Effects of tapering on power-force-velocity profiling and performance in elite rugby league
Rugby league is a high intensity, collision sport where understanding strength, speed and power characteristics are imperative for strength and conditioning coaches to recognise the demands of the sport. Due to the high demands of elite rugby league, fatigue can impair on field performance. Implementing a taper can aid in reducing the effect of fatigue on performance. This thesis sought to gain insight into strength, speed and power differences between forwards and backs, tapering and physiological and performance changes and the effects of tapering on power-force-velocity profiling and jump performance in professional rugby league players. Our findings showed that backs are faster over 10 m (Effect Size=1.26) and 40 m (ES=1.61) than forwards. Furthermore, backs produce greater relative horizontal force (ES=0.87) and power (ES=1.04) compared to forwards. Our findings suggest that developing horizontal force and power may potentially improve short sprint performance in rugby league players. On the basis of the literature review, significant improvements in physiological and performance measures occurred after a short tapering period. In the fourth chapter, a 21 day step taper was implemented leading into the in-season with 7 professional rugby league players. Measurements included vertical jump, performance and force-velocity-power variables. Our findings show positive changes in the power-force-velocity profile when implementing a step taper. A likely increase in F0 and a very likely increase in Pmax was found after a 21 day tapering period. Furthermore, jumping performance saw likely to most likely increases post taper. We suggest implementing a short step taper leading into the season where resistance training volume decreases to improve Pmax and jump performance.