The relationship between physical abilities, ball-carrying and tackling among elite youth rugby league players.

Research paper by Mark M Waldron, Paul Ray PR Worsfold, Craig C Twist, Kevin K Lamb

Indexed on: 28 Sep '13Published on: 28 Sep '13Published in: Journal of sports sciences


This study investigated the relationship between the physical abilities of adolescent rugby league players and tackling and ball-carrying skills performed during matches, across three seasons (under-15 to under-17). The players were measured each season for acceleration (10-30 m), peak and mean speed (10-30 m), sprinting force (10-30 m), aerobic power, counter-movement jump (CMJ) height and jumping power. The matches were filmed and analysed for ball-carrying and tackling frequency per minute (successful and unsuccessful outcomes). There were strong relationships between successful carries∙min(-1) and 10 m force in the under-15 (R = 0.61, P < 0.001), under-16 (R = 0.69, P < 0.001) and under-17 groups (R = 0.64, P < 0.001). There were also strong and moderate relationships between predicted vertical power and successful carries∙min(-1) in the under-15 (R = 0.63, P = 0.011) and under-17 group (R = 0.40, P = 0.030), respectively. There were no relationships between carries or tackles and any other performance indicators. These findings suggest that acceleration, in accordance with gains in body mass, support ball-carrying but not tackling performance. Performance measurements, such as CMJ or aerobic power, do not support ball-carrying ability among youth rugby league players.