tackling ability. The strongest correlates of tackling ability in under 20s players were squat (r = 0.77), bench press (r = 0.70), and PPU (r = 0.65). The findings of this study demonstrate that muscular strength and upper-body power contribute to tackling ability in semiprofessional rugby league players. Therefore, as long as the technical aspects of tackling technique are adequately coached and practiced, then enhancements in muscular strength and power may serve as foundational components to underpin improvement in tackling ability.