Effect of a combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program on selected physical and anthropometric components of university–level rugby players
Plyometrics is a specialized, high-intensity training technique for the improvement of power and performances among athletes primarily participating in dynamic, explosive type of team sports such as rugby league and soccer. In spite of the power requirements of rugby union, no studies to date have attempted to determine the possible benefits of a combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program on the anthropometric, physical and motor performance components of rugby union players. Seen against this background, the objectives of this study were firstly, to determine the effects of a four-week combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program on selected physical and motor performance components of university-level rugby players compared to the effects of a rugby conditioning training program alone, and secondly, to determine the comparative effects of these programs on the anthropometric components of university-level rugby players. Thirty-five (18,94 ± 0,40 years) u/19 rugby players of the North-West University participated in the study. Subjects performed a battery of five physical and motor performance tests, and twenty-six direct and indirect anthropometric measurements were taken prior to and following a four-week combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program (experimental group) and a non-plyometric training program (control group). Firstly, the descriptive statistics of each test variable were calculated. Next, dependent /-tests were performed to reveal the significant changes between pre and post-test results, after which the independent /-test values were calculated to determine the significance of pre and post-test changes between the control and experimental group. The level of significance was set at p < 0,05. Lastly, the effect size (ES) values were calculated for all of the pre and post-test results that obtained statistically significant results. With regard to the physical and motor performance components, the dependent /-test results revealed that the control group's upper body explosive power decreased significantly from pre to post-testing. The experimental group showed significant increases in speed over 20 m and agility, as well as in the power and work increments of the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT). In spite of these results the independent /-test revealed that speed over 20 m, average power output at 20 s and relative work of the WAnT as well as agility were the only components of the experimental group that improved significantly more compared to the control group. Only small values were obtained when the effect sizes were calculated for each of the significant variables. The anthropometric results indicated that the control group's skeletal mass and femur breadth increased significantly from pre to post-testing. The wrist breadth of the experimental group also increased significantly during the training period. The significant increase in body stature observed among both groups of players was most likely due to body growth and not due to the training program. No statistically or practically significant differences were, however, observed between the anthropometric measurement changes of the two groups of players. Hence the conclusion drawn from the above-mentioned results is that a four-week combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program leads to significantly bigger changes in certain physical and motor performance components of university-level rugby players than a non-plyometric rugby conditioning program alone. However, the combined rugby conditioning and plyometric training program had no significant effect on the anthropometric measurements of players compared to a non-plyometric rugby conditioning training program.
- Health Sciences