This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
NATASHA M. KILLEN,1 TIM J. GABBETT,1,2
DAVID G. JENKINS1
School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; and 2Brisbane Broncos Rugby League Club, Brisbane, Australia
Killen, NM, Gabbett, TJ, and Jenkins, DG. Training loads and incidence of injury during the preseason in professional rugby league players. J Strength Cond Res 24(8): 2079–2084, 2010—Research into rugby league has found a signiﬁcant, positive relationship between training load and injury rates. However, there has been limited research investigating this relationship in the preseason period, and the relationship between training load, and injury among professional rugby league players is yet to be examined. The primary aim of this study was to examine the relationships between training load, various psychological data, and the incidence of injury during preseason training at a professional rugby league club. Thirtysix male professional rugby league players undertook a 14-week training program. Each player’s training time, intensity rating, and injury status were recorded after each training session. In addition, players rated their sleep, food, energy, mood, and stress on a scale of 1–10 (with 1 being extremely poor and 10 being excellent) biweekly. Over the entire preseason period, a total of 2,877.9 training hours were recorded for the players, with an overall incidence of injury of 6.9 per 1,000 training hours. Higher training loads during the ﬁrst half of the preseason corresponded to a higher injury rate in comparison to the second half of the preseason. No signiﬁcant relationship was found between the preseason weekly injury rate and the weekly load, nor was there a relationship between injury and psychological data. These ﬁndings suggest no relationship between training load, psychological data, and injury incidence during the preseason training period in professional rugby league players. However, results suggest that players may have an increased risk of injury during the early preseason period. The ﬁndings of this study may be particularly useful in professional rugby league teams to determine when a player
is at increased risk of injury, using their training loads and psychological data.
KEY WORDS team sport, football, collision sport, training,
Address correspondence to Natasha Killen, email@example.com. 24(8)/2079–2084 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research Ó 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association
ugby league football is a physically demanding, full-contact, team sport in which players are required to compete in a challenging contest involving frequent bouts of high-intensity activities such as running, passing, tackling, and kicking (20). The game’s highly demanding nature and frequent physical collisions, combined with the minimal protective equipment, mean injuries are inevitable. Prevention of injuries in professional rugby league is important; injuries negatively impact not only the individual but also the entire team and its success (22). Research into rugby league has found a signiﬁcant, positive relationship between training and match load and injury rates (8–10). Gabbett (9) studied the incidence, site, severity, and cause of training and match injuries in semiprofessional rugby league players over a playing season and demonstrated a signiﬁcant relationship (p , 0.05) between training injuries and the training load (r = 0.86) along with match injury incidence and match load (r = 0.86) (9). Research involving rugby league has widely acknowledged that as the intensity, duration and load of a training session or match increases, so too does the incidence of injury (8). Reynolds et al. (21) examined the incidence of injury in women undergoing a rigorous 24-week training program and reported a relationship between the injury incidence and training load. They also reported that a well-designed, periodized training program can elicit signiﬁcant improvements in performance with a low incidence of injury. However, there has been limited research investigating this relationship in the preseason period and research is yet to examine the relationship between training load and injury rate among professional rugby league players. Preseason training for rugby league players in Australia runs from early December until the beginning of March. Training intensities and durations during this period are high as the
VOLUME 24 | NUMBER 8 | AUGUST 2010 |
Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
and training blood lactate concentration and training RPE were 0. we investigated the relationship between heart rate and RPE. energy. respectively. Physical data included players’ perceptions of how their body was 2080 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research the TM Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. 