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TACKLE DIRECTION AND DOMINANT SIDE AFFECT UPPER BODY LOADING DURING RUGBY TACKLES
  1. Elena Seminati,
  2. Dario Cazzola,
  3. Ezio Preatoni,
  4. Keith Stokes,
  5. Sean Williams,
  6. Grant Trewartha
  1. Department for Health, University of Bath, Bath, United Kingdom

    Abstract

    Background Approximately 25% of Rugby Union injuries occur to players executing a tackle and they mostly involve upper-body regions.

    Objective To investigate how upper-body biomechanical loading changes depending on the tackle characteristics, such as side of body used and direction of approach.

    Design A repeated-measures study where a group of Rugby Union players performed full tackling trials against a bespoke tackle simulator. Two conditions (both within-group factors) were analysed: laterality (left/right shoulder) and direction (front/diagonal/lateral) of the tackler's approach.

    Setting A laboratory-based study.

    Patients (or Participants) Six male players (26.7±7.6 years, 1.82±0.09 m, 95.7±14.0 kg), all right-side dominant.

    Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Participants completed up to 2 dynamic tackles in each of the 6 testing conditions. A 40 kg punch-bag was accelerated manually to simulate the ball carrier and the tackler executed a full tackling movement bringing the punch-bag to the ground.

    Main Outcome Measurements Peak shoulder impact forces and head linear accelerations were measured through pressure sensors and inertial measurement units. Linear mixed models and magnitude-based inferences were used to assess differences between conditions.

    Results Dominant (right) shoulder tackles in the frontal direction generated the highest impact forces (5.3±1.0 kN), and overall they were substantially higher (by 15%) than non-dominant (left) shoulder tackles. Impact load decreased going from frontal to diagonal −3%) and lateral tackling (−10%). The lowest peak head accelerations (substantially lower [−5%] compared to frontal tackles) were recorded during diagonal tackles, with the right shoulder (9.1±3.5 g).

    Conclusions Both laterality (dominant side) and tackle direction have a substantial effect on the loads applied to the upper-body. Where feasible, the tackler should approach from a slightly offset angle from frontal and coaching should aim to reduce the deficiencies in tackling technique on the non-dominant side.

    • Injury

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