Category: Technical and Tactical Skill

Rugby Science Update 5

Activate is a 15–20min warm-up programme, designed to be completed prior to training and matches, with progressive, age-specific programmes. Neuromuscular training programmes such as Activate appear to have a dose–response relationship with injury rates, with three sessions per week providing the greatest preventative effect. The purpose of this study was to assess the effectiveness of Activate to lower match and training injury rates (incidence and burden) in schoolboy rugby union (under-12 to under-19). The secondary aim was to examine the dose–response relationship between weekly Activate adherence and injury incidence.

Individuals adopting Activate had a significantly lower training injury incidence than non-adopters, and lower match incidence and burden. Players completing Activate three times per week had significantly lower training and match incidence compared with those with low (<1 session) weekly adherence. Two-thirds of teams adopted Activate, with most completing Acti- vate three times per week. However, Activate was often not implemented as intended, with teams not using whole phases or failing to progress the programme.

The full text article is free to download in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Barden, C., Hancock, M. V., Stokes, K. A., Roberts, S. P., & McKay, C. D. (2022). Effectiveness of the Activate injury prevention exercise programme to prevent injury in schoolboy rugby union. British Journal of Sports Medicine. Online first. 

Physical and Technical Demands and Preparatory Strategies in Female Field Collision Sports: A Scoping Review

Women’s participation in field collision sports is growing worldwide. Scoping reviews provide an overview of scientific literature in a developing area to support practitioners, policy, and research priorities. The aim of this study was to explore the published research and synthesise information on the physical and technical demands and preparation strategies of female field collision sports. 43 studies met the inclusion criteria. Physical demands were the most highly investigated (n=24), followed by technical demands (n-18), tactical considerations (n=8) and preparatory strategies (n=1). The key themes embody a holistic model contributing to both performance and injury prevention outcomes in the context of female field collision sports. Findings suggest a gender data gap across all themes and a low evidence base to inform those preparing female athletes for match demands. Given the physical and technical differences in match-demands the review findings do not support the generalisation of male-derived training data to female athletes.

The full text article is published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine.

Dane, K., Simms, C., Hendricks, S., West, S. W., Griffin, S., Nugent, F. J., … & Wilson, F. (2022). Physical and Technical Demands and Preparatory Strategies in Female Field Collision Sports: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Sports Medicine. Online first. 

Players’, parents’ and staffs’ perceptions of injury prevention exercise programmes in youth rugby union

In youth rugby union, there is a belief that the risk of injury is high and that injuries can be prevented; however, successful implementation of injury prevention exercise programmes in ball sports is limited by barriers such as lack of time, resources and player or staff attitude and motivation. Stakeholders’ attitudes and beliefs regarding injury risk and prevention are important to understand, as they play a role in the adoption of injury prevention exercise programmes. This study aimed to describe staff members’, players’ and parents’ knowledge and perceptions of injury risk, injury severity and injury prevention in youth rugby union in Australia and explore facilitators and barriers to performing an injury prevention exercise programme. Staff, parents and players agree that the risk of injury is high, that injuries can be serious and that preventing injury is important. Allied health staff such as strength and conditioning coaches should be considered a viable alternative to coaches where available, although coaches remain key influencers and leaders in this setting. Barrier themes to performing an injury prevention exercise programme included poor attitude or motivation of the players, limitations related to the programme, poor attitude or motivation of staff, and lack of leadership in implementation of the programme. Facilitators to performing an injury prevention exercise programme included positive behaviour change through the use of structure and routine, strong leadership displayed by coaches and/or administration with the creation of rules or policy, leadership through positive role modelling, positive attitude of the players, and positive attitude of the staff.

This article is open-access in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine.

Sly, N., Soomro, M., Withall, A. L., Cullen, P., Turner, R. M., & Flahive, S. R. (2022). Players’, parents’ and staffs’ perceptions of injury prevention exercise programmes in youth rugby union. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 8(2), e001271.

    Rugby Science Update 4

    The Return to Sport Clearance Continuum

    The purpose of this article is to explore the concept of Return To Sport (RTS) being part of an evolving continuum rather than the traditional notion that RTS is a single decision made at a discrete point in time. The authors describe a 5 phase continuum – the Return to Sport Clearance Continuum (RTSCC).

    The first phase is the repair phase, where initial healing occurs post surgery. This is where swelling will be minimized, range of motion will be increased, and proper muscle activation will occur. Next will be the rehabilitation and recovery phase, where normal arthrokinematics are going to be restored. Then, the athlete will move to the reconditioning phase, where the focus will be on skill and force development, along with load volume tolerance. The athlete will then progress to the performance phase, where the athlete will transition to full team practice and competition. Finally, they will progress to the preseason/training camp phase, where they will properly be managed for the upcoming season after injury. Throughout the continuum training loads need. to be monitored on a near daily basis when possible, to avoid overloading the healing tissues.