95% CI 1. The correlations between training heart rate and training RPE. or other personal or professional commitments. and load are well-established. except for 11 days over the Christmas and New Year period. Psychological data were collected on the players’ perceptions relating to sleep. and the number of players at each session varied from 11 to the full squad of 36.84. Collectively. Indeed. The average NRL playing experience of the participants was 55. .99 and 4.e. The particularly high preseason injury rates warrant research. physical and psychological status. is effective for extended aerobic exercise sessions (6). participants generated their entire income from their involvement in rugby league) (7). and players were asked for their RPE within 10 minutes of completing each training session. before commencing the study. A subset of players (n = 11) also completed 2 identical preseason training sessions. speciﬁc speed. These ﬁndings were supported by Dvorak et al. signiﬁcant predictors of injury. The duration of training sessions ranged from 25 to 105 minutes.11) predictor of sporting injuries (23).Training Load and Injury players undergo rigorous conditioning to raise their ﬁtness.000 training hours) (9). Rating of perceived exertion has previously been shown to be an acceptable tool for estimating the intensity of training sessions. these results demonstrate that the RPE scale offers an acceptable method of quantifying training intensity for collision sport athletes. and can be reliably used for resistance training sessions (2). The scale was explained to the players on multiple occasions. Not all players were able to attend all sessions for various reasons such as illness. performed 1 week apart. and blood lactate concentration and RPE on a subset of subjects during typical rugby league training activities.. (4) who examined this relationship in 264 football players over the course of a year. When compared to heart rate and blood lactate concentration. and skills training along with upper and lower body strength sessions in the gymnasium. intensity. The training load from each session was then calculated by multiplying the RPE training intensity and the duration of the session. and written consent was obtained.0%. and injury incidence in professional rugby league players. and social support to injury in athletic populations and found that high tension and anxiety levels were signiﬁcantly related to the injury incidence. the RPE scale has been shown to provide a valid estimate of exercise intensity (3. Lavallee and Flint (19) investigated the contribution of anxiety. the contribution of psychological factors on injury has been examined in several studies ´ (6. It was hypothesized that a signiﬁcant relationship would be detected between training load. agility.89 and 0. skill.3 games. Participants were professional rugby league players (i. injury. followed by a decline through to the end of the season. All participants received a clear explanation of the study.8 6 0. Subjects A squad of 36 National Rugby League (NRL) players were involved in this study.6 mlÁkg21Ámin21. The primary aim of the present study was to examine the relationship between training load and incidence of injury during a preseason training period at a professional rugby league club. physical and psychological status. Participation in the study formed part of the players’ routine training commitments. The intraclass correlation coefﬁcient for test–retest reliability and typical error of measurement for the RPE scale were 0.7 6 11. food. Preseason training for the season was conducted over a period of 14 weeks.86. At the time of the study.5. During this time. mood.16). training intensity. to determine test–retest reliability. irrespective of the need for training time loss (18). off-season and returned to preseason training with an average maximal oxygen consumption of 53. players participated in 6–9 training sessions every week. players had completed a 6-week active Injury was deﬁned as ‘‘any pain or disability that occurred during participation in a rugby league training activity that was sustained by a player. In addition to the effects of training duration. and stress.23). before the commencement of the study. The injury deﬁnition (8) and experimental design (13) employed in this study were identical to other rugby league studies. Procedures METHODS Experimental Approach to the Problem The present study used a prospective experimental design to identify the relationship between training load.000 training hours) was much higher than at the beginning of the preseason (105. beginning in early December and ﬁnishing in mid-March. High life stress has also shown be an independent and signiﬁcant (odds ratio = 1. A secondary aim was to investigate the relationship between the players’ physical and psychological status and their preseason injury rates. coaches may be able to modify them. and strength in advance of the upcoming season (10). the preseason incidence of injury at the end of February (205. duration.’’ A modiﬁed rating of perceived exertion (RPE) scale was used to estimate exercise intensity (1). and these were expressed relative to exposure hours.6 per 1. and injury incidence. Sessions involved general conditioning. respectively. and load on injury occurrence. Injury rates in semiprofessional players have been shown to increase gradually throughout the preseason from December to March. In addition.12. The Institutional Review Board for Human Investigation approved all experimental procedures. If those factors that inﬂuence the incidence of injury during the preseason training period in professional rugby league players can be identiﬁed. and their ages ranged from 17 to 32 years.19. Psychological factors.10–3. mood state.2 per 1. The club physiotherapist assessed all injuries.
