UKSCA Applied Case Study Award 2017

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UKSCA Applied Case Study Award 2017

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Congratulations to Chris Towlson and colleagues on winning the Best Applied Case Study at the UKSCA 2017 Conference. Keep an eye out for the article in full in the published literature in the near future. In the meantime Chris has kindly provided Sports Discovery with an overview of the study.


You can view the poster in full here: 

Repeated Sprint Training Improves International Rugby League Player Fitness and Performance: A Case Study


This following documents the completion of a short duration (two-week) repeated sprint training (RST) intervention program prescribed to an international RFL player prior to a major international tournament and will attempt to contextualise the circumstances, needs analysis, fitness testing protocols (pre and post intervention), training intervention and athletic evaluations of the client during the last trimester of his competition season. These remaining weeks comprised of four contested domestic Championship matches, followed by a seven match series during the domestic league play-offs. Given that the RFL Four Nations International competition (contested by England, Scotland, New Zealand and Australia) was scheduled to take place soon after the end of the domestic RFL season, the final trimester of the 2016-2017 season was considered a critical period by the athlete. Therefore, the athlete wanted to improve both his match-play performance and discrete measures of physical fitness in preparation for potential international representation once the domestic season had reach its conclusion.  Although the athlete had demonstrated a consistently high standards of performance across the domestic RFL season, he believed that he required additional athletic training that was effective and time efficient to supplement his part-time club training in order for him to successfully compete with his full-time counterparts at both domestic and international levels (in particular Southern Hemisphere) of competition.


In reflection of the information discussed within the athletes’ needs analysis, the agreed outline of the athletes physical monitoring and intervention were as follows:


1)      Using an individualised approach (Hunter et al., 2014), the client’s RFL match-play activity was monitored and evaluated across a 11 week period (6 weeks pre, 2 weeks during, 5 weeks post intervention) using Catpult Optimeye X4 Micromechanical-electrical systems (MEMS) devices and agreed global positioning systems (GPS) metrics.


2)      Using a battery of physical fitness field and laboratory procedures, the athlete was requested to complete pre and post training intervention measures for each of the discrete components of physical fitness that he identified for improvement within his needs analysis. This allowed the magnitude of performance change likely attributed to the 2 weeks of RST to be quantified and permit benchmarking of these fitness attributes against Southern Hemisphere rugby league player data


3)      Using a modified version of a previously established applied method (Taylor, Macpherson, McLaren, Spears, & Weston, 2016) the client completed a two week RST program.


The implemented RST intervention was shown to be an effective training modality for improving many of the physical phenotypes (timed agility: -8.9 %; timed sprints: -2.2 to 3.1 %; lower limb power: 2.0 %; maximal aerobic capacity: 6.6 %) considered important for successful RFL match-play performance, which are likely to have contributed to modest improvements match-play performance attributes within the latter stages his matches.


Key references

Hunter, F., Bray, J., Towlson, C., Smith, M., Barrett, S., Madden, J., . . . Lovell, R. (2015). Individualisation of time-motion analysis: a method comparison and case report series. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 36(1), 41-48.


Taylor, J. M., Macpherson, T. W., McLaren, S. J., Spears, I., & Weston, M. (2016). Two Weeks of Repeated-Sprint Training in Soccer: To Turn or Not to Turn? International journal of sports physiology and performance, 11(8), 998-1004.


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