Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Weight training for Under 12s by David Clarke

Here is an opinion on weight training for Under 12s from Mark Calverley, one of the main contributors to Rugby Coach Weekly. He is en experienced IRB level 4 rugby coach and conditioner.

I don’t think weight training is suitable for U12’s for a number of reasons:

Poor technique can lead to dangerous situations/injury
Needs to be expertly supervised 1 on 1 with real care take as to what exercises, reps, sets and exercise.

Time is precious when coaching kids – far better to work on skills than fitness

Fitness can be built in to ball work games/drills/exercises – this is more motivating and fun for kids and keeps them interested longer as they are getting fit without realising it and going through a ‘mental toughness’ session.

Kids of this age should be doing lots of running (up to 12 minutes continuous, but relay races, tag games (agility), sprints and fartlek.) The more that can be done through games the better. Body weight exercises that are good include press, ups, sit-ups, bridges, pull ups, no-weight squats, no-weight lunges, hurdles, skipping, shuttle sprints, hopping and bounding (in small doses with plenty of rest between) and short hill sprints (5-15m).

The key is to pitch it right for the kids – this is a balance between them having fun, challenge, learning and results. The exact mix of that is an art, not a science and depends on the amount of training time, the skill of the team, personality of the kids and their desire. It is really important that an (over) ambitious coach doesn’t see fitness as a shortcut for skill development.

I don’t see any real advantages in weights sessions for U12 kids – it is a recipie for disaster and not what they should be doing as part of their rugby development. I think the disadvantages far outweigh any small advantages that they may get. Technical, smart, skillful kids will always beat a fit kid with no skill.

Better Rugby Coaching


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