0) 1.1) per 1.7–10. 15%).2%.7 per 1. paired t-tests.05 and a sample size of 36.7 per 1.3 (0. 15%).7 (0.6 3.3 per 1.3 (0.2) 1.7 (0.0 per 1.*† Site of injury Thigh and calf Ankle/foot Knee Thorax/abdomen Hip Shoulder Elbow Shin Head/neck Face Injury number 7 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 Injury rate (95% CI) 2.3) 1.nsca-jscr.000 training hours.0–1.2) 0.000.4 per 1. A total of 20 injuries were recorded during the preseason training period with an overall incidence of injury of 6.3) 1.710. shoulder (0.3 (0. with an average of 221.7 (10) Inﬂammation injuries and sprains and strains were the most common types of training injury (1.0 (0.80 for detecting correlations of 0. Statistical Analyses the TM | www.0) 0.8) 0. Site of injury during the preseason period in professional rugby league players.6 6 913.7) 0.7 per 1.1 6 0.4 (0. elbow (0.7 6 3.0–2. 20%).0 per 1.6 8. Injury rates per 1. †Injury rate expressed per 1.000.000. 5%).95 and 1.6 per 1. The most common training injury was sustained to the thigh and calf (2.000.org TABLE 1.000.0–2.000.3 per 1. compared to injuries to the trunk (0. VOLUME 24 | NUMBER 8 | AUGUST 2010 | 2081 Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. back (0.3 (0. Site of Injury *CI.2) 1.877.0) 0.85 or greater among injury.000 training hours. 35%). Each player rated how they felt in each category on a scale of 1–10 (with 1 being extremely poor and 10 being excellent).03–2. *Data are mean 6 SD.9 (95% CI: 3. and psychological data during the preseason period for professional rugby league players.21–3. 80%). 10%).4 6 44.7 (0.788.3 per 1. Spearman and Pearson correlations.0–1.000. and shin (0. .3 per 1.3 38.9 training hours were recorded for the players over the entire preseason training period.0–1. *CI = conﬁdence intervals. All results are reported as means and SDs or medians with interquartile ranges.0 (0. An average weekly ﬁgure for the entire team was calculated for each category throughout the preseason.0–1.0) % 35 15 15 10 10 5 5 5 Data were analyzed using SPSS 15.000. 25%). 5%) were low (Table 2).7 (0. training strain was calculated as the product of total weekly training load and training monotony.4 per 1.0 (0.0–1.000 training hours. conﬁdence intervals.7) 0.21–3.2) % 25 25 20 5 5 5 15 RESULTS Incidence of Injury A total of 2.4 (0. Based on an alpha level of 0.3 exposure hours completed by the training group each week. and these ratings were recorded immediately before 2 training sessions each week. Type of Injury TABLE 3. †Nonparametric data.0–1. The intraclass correlation coefﬁcient for test–retest reliability and typical error of measurement for the psychological data were 0. and 1-way analysis of variance. †Injury rate expressed per 1. 10%). Training monotony was calculated by multiplying the weekly training load and the SD of the weekly training load. 5%) were less common (Table 1).000. The chi-squared (x2) test was used to determine whether the observed injury frequency was signiﬁcantly different from the expected injury frequency.000. overuse injuries. Lower body training injuries were most common (5. and strain.0–2.3 (0.000. 5%).000. training load. 10%) and upper limbs (0.7 per 1. TABLE 2. 10%).0–1. respectively. our beta level (power) was $0. Injuries to the ankle (1. and contusions (0. hematomas. and psychological data. The incidences of degenerative injuries (1. knee (1. hip (0.0) 0.0) 0.7 per 1.1 221. monotony.000.000 training hours were calculated by dividing the total number of injuries by the exposure hours and multiplying this by 1. Normality of distribution for each measure was tested using the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test and analysis included standard descriptive statistics.0–1.3 (0.4 6 44. expressed as median and interquartile range.729.000.* Training variable Training load Training monotony Training strain Exposure hours Total psychological data† 2.Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research feeling physically.*† Injury type Inﬂammation Sprains/strains Degenerative Overuse Hematoma Contusions Other Injury number 5 5 4 1 1 1 3 Injury rate 1.6–4. Average training load.000. Type of injury during the preseason period in professional rugby league players.
4 6 597.169.941). Preseason weekly training loads and injury rates for professional rugby league players. The training load for the forwards injury.081).776). In addition.809 arbitrary units are shown in Figure 1.Training Load and Injury preseason (2.000.05) injury rate (8.9 arbitrary units). p .7 6 3. Only 5% of the total of injury (9).827). The the majority of injuries being transient in nature.4 6 942.190.478). This relationship is of great interest to many involved in rugby league.081). ﬁndings may indicate that training loads were adequate and fullback positions. was 2. they can train at signiﬁcant relationship between the preseason weekly injury higher intensities.212.3 6 6. the present recover and resume normal training.3.281). compared with the The majority of injuries sustained in this study were to the adjustables 2. p = tackled (14).3 arbitrary units and the outside lower body.17). p = 0. and group were signiﬁcantly greater during the early preseason this makes this area more prone to injury.7 arbitrary units) (F = 15.3 per 1. hooker.15.9 per 1. Additionally. Physical and preseason period. and total psychological data (rho = 0.10) who also reported higher training intensities in Table 3. which may increase the incidence of injury. the majority of injuries Psychological Status.5 arbitrary units.890. when (3.809. p = 0. These ÔadjustablesÕ playing group included the halfback.248. df = 1.000 training hours was recorded. The average weekly preseason training relatively low for professional athletes. of the season. p = 0. p = 0.501. training loads and psychological data (r = 0.4 per 1.3 arbitrary units. The average weekly training loads for the playing around the hips or thighs of the attacking players (24). there was no may suggest that when players feel healthier.665. training strain (r = preseason training period compared to the competition phase 0. p = 0. Previous investigations have suggested that signiﬁcant difference during the preseason in the training most injuries are received by the ball carrier while being loads among the positional playing groups (F = 0. the arms and shoulders 2082 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research the TM Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.002).510.501. resulting in no loss in training and requiring no mance and physical ﬁtness without increasing the incidence modiﬁcation to the training program. compared to the late tackles are aimed at the upper body. whose aim is to ﬁnd a training The majority (6.088. resulting in no loss in training There was no signiﬁcant relationship between players’ time and no necessary modiﬁcations to the training program. These ﬁndings are consistent with the work of p = 0. and the Ôoutside backsÕ included the to improve ﬁtness without unduly increasing the incidence of wing and center positions.414) Analysis did identify a trend toward higher injury rates with or the total physical and psychological status and training greater psychological scores (rho = 0. which is consistent with results from previous backs 2. DISCUSSION This study is the ﬁrst to examine the relationship between training load and injury incidence over the preseason period in professional rugby league playFigure 1. and Injury Incidence sustained were only minor.000 training hours).023.4 6 926. injuries resulted in the player needing more than 2 weeks to In contrast to much of the related research (8. The relationship between training load and injury rate is The weekly training loads of 2. Most coaches will instruct players to aim tackles 0. The higher training loads during the ﬁrst half of the preseason corresponded to a higher (x 2 = 2. 0. Additionally. and durations during the preseason period. with that there was no difference among the subgroups. There was no studies (11. In addition.323. p = 0. This load (r = 0. p = 0. ers.9).2 6 954. an injury load of positional playing groups was compared to ensure rate of only 6.216.6 per 1.000 training hours) in comparison to the second half of the preseason (5. Weekly training loads were higher during the 14-week training monotony (r = 0. The weekly preseason team data are shown Gabbett (9. particularly coachSeverity of Injury ing and conditioning staff. rate and the weekly training load (r = 0. .9 6 641. 60%) of training injuries were program that will elicit an improvement in playing perfortransient. study found no signiﬁcant relationship between training load and the incidence of training injuries during the 14-week Relationship between Training Load.
TJ. 7. DA and Gabbett. CL. 2004. C. 6. 17. L. 2001. Gabbett. support staff. Gabbett. 1992. Aust J Sci Med Sport 29: 91–94. Blandin. Impellizzeri. Graf-Baumann.Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research can be used to defend and protect. However a trend toward greater injury rates with higher psychological scores was identiﬁed. AJ. Rampinini. 15. and White. 2009. Severity and cost of injuries in amateur rugby league: A case study. Robertson. Kerr. suggests that professional. 2004. Am J Sports Med 33: 428–434. Coutts. 13. Although the present study has found no signiﬁcant relationship between training loads and injury rates. MR. Champaign. injury rates. Monitoring exercise intensity during resistance training using the session RPE scale. and ensuring players return to training with a minimum standard of physical ﬁtness. ¨ Rosch. Of interest was the ÔspikeÕ in injury rates 2083 Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. R. 2000. 12. Gradual increases in training loads during this period. 8. Gibbs. all previous studies have examined the training–injury relationship in amateur or semiprofessional rugby league players. Use of RPE-based training load in soccer. None of the previous studies have examined the relationship between training load and injury rate in the preseason period among professional athletes. J Sports Sci 22: 409–417. the present study found no relationship between training load and injury rates in a cohort of professional rugby league players during a 14 week preseason training period. VOLUME 24 | NUMBER 8 | AUGUST 2010 | PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS Monitoring training loads is critical to ensure that players receive a progressively overloaded periodized training program and are given adequate recovery between highvolume and high-intensity sessions. Day. Chomiak. Gissane. 2004. and Dodge. whereas the legs are more exposed to heavy contact. TJ. P. Professional sporting clubs also have a far more thorough injury prevention program than amateur and semiprofessional teams. Dietitians are often available to assist in recovery from exercise. Stephenson. Metz. Doleshal. J Sci Med Sport 12: 12-19. J Strength Cond Res 15: 109–115. 16. and White. J Strength Cond Res 18: 353–358. Dvorak. and Goss. 18. Med Sci Sports Exer 24: 94–99.nsca-jscr. Borg’s Perceived Exertion and Pain Scales. 