The Use of Relative Speedzones Increases the High-Speed Running Performed in Team Sport Match-Play

Gabbett, T. J.

Objective: This study investigated the activity profiles of junior rugby league players competing in three distinct age groups (Under 13, 14, and 15), and two distinct playing standards (Division 1 and 4).

Participants: Ninety male junior rugby league players, representing one of six teams competing in the Brisbane junior rugby league competition, underwent measurements of peak velocity (via a 40 m sprint) and global positioning system (GPS) analysis during competitive matches.

Methods: GPS data using pre-defined absolute speed thresholds, and speed thresholds expressed relative to a player’s individual peak velocity were reported. Data were described as both absolute speed zones and relative to the individual player’s peak velocity.

Results: Absolute measures of moderate, high, and very-high speed running distances increased with age, with the differences among groups typically small to moderate (Effect Size = 0.24 to 0.68) in magnitude. However, when data were expressed relative to a player’s capacity, younger players and those from lower playing divisions exhibited higher playing intensities and performed greater amounts of high-intensity activity. Moderate, negative relationships (r = -0.43 to -0.46) were found between peak velocity and the amount of relative high-speed running performed.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that individualization of velocity bands increases the high-speed running attributed to slower players and decreases the high-speed running attributed to faster players. From a practical perspective, consideration should be given to both the absolute and relative demands of competition to provide insight into training prescription and the recovery requirements of individual players.

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