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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

Speed development - agility, training and testing

Warm-up - should closed or open agility tasks be performed?

Typically, players complete a progressive warm-up before training, practice and competition. When discussing team performance, however, opinion has been divided as to whether the warm-up should be mainly open skill dominant (implying that the warm-up consists of game related random activities). For Rugby players, this would mean completing 3 v 3 possession type mini games in the warm-up.

Closed skill dominant warm-ups would be more regimented and display more patterned drills and activities. For example, the rugby player would be involved in planned line running and passing to his left or right as the case may be. To help us understand the effectiveness of closed versus open warm-ups on subsequent performance, Gabbeth et al (2008) investigated the relative merits of these different warm-ups.

One warm-up included open skills (i.e. reactive movements) and the other included only pre-planned dynamic activities (i.e. closed skills) on the performance of speed, change of direction speed, vertical jump, and reactive agility in team sport athletes. Fourteen junior (mean +/- SD age, 16.3 +/- 0.7 year) team players participated in the study. Each player performed a standardised 7-minute warm-up consisting of general dynamic movements and stretching. After the general warm-up, players were randomly allocated into one of two groups that performed a dynamic 15-minute warm-up consisting entirely of open or closed skills.

Each of the warm-up conditions consisted of five activities of 3-minute duration. At the completion of the warm-up protocol, players completed assessments of reactive agility, speed (5, 10, and 20m sprints), change of direction speed (T-test), and vertical jump. The findings of the study noted that no significant differences were detected among warm-up conditions for speed, vertical jump, change of direction speed, and reactive agility performances.

The authors concluded by stating that the results of the study demonstrate that either open skill or closed skill warm-ups can be used effectively for team players without compromising performance on open skill and closed skill tasks.