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This study investigated the relationship between 2 different assessments of tackling ability, physical qualities, and match-play performance in semiprofessional rugby league players. A total of 18 semiprofessional rugby league players (mean [SD]: age = 23.1 [2.0] y and body mass = 98.8 [11.8] kg) underwent tests of upper- and lower-body strength and power. Tackling ability was assessed using video analysis of under- and over-the-ball tackle drills. A total of 2360 tackles were analyzed from match play. Over-the-ball tackle ability was positively related to the proportion of dominant tackles (Spearman rank-order correlation coefficients [rs] = .52; 95% confidence interval [CI] .07–.79, P = .03) and average play-the-ball speeds (rs = .50; 95% CI .04–.78, P = .03) and negatively related to tackles that conceded offloads (rs = −.55; 95% CI −.78 to .04, P = .04). Under-the-ball tackle ability was significantly related to the proportion of dominant tackles (rs = .57; 95% CI .14–.82, P = .01) and missed tackles (rs = −.48; 95% CI −.77 to .02, P = .05). Good over-the-ball tacklers performed proportionally more dominant tackles, allowed significantly fewer offloads, and had longer average play-the-ball speeds. Good under-the-ball tacklers missed proportionately fewer tackles. This study suggests that both the under-the-ball and over-the-ball standardized tackle assessments are associated with varying indicators of match-play tackle performance and justifies the practical utility of these tests to assess and develop both types of tackles.


School of Exercise Science

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Journal Article

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