Application of Individualized Speed Thresholds to Interpret Position Specific Running Demands in Elite Professional Rugby Union: A GPS Study

Reardon, C.; Tobin, D. P.; Delahunt, E.

This study aimed to compare and contrast the high-speed running (HSR) demands of professional rugby union using micro-technology units sampling at 10 Hz and applying relative or individualized speed zones. The results showed that applying individualized speed zones led to a significant shift in the interpretation of HSR demands for both forwards and backs, as well as positional sub-categories.

When comparing absolute and individualized HSR thresholds, significant underestimations of HSR distance (HSRD), HSR percentage (HSR%), and HSR efforts (HSRE) were found for forwards with the use of an absolute threshold. Conversely, there were significant overestimations of the same HSR metrics for backs with the use of an absolute threshold.

This under- or overestimation associated with an absolute speed zone varied across positional sub-categories and individuals within the same positional sub-category. The study concluded that while using an individualized HSR threshold improves the interpretation of HSR demands on a positional basis, inter-individual variability in maximum velocity within positional sub-categories necessitates considering players on an individual basis to accurately gauge the HSR demands of rugby union.

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