The Influence of Playing Position and Training Age on the Force-Velocity Profiles of Professional Male Rugby Union Players
Purchase, Samuel Alexander
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Force-velocity profiling is a useful assessment tool for strength and conditioning practitioners to ascertain certain physical characteristics of their athletes, which can directly inform training decisions. Thus, the intention of this dissertation was to 1) review the methods and technologies of force-velocity profiling, 2) review the literature pertaining to sport and positional requirements relating to force and velocity characteristics in rugby union and, 3) determine the influence of playing position and training age on the force and velocity characteristics of professional rugby union players. Chapter two presents an in-depth review of the existing force-velocity profiling methods and technologies. This literature review revealed a select few methods that were valuable to the strength and conditioning practitioner in the field due to their effectiveness and simplicity. Chapter three identifies the key physical and physiological requirements of rugby union and the unique differences between positional roles as it pertains to force and velocity characteristics. The primary findings of this literature review were that rugby union players as a group have a tendency towards force dominant characteristics. Furthermore, forwards had an even greater tendency for a higher force generating profile when compared to backs. Chapter four contains the original experimental investigation which determined the influence of playing position and training age on the force-velocity characteristics of professional rugby union players during the loaded squat jump and maximal back squat exercise. The primary findings from this study were that forwards were able to produce far greater absolute force than backs and that no statistically significant relationship existed between training experience and force-velocity characteristics. However, there was a significant correlation (p < 0.05) between training experience and the optimal slope of the force-velocity relationship. The inclusion of F-v profiling as an assessment tool for rugby union players is valuable for informing training decisions where the goal is improving ballistic performance or identifying existing force-velocity characteristics.