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 movement 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)
Fitness Components and Fitness Testing:
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 irrelevant. 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, sports terms meaning ‘the ability to move and change direction and position of the body quickly and effectively while under control’ (VeryWell Fit, 2017). A study completed by Touch Football Australia using a GPS to track and athlete playing touch football. As seen in figure 1 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 part 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).