Team rugby fitness training
If you are a coach your main concern is; How can I get my players to perform at their best on match day? The quickest way is to simply have them turn up on a Saturday “fitter” than they used to be previously. When I say fitness, I mean being prepared to handle the demands of rugby. Something that most rugby training sessions lack.
Team training is the time when you have all your players together in one place. This is the ideal time to perform group fitness training yet I rarely see a structured fitness training programme put in place, especially during the in-season.
I find this baffling. I know that any team who focused on their fitness twice a week throughout the year using would almost ensure they finished much higher up the league without even adding in the coaching, technique and skill work.
Team training needs to make sure that the sessions focus on what many people have difficulty doing in their own time. Incorporating sprint training, agility training, plyometrics and more is crucial to the development of the player regardless of current standard or ability.
Some of the reasons cited for not doing fitness is that the lads will not come to training as they do not like fitness. This is because most coaches only give their players aerobic fitness drills.
Army training vs rugby training?
Almost all fitness training at rugby clubs is in the form of some sort of aerobic circuit training or army style fatiguing exercises. While rugby certainly has some aerobic demands and fatiguing situations it has equally as many strength and power encounters that need to be won. In general rugby players are strength and power athletes and not aerobic athletes (these guys are at your local running clubs and doing marathons). Therefore your training should appeal to the athletes you have.
Your training should be using elements of agility, plyometrics, sprinting training as well as incorporating strength training exercises within your session (not strength endurance/fatigue training). This can be added to flexibility and aerobic training which most clubs already do. However, with some key tweaks to it you can also modify the training results!
The development of player skill is the responsibility of your rugby drills. However skill and fitness are inter related. The more fatigued a player becomes the lower the skill levels and worse their execution efficiency becomes.
Most rugby clubs are a strange mix of skill developing being done by tired players. This fails to develop their fitness to any great extent and also prevents them learning the skill. A player should learn a new skill fatigue free. Once mastered different levels of fatigue can be introduced to challenge the player.
Player should also have each element of their game broken down and taught so that they have the behaviour ingrained into them (why and what to do). This will result in your players automatically choosing the right decisions in a game and not blowing ‘that over lap’ as so often is seen week in week out.