Effects of sprint training with vs. without ball carry on the sprint performance of elite rugby league players
Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning
Australian Strength and Conditioning Association
School of Medical and Health Sciences / Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research
The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of sprint training with ball carry vs. sprint training without ball carry on the sprint performance of junior elite rugby league players (mean ± SD age 18.4 ± 0.9 y, height 182.3 ± 7.4 cm, and weight 81.6 ± 11.7 kg). Twenty players were divided into a ball carry group (BC; n=10) and a no ball carry group (NBC; n=10). Both groups performed identical sprint exercises (i.e., similar distances, number of sprints/sets per session, rest between sprints/sets and patterns), however, the NBC group performed the sprints without a ball in hand whereas the players of the BC group were required to catch and carry the ball under one arm during each sprint. Sprint performance was measured prior to and after the training intervention with 20-m linear sprints performed under two conditions: with and without ball carry. A three-way (group × time × condition) factorial ANOVA was performed to compare changes in sprint times with and without the ball, before and after the training intervention for both BC and NBC groups. The BC (ball carry: + 2.85%; without ball carry: + 2.79%) and NBC (ball carry: + 2.89%; without ball carry: + 2.71%) groups experienced similar improvements in 20-m sprint times, regardless of the condition under which the sprint tests were performed. Sprint training with ball carry is as effective as sprint training without ball carry for improving the sprint performance of elite junior rugby league players. Sprint training with ball carry can be implemented during congested training and playing schedules during the precompetitive phase of the season since the sprint performance of the players can be improved using specific exercises in which technical and tactical skills are involved in conditions similar to actual competition.