How To Get Faster For Rugby
Speed and agility is what sets apart good rugby players from great rugby players. A player’s ability to out-run or out manoeuvre their opponent will define their success on the field of play, making this a skill that can be trained and not something some people are born with. While it is true that some people’s genes make them more predisposed to explosive speed than others, in a game situation this speed must be properly applied to beat an opponent making learning how to get faster for rugby essential.
(Relevant: How To Become A Better Rugby Player)
First and foremost improving your strength will improve your speed, so if you are not strength trained this is a great place to start. Improving your maximum strength and speed of your lifts will increase your rate of force development because you are able to produce more force into the ground faster when running. However this article is going to focus on what you can do to improve your on-field speed outside of the weight room. The drills we discuss here will require you to self-organise your limbs into the correct movement patterns and shapes to produce quick movements. These will NOT include the use of ladders to achieve this. Ladder drills restrict your movement and do not allow you to discover the best means of performing speed and agility tasks, no matter how impressive they look on YouTube!
The wall drill is an excellent means of improving your body position as you accelerate and coaches you how to create good lines of force production. By maintaining a neutral spine, not breaking at the hips and extending fully through the knees and ankles force is expressed into the ground efficiently and will drive you forwards in acceleration. To progress on from this drills such as falling starts and partner assisted starts coach you to move your centre of mass forwards, outside of your base of support, which will improve your running posture and efficiency of force expression. Because rugby involves lots of ground-based activity, your ability to accelerate from the floor is paramount to your performance. Have some fun by trying out different starting positions and learning the quickest way to get up and into the acceleration positions that we have already discussed.
So far we have focussed on linear speed but rugby-specific speed is determined by your change of direction speed (CODS) and agility. Just as in linear speed drills CODS drills involve moving your centre of mass outside of your base of support and organising your lower limbs to drive you towards your destination. The difficulty lies in the most efficient means of doing this as movements such as the cross-step, side shuffle and hip turn all have their relevant place in CODS drills. The distance, direction and the time constraints of the movement depend on the movement pattern that you would utilise to reach your target destination.
You can advance these drills or create variety by increasing running speed, involving a stimulus to react to or adding competition with a training partner. If you are not used to these movements or drills then take the time to perform them slower and ensure that you are using the correct technique before increasing the intensity. Competency in these drills should be paramount as efficient technique performed explosively is what will beat your opponent on the field of play.
Remember that strength is only part of the puzzle so make sure you commit the time to getting outside or onto a track and practice moving with more speed and precision.