2003. T. Franklin. the TM | www. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30: 1164–1168. TJ. Gottschall. 2004. LA. REFERENCES 1. Florhaug. One would also expect professional rugby league players to be more skilfull. 2005. 9. Risk factors for injury in subelite rugby league players. 1998. With vastly different training loads. 1998. may reduce the incidence of injury in this training period. The increased injury rate. it is possible that increased ﬁtness may increase training intensity and subsequently increase injury rates (9). JA. J Sci Med Sport 11: 565–565. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36: 1042–1047. R. Although these results are difﬁcult to reconcile. FL. Am J Sports Med 21: 696–700. A. TJ. AJ. JA. Epidemiological studies of injuries in rugby league: Suggestions for deﬁnitions. Gissane. C. Relationships between training load.e. In summary. J. Jennings. Am J Sports Med 28: 69–74. and Marcora. J. McGuigan. J Sports Sci 25: 1507–1519. TJ. D. and ﬁtness in sub-elite collision sport athletes.org toward the end of the preseason period. It has also been shown that well-developed maximal aerobic power offers a protective effect against injuries in rugby league players (11). coupled with the higher training loads in the early preseason period. C. L. K. Br J Sports Med 38: 743–749. Brince. CC. Peterson. Several factors distinguish this study from the majority of others that have investigated the relationship between training load and injury rates. C. L. professional players would be expected to have a higher base level of ﬁtness entering the preseason. and Hodgson. Junge. 11. G. it would be difﬁcult to compare ÔamateurÕ players (i. Psychological data may therefore be useful in determining when a player is at increased risk of injury.. Incidence of injury in semi-professional rugby league players. Gabbett. C. . with a greater emphasis on preventive strategies including ﬂexibility and stretching. Hrovatin. A New approach to monitoring exercise training. when training loads were lowest. A. J. IL: Human Kinetics. FM. E. Gabbett. and Foster. male rugby league players returning from the off-season period may be at greater risk of training load-related injuries. C. compared to amateur and semiprofessional players. and physiotherapists address musculoskeletal problems. Burdett. 2002. Cumine. which would potentially help them avoid certain situations or positions that could cause injuries. SM. D. Borg. Monitoring training in athletes with reference to overtraining syndrome. and Hodgson. RJ. 3. The validity of regulating exercise intensity by ratings of perceived exertion. 10. TJ. DC. J Sports Sci 19: 341–347. N. Reductions in pre-season training loads reduce training injury rates in Rugby League players. Parker. Gissane. Foster. Sports Med 32: 211–216. King. 5. Firstly. Gabbett. Dunbar. It is important for sport scientists and strength and conditioning coaches to determine the appropriate training loads and recovery periods to maximize improvements without unduly increasing injury incidence. G. 4. Baun. Foster. data collection and reporting methods. S. Training injuries in New Zealand amateur rugby league players. appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs. Gabbett. JA. A pooled data analysis of injury incidence in rugby league football. there was a trend toward a higher injury incidence with higher psychological data scores. ML. 1997. TJ and Domrow. Injuries in professional rugby league: A three-year prospective study of the South Sydney Professional Rugby League Football Club. 2007. R. Differences in the incidence of injury between rugby league forwards and backs. King. 1993. Br J Sports Med 37: 36–45. 14. SE. Risk factor analysis for injuries in football players: possibilities for a prevention program. N. 2. Inﬂuence of training and match intensity on injuries in rugby league. K. DA. TJ and Domrow. Higher ﬁtness levels would enable them to exercise at higher intensities and for longer periods before fatigue. MF. Gabbett. 2001. those who do not receive match payments) and ÔsemiprofessionalÕ players (those who receive moderate remuneration to play) to professional rugby league players. who generate their entire income from their involvement in rugby league (7). Jennings. Sassi. injury. 2007. and training programs. N.
23. Subject-related risk factors for sports injuries: A 1-yr prospective study in young adults. J Sci Med Sport 2: 153–162. 24. The relationship of stress. and Forrest. DJ. Worsham. F. Orchard. B. Harman. BD. KL. EA. RE. 1993. Reynolds. . 1993. Seward. 22. Football injuries in Australia at the elite level. and Chalmers. and social support to athletic injury. R. L and Flint. Time and motion analysis of professional rugby league: A case study. 2001. PN. MB. Milburn. KL. H. competitive anxiety. mood state. A. and Backus. Quarrie. Blom. Med J Aust 159: 298–306. J. 21. HC. Molendijk. Injuries in women associated with a periodized strength training and running program. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28: 1171–1179. Lavallee. Twisk. and Hazard. 2084 Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research the TM Copyright © National Strength and Conditioning Association Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited. VL.Training Load and Injury ´ 19. Strength Cond Coach 1: 24–29. 1999. J Athl Train 31: 296–299. Meir. D. Sykes. and Kemper. The nature and circumstances of tackle injuries in Rugby Union. 1996. PD. J. Snel. W. M. 20. Van Mechelen. Wilson. J. 1996. H. J Strength Cond Res 15: 136–143. Arthur. Frykman.