Improve Your Rugby Game With These Tips
4 Tips to Explode Your Rugby Game Performance.
After a long and hot summer in the UK, the realisation is that winter is coming thick and fast. Many rugby clubs are already a month into their pre-season training and the first game of the season will creep up on you sooner than you know. If you have missed the ship, don’t worry, there is still time to get you into shape before the start of the season. Follow these tips to explode your rugby game performance and make this season your best yet.
THE VIDEO: Improve Your Rugby Game | 4 Tips to Explode Your Performance
Move well and be progressive
We often hear rugby players say “I’m not a powerlifter, I don’t need to go to full depth”. Full depth squatting and bench pressing may not be completely specific to rugby but building a foundation of strength in a full range of movement is crucial before venturing onto more specific work. You might not be able to lift as much weight as you could previously, with poor form but then again, you aren’t a powerlifter so why does that matter? Rugby is a very multi-disciplined sport. You may find yourself having to produce force in all kinds of compromised positions so building strength and stability in a full range of movement is completely necessary if you want to prevent your self from getting injured and performing at your best. If you use a high load within a limited but specific range, as soon as your limb is taken past that specific range it will be unstable and more susceptible to injury. Be progressive with your loading but stick to the full range. It takes time to build strength. You can’t expect to see 5 kg improvements week in and week out unless, you are either a beginner or have a very good chemist. When you have built strength over a larger range of movement, you can then start to consider more specific movements like step ups, lateral movements and rotational movements.
If you have 6 weeks left until the beginning of the season, we’d recommend performing the classic 5-3-1 two times through. On the first week, perform 4×5 at about 75-80%. The second week, perform 4×3 at around 80-85% then, on the third week, perform 4×1 at 85-90%. When you have completed one cycle, repeat with a slightly higher load, around 5kg. This can be performed on your compound barbell lifts such as your back squat, bench press and the deadlift.
To become fast, you must train fast
Rugby is a field-based sport so it makes sense that you need to train on the field too. When you are preforming acceleration, speed and agility practice, make sure that you are performing them at the highest intensity. Spend the first 5 minutes of each drill working on the skill and perfecting the footwork. When you feel comfortable, it’s time to bring the heat. Attack each rep with full intensity to make the neural adaptations you require to improve your speed. Make sure that you are resting between sets and are fully rested before completing the next rep. This way you can keep the intensity high and speed fast. Remember that your speed sessions are not to improve your conditioning and your energy systems. They are to develop your speed.
If you have 6 weeks before the first game of the season, you can make some great speed improvements over this time. Spend the first two weeks working on your acceleration and deceleration before going onto more change of direction and agility-based work. Weeks three and four should be spent refining your accelerations and decelerations and then adding cuts and turns in different directions in different combinations. The last 2 weeks, you should grab a partner and put all your work into practice with agility-based tasks and some small sided game practice that is going to keep you sharp on your toes and ready to step on the field.
Replicate the demands of your rugby game
Yes, you do need to last the entire 80 minutes of a rugby game if that is required from you. However, that doesn’t mean that going for 80-minute-long runs at a slow pace is going to make you a better rugby player. Rugby is intermittent in nature and involves high intensity bursts of speed, power and strength so this is what you need to replicate during your energy system development sessions.
Your sprint and agility training should look after your PCR system if you are getting enough rest so we will focus on your aerobic system and your anaerobic system in relation to the game.
You may want to perform this after your rugby training session because of the lower intensity nature of the session or even better, on a separate day. Perform a tempo shuttle run between the two touch lines. This should be a steady run not a sprint. If you start to feel the burn in your legs or are panting out of your chest you are going way too fast. Make sure the pace is sustainable for the entire shuttle. Note down the time it takes to perform the full shuttle, 2 lengths of the pitch, and use this as your rest time. Perform these 8 times. A work to rest ratio of 1:1 at a steady but consistent pace will increase your VO2 max, your body’s maximal ability to use oxygen as a fuel source, which, is the foundation for all energy system demands. With an increased aerobic capacity, you will recover fuller and faster between high intensity bouts of exercise and you will last longer on the field.
Perform a 10-metre sprint shuttle every 20 seconds six times through. Rest for 90 seconds before repeating another 2 times. This work to rest ratio within the set is around 1:4 which, will develop your ability to buffer lactic acid and waste products away from your muscles and recover between intermittent bouts of exercise. Ideally, these sessions should be done separately from your speed sessions to take advantage of the full training without any contrasting adaptations. However, if you are pushed for time throughout the week you can perform these sessions after your sprint and agility training.
Recover from your rugby game
You don’t get better in the gym, you get better when you sleep. If you are training hard, 4-5 times a week, you need to allow your body to recover. More is not always better especially, when it comes to high intensity training like lifting weights and sprinting. You should allow for at least 2 recovery days whilst you are training. This could be one day during the week and one day on the weekend. These two recovery days are the most important part of your training. Eat well and sleep well to recover as fully as possible. Aim for 8hours of sleep a night when you are training.
Your week may look like this:
Monday – Speed and Agility + Anaerobic training
Tuesday – Rugby skills and Weight Training.
Wednesday – Rest
Thursday – Weight training
Friday – Speed and Agility
Saturday – Rugby Skills + Aerobic Training
Sunday – Rest
This is just an example of what the week might look like if you were doing 2 weight training sessions a week, 2 rugby specific training sessions and 2 energy system development sessions. Manipulate the training schedule as much as you need to work around your life but make sure that you have rest days within your week. Otherwise, you will burn out and are likely to get injured.
Step 1 is to address your movement. Step 2 is to make you faster. Step 3 is to ensure you are prepared for the energy demands of the game and step 4 is to ensure you recover between training and games. When the season starts, you will not be able to keep all of this training up as well as play 1-2 games of full intensity rugby throughout the week. Your training and games will look after your speed, agility and fitness so you may want to drop the energy system development sessions and keep the strength training down to twice a week. Stick to these tips and you are sure to have your best season yet!
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