There are certain God-given abilities that elite athletes possess that simply cannot be coached. Natural talent is likely the primary factor that separates great athletes from good athletes. Therefore, It is important for the non-elite athletes to focus on the physical and mental qualities that they can improve to continually develop their abilities.
An important area of research in our field pertains to determining predictors of athletic performance for different sports among different ages, levels and genders. This research provides insight into what physical qualities are required for success in the given sport, and therefore what should be developed in training. It provides rationale for specific performance tests and provides bench marks or standards for athletes and coaches.
Females are an often underrepresented group in this area of research. However, a new study published ahead of print in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance evaluated predictors of performance in women’s rugby seven’s players. Twenty-four national level players were tested in a battery of performance tests including acceleration, speed, strength, lower body power and aerobic fitness. Subsequently, the athletes were divided into two groups based on performance. This was done based on playing time minutes in international competition. The athletes who played higher minutes were considered to be the higher performance group for obvious reasons.
The results showed that the higher performance group had a faster 1600 m run time, a higher bench press and a higher neutral-grip pull up. These were the best predictors of performance and discriminated the high performers from the low performers. This suggests that aerobic fitness and maximal upper body strength may be key performance indicators for female rugby seven’s. Therefore, when athletes are of similar speed and lower body strength, these other factors should be considered when evaluating players.
Goodale, TL., et al. (2015) Relationship Between Physical Qualities and Minutes Played in International Women’s Rugby Sevens, International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, Ahead of print.