In 2013 Touch Football Australia and The National Rugby League combined to create a ‘wider rugby league family’. Touch Football is one of the many variants of rugby; there are three different positions ‘wing’, ‘link’ and ‘middle’. The outermost position in Touch Football is known as the ‘wing’, in this position you play on either the left or right side of the field. This position primarily scores the most touchdowns, when attacking the athlete should be on or near the sideline ready to receive the ball (Touch Dump, 2016). When received the ball he or she’s movement should be quick angular movements trying beat the opponent in front or run through the gap. In some circumstances, you will pass off the ball to someone else. When defending a winger will usually slide or tuck in if the ball is at the opposite end to prevent openings or gaps. He or she should also be aware of the opposition winger scoring outside of them. Comparing the movements to the position ‘middle’ or ‘centre’ is very different. When attacking the middle will mainly receive and pass the ball to create plays and opportunities. The movements are straight and sideways rather than quick angular movements to beat opponents.
Figure 1 – Touch Football (www.austouch.com.au)
Within the sport of touch football, the main fitness components used in any position are cardiovascular endurance, coordination, agility, and speed. All these components determine the performance of a player, but some are less important. For example, the position of the wing rarely relies on the cardiovascular endurance factor because of the role it plays. The athlete playing on the wing would be explosive and sprint in short durations with intervals. Comparing this to the position of the middle, the role is the opposite. The component would be used throughout the whole game unless subbed off. A more critical fitness component for a winger would be speed, in sports terms, it is defined as ‘the ability to move quickly across the ground or move limbs rapidly to grab or throw’ (Top End Sports). The significance of this component determines whether you can beat and catch opponents. In this case, both positions use this factor, but the winger uses it frequently compared to the middle. Another common factor used by a winger is agility, meaning ‘the ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control’ (VeryWell Fit, 2017). A study was conducted by Touch Football Australia using a GPS to track an athlete playing touch football. The reason behind this was to demonstrate the turns and speed that the athlete has made. As seen in figure 2 it shows the sharp turns, in this example the player was playing the role of a middle. Sharp turns would occur more often for a winger this is why it is important for this component of fitness to be optimised. Agility can prevent a player from tagging you, and even determine whether you score. The ability to change directions quickly can shift your opponent’s centre of gravity giving you an advantage (Touch Dump).
Figure 2 – Touch Football Australia (www.nqtouch.com.au)
Another component being coordination is used in both positions. Firstly, coordination in sports term is the ‘ability to move two or more body parts under control, smoothly and efficiently’ (Top End Sports). Within touch football the ability to pass and catch is simple, but to be aware of the opponents and the ball is a challenge. Predominately this skill is used for wingers when making runs, unlike middles who will usually get touched (Touch Dump). The two types of co-ordination being hand eye and footwork. Hand and eye coordination is an important skill when passing and watching the opponent. Footwork is also a skill that is especially important for wingers to step and beat opponents.
Figure 3 – KarenHPE (karenhpe.wikispaces.com)
The eight-fitness tests include 30m dash, vertical jump, horizontal jump, beep test, push up test, sit and reach, max sit-ups and Illinois agility run. Although all of these tests would benefit a touch football player, some are not relevant to the positions. The vertical and horizontal jump would be less relevant because of the touch rule. Furthermore, the 30m dash’s results would be dominant for wingers over middles. Therefore, this test is primarily for wingers to improve and test their speed. The beep test is a fitness test that times your ability to run 20m shuttles; the test examines your cardiovascular endurance. The results of the test would lean towards the position of the middles. This is because their movements on the field are constant. The push-up and sit up test is a general fitness test used in all positions. The test analyses the amount of the sit-ups and push-ups you can complete in a certain amount of time. It helps to improve the muscular endurance in the arms, lower back and core. This test would help develop and test in both of the positions.
Another general fitness test is the sit and reach test; the procedure measures the flexibility of your lower back and hamstrings. Specifically, it tests the tightness in the lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt and lower back pain (Top End Sports). Flexibility can give an athlete a better range of motion, in touch football, this is important to allow your body to complete sharp turns. Poor flexibility can cause injuries such as tears and strains in muscles.
Figure 4 – Top End Sports (http://www.topendsports.com)
The Illinois agility test is a course that is aimed to test an athlete’s agility, hence the name. Agility is an essential fitness component that is used in any position in touch football. The wingers would usually receive a quicker time over the middles due to their pace and speed in changing direction.
Figure 5 – Brian Mac (www.brianmac.co.uk)
FITNESS TEST FITNESS COMPONENT BEING TESTED PREDOMINANT POSITION
Sit and Reach Flexibility All
30m Sprint Speed Wing
Illinois Agility Run Agility Wing
Sit Ups Local Muscular Endurance Middle
Push Ups Local Muscular Endurance Middle
Standing Long Jump Power All
Standing Vertical Jump Power All
20m Beep Test Aerobic Power Middle
Energy System Requirements:
The three energy systems used in touch football are the ATP-CP system, anaerobic glycolysis and aerobic glycolysis. The different positions in touch football will use a particular energy system predominantly. For example, the winger’s main source of energy would be ATP-CP this is because of the explosive and short runs that a winger will make. The phosphagen system produces a high amount of energy, but has a low capacity, this type of energy system suits the position. The winger is able to resynthesise its energy sources as he or she runs in intervals, the athlete would either be waiting for the ball or making runs. After 2-3 minutes the stores of ATP are fully replenished giving enough time for the wingers to refill its store. If the winger uses its ATP-CP system for more than 10 seconds, the use of the lactic acid system or anaerobic glycoses will become the dependent energy system. This is known as ‘interplay’, meaning one energy source or system will become predominant after one is depleted. Comparing this to the position ‘middle’, is completely different. The middle’s primary energy source is aerobic glycolysis; the position relies on constant running compared to the winger’s high intensity and short duration. As the middles, are running continuously and not in intervals, but middles will also use the ATP-CP system on fast breaks swapping from aerobic to anaerobic. To resynthesise energy, the player is substituted at any point in the match (Study Moose).