Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
from September 2014
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2010) 09, 445 - 451

Research article
Modification of Agility Running Technique in Reaction to a Defender in Rugby Union
Keane W. Wheeler1, , Mark G.L. Sayers2
Author Information
1 National Institute of Sport Studies, University of Canberra,
2 School of Health and Sports Science University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia

Keane W. Wheeler
✉ Polytechnic Institute of Bragança, Department of Sport Sciences. Quinta de Santa Apolónia; Apartado 1101, 5301-856 Bragança, Portugal
Publish Date
Received: 17-04-2010
Accepted: 01-07-2010
Published (online): 01-09-2010
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Three-dimensional kinematic analysis examined agility running technique during pre-planned and reactive performance conditions specific to attacking ball carries in rugby union. The variation to running technique of 8 highly trained rugby union players was compared between agility conditions (pre-planned and reactive) and also agility performance speeds (fast, moderate and slow). Kinematic measures were used to determine the velocity of the centre of mass (COM) in the anteroposterior (running speed) and mediolateral (lateral movement speed) planes. The position of foot-strike and toe-off was also examined for the step prior to the agility side- step (pre-change of direction phase) and then the side-step (change of direction phase). This study demonstrated that less lateral movement speed towards the intended direction change occurred during reactive compared to pre-planned conditions at pre-change of direction (0.08 ± 0.28 m·s-1 and 0.42 ± 0.25 m·s-1, respectively) and change of direction foot-strikes (0.25 ± 0.42 m·s-1 and 0.69 ± 0.43 m·s-1, respectively). Less lateral movement speed during reactive conditions was associated with greater lateral foot displacement (44.52 ± 6.10% leg length) at the change of direction step compared to pre-planned conditions (41.35 ± 5.85%). Importantly, the anticipation abilities during reactive conditions provided a means to differentiate between speeds of agility performance, with faster performances displaying greater lateral movement speed at the change of direction foot- strike (0.52 ± 0.34 m·s-1) compared to moderate (0.20 ± 0.37 m·s-1) and slow (-0.08 ± 0.31 m·s-1). The changes to running technique during reactive conditions highlight the need to incorporate decision-making in rugby union agility programs.

Key words: Agility, decision-making, kinematic analysis, locomotion, side-step, rugby football

           Key Points
  • Changes to running technique occur when required to make a decision.
  • Fast agility performers use different stepping strategies in reactive conditions.
  • Decision-making must be incorporated in agility training programs.
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