The activity profiles of elite Wheelchair Rugby athletes

In order to prescribe athletes with more specific, individualised training programmes we need to understand the demands of the sport, but more importantly how the demands differ between athletes.

The Peter Harrison Foundation

In Wheelchair Rugby a classification system exists, which categorises players according to the severity of their impairment.

The aims of this research were to establish how the demands of competition varied between athletes of different classification and to understand what successful performance looked like in Wheelchair Rugby by comparing external measures of performance between different ranked teams during competition.


75 elite Wheelchair Rugby players from 11 international teams were monitored using the ITS across two international tournaments.

Players were categorised according to their International Wheelchair Rugby Federation (IWRF) classification system in to four groups: I (0.5), II (1.0-1.5), III (2.0-2.5), IV (3.0-3.5). Players were also grouped by team rank (LOW, MID, HIGH) dependent on their teams IWRF world ranking.

Performance was determined by the distance players covered, the speeds they reached and the time they spent in various intensity speed zones. Data were reported for individuals who played in full quarters and matches only.

Main findings and applications

  • During a typical quarter, higher classification groups covered more distance than lower groups except between III and IV.
  • Group IV reached higher peak speeds than all other groups.
  • Due to their role as defensive players, Groups I and II spent more time in ‘very low’ speed zones.
  • No significant decline in any performance variable was observed between quarters for athletes competing in full matches.
  • Players from LOW teams spent less time on court, which may be due to a lack of physical fitness, as more substitutions were performed by these teams.
  • No differences existed between team ranks for the relative distance covered.
  • Players from HIGH teams were capable of reaching higher peak speeds and spent more time in high speed zones than MID and LOW teams.


  • Rhodes JM, Mason BS, Perrat B, Smith M, Malone LA, Goosey-Tolfrey VL. (2014). Activity profiles of elite wheelchair rugby players during competition. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. 10: 318-325. DOI: 10.1123/ijspp.2014-0203
  • Rhodes JM, Mason BS, Malone LA, Goosey-Tolfrey VL. (2014). Effect of team rank and player classification on activity profiles of elite wheelchair rugby players. Journal of Sports Sciences. 33: 2070-2078. DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2015.1028087