    Full-text article:

    Draovitch, P., Patel, S., Marrone, W., Grundstein, M. J., Grant, R., Virgile, A., … & Jones, K. (2022). The Return-to-Sport Clearance Continuum Is a Novel Approach Toward Return to Sport and Performance for the Professional Athlete. Arthroscopy, sports medicine, and rehabilitation, 4(1), e93-e101.

    Skill Training Periodization in “Specialist” Sports Coaching

    In this paper, the authors propose a skill training periodization framework for “specialist coaches” based on skill training theory. Skill Training can be divided up into coordination training, skill adaptability training and performance training.

    This article is open access and free to download.

    Otte, F. W., Millar, S. K., & Klatt, S. (2019). Skill training periodization in “specialist” sports coaching—an introduction of the “PoST” framework for skill development. Frontiers in Sports and Active Living, 1, 61.

    Strength and conditioning in schools: a strategy to optimise health, fitness and physical activity in youths

    In this editorial, the authors argue that schools are an ideal environment for mass implementation of strength and conditioning interventions to support youth development. The author recommend that schools should aim to systematically incorporate strength and conditioning and wider physical activity into year-round timetables. This could be achieved by employing qualified youth strength and conditioning practitioners, and/or educating and upskilling current staff and stakeholders.

    Full-text article:

    Till, K., Bruce, A., Green, T., Morris, S. J., Boret, S., & Bishop, C. J. (2022). Strength and conditioning in schools: a strategy to optimise health, fitness and physical activity in youths. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 56(9), 479-480.

    Rugby Science Update 2

    Comparison of Weightlifting, Traditional Resistance Training and Plyometrics on Strength, Power and Speed: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis

    This review aimed to explore whether weightlifting resulted in greater improvements in measures of strength, power, speed and change of direction speed compared with traditional resistance training, plyometric training or controls. Findings from 16 studies suggested there are moderate to large benefits of weightlifting for improvements in strength, counter movement jump, squat jump and speed performance when compared with no additional training beyond sports practice or typical physical activities. Whilst improvements in strength were found to be similar following both weightlifting and traditional resistance training, weightlifting may be superior for improvements in weightlifting performance (i.e. load lifted) and counter movement jump height. Factors such as population characteristics or programme design may also influence these outcomes.

    This article is open access and the full article is free to download.

    Morris, S. J., Oliver, J. L., Pedley, J. S., Haff, G. G., & Lloyd, R. S. (2022). Comparison of Weightlifting, Traditional Resistance Training and Plyometrics on Strength, Power and Speed: A Systematic Review with Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 1-22.

    What Learning Environments Help Improve Decision-Making?

    This study attempted to provide a greater understanding of coaches’ perceptions and strategies for specifically developing on-ball decision-making abilities in players. In the paper, the authors were interested in what strategies coaches believe would improve player decision-making, how they would create a learning environment to specifically train decision-making, and how this may influence the on-ball decision-making opportunities for the players.

    The study found coaches are aware of the strategies which may promote decision-making opportunities for players such as the use of questioning, constraints-led pedagogy and using Playing Form rather than Training Form activities. While the data may suggest coaches are aware of potential strategies to promote player decision-making and are attempting to move away from traditional coaching approaches, the findings provide evidence to suggest that coaches still over-coach, with high amounts of instruction and a very stop-start nature to the activity. This coaching practice potentially limits the problem-solving and decision-making demands on players. The findings support researchers who indicate there is still a disconnect between intention and practice, with the application of more effective coaching methods proposed in the research still a challenge to implement for coaches.

    O’Connor, D., Larkin, P., & Williams, A. M. (2017). What learning environments help improve decision-making?. Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, 22(6), 647-660.

    Characteristics of Complex Systems in Sports Injury Rehabilitation: Examples and Implications for Practice

    This review applies the complex systems approach to return to sport. The paper highlights the characteristics and terminologies of complex systems, using a case of anterior cruciate ligament injury rehabilitation. Alternative forms of scientific inquiry, such as the use of computational and simulation-based techniques, are also discussed—to move the complex systems approach from the theoretical to the practical level.

    This article is open access and the full article is free to download.

    Yung, K. K., Ardern, C. L., Serpiello, F. R., & Robertson, S. (2022). Characteristics of complex systems in sports injury rehabilitation: examples and implications for practice. Sports Medicine-Open, 8(1), 1-15.