Effect of Strength and Power Training on Tackling Ability in Semiprofessional Rugby League Players

Document Type

Journal Article


NSCA National Strength and Conditioning Association


School of Exercise and Health Sciences




Speranza, M.J.A., Gabbett, T.J., Johnston, R.D., Sheppard, J.M. Effect of Strength and Power Training on Tackling Ability in Semiprofessional Rugby League Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(2), 336-343. Available here.


This study examined the influence of a strength and power program on tackling ability in rugby league players. Twenty-four semiprofessional rugby league players (mean 6 SD age, 23.4 ± 3.1 years) underwent tests of upper-body strength (3 repetition maximum [RM] bench press), lower-body strength (3RM squat), upper-body power (plyometric push-up), and lower-body power (countermovement jump [CMJ]). Muscular strength relative to body mass was also calculated. Tackling ability of the players was assessed using video analysis of a standardized one-on-one tackling drill. The players then underwent 8 weeks of strength and power training as part of their preseason training before being retested. Training resulted in significant (p # 0.01) improvements in absolute and relative measures of squat, bench press, CMJ peak power, and plyometric push-up peak power. The strongest correlates of change in tackling ability were changes in 3RM squat (r = 0.60, p < 0.01) and squat relative to body mass (r = 0.54, p < 0.01). The players with the greatest improvements in 3RM squat and squat relative to body mass (i.e., responders) had significantly greater improvements in tackling ability than nonresponding players (p = 0.04, effect size [ES] ≥ 0.85). A small, nonsignificant difference (p = 0.20, ES = 0.56) in tackling ability was found between responders and nonresponders for lower-body power. The findings of this study demonstrate that the enhancement of lower-body muscular strength, and to a lesser extent muscular power, contribute to improvements in tackling ability in semiprofessional rugby league players. © 2016 National Strength and Conditioning Association.