Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Day 25 of August pre season training tips: weights by David Clarke

August 25


I am not going to be giving specific weights programmes in this post. There are three good reasons. First, players have different access to gym facilities. Second, every player has different needs that require specific programmes to match their position. And last, weights should be used under supervision.

What I can tell you is this:
1. You need to encourage excellent habits when using weights and being in the gym. If you are not a qualified conditioner yourself, the players should be taking advice from someone else who has the team’s interests at heart.
2. You need to help plan when players use the gym. But don’t be rigid. I know top players who have done weights on the morning of the match! Obviously it did not fatigue them and it was a personal preference.
3. Pre season is a time when the players can lift heavier weights than during the season. They are in a “growing” stage of the year, whereas during the season they are in a maintenance stage.

And when can young players start lifting weights? As early as you want according to the research BUT under strict guidelines, which in the main help youngsters develop good techniques, and not lift heavy weights.

Better Rugby Coaching

Day eighteen of the August pre season training tips: cutting edge by David Clarke

August 18

Cutting edge

You can create a cutting edge in your team over pre season. In a previous blog, I talked about improving your speed of thought (Day 12). You want to be able to generate a team that can impose itself on other teams.
Here are five ways to “impose” yourself on other teams, and use pre season to start this process:
1. Become fitter in the areas where you have a strength. If you are a large team who likes set piece, work harder on upper body work. If you are a fast team who like to keep the ball alive, then work on speed and stamina. You might say “how about our weaknesses”? Well, be strong in what you can do first and then the other areas will start to fall into place as the season unfolds.

2. Develop and practise a few “killer” moves from set pieces and second phases. Have these as near to perfect as you can. Only then start on the next set of moves.

3. Work on “chunking” a game into segments of time. How do you play in the first five minutes. What you might do from 5 to 20 minutes if you are ahead or behind. How do you aim to finish the first half. Think about the fatigue elements. If players focus on these chunks of time, the scoreboard and all the psychological effects it can have on the players become less important.

4. Build a defence culture that celebrates success. If the ball is turned over, or the opposition has to kick, make sure the team acknowledge this and the opposition know about it.

5. Know what “tempo” wins you games. Does your side like to play with pace, use set piece and play close to the breakdown, or break the game up with kicks? Know this and then you can aim to capture that in the game. Pre season is an ideal time to work on the specifics of how the tempo of your game develops.

Better Rugby Coaching

31 days of August pre season tips by David Clarke
August 2, 2010, 8:08 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness, Rugby Training | Tags: , ,

31 days and 31 tips for pre season

Here are 31 days worth of ideas that you can start using today as your prepare for the new season. They are tried and tested methods of improving players and teams.

Each day you will get an idea droppedto the blog. Comment and add your own ideas on that.
Enjoy and good luck.

August 1
Rugby position specific fitness

Props scrummage and ruck, wingers sprint.

Split the players into positional groups during training to work on more specific fitness to their positions. During this fitness, base fitness will improve, but the players can replicate what they are likely to be doing in the game.

For example:
Front five:
Two minutes physical: try boxing ruck pads, wrestling, 1 v 1 tackling.
One minute running
One minute explosive running
One minute lifting: heavy bags, other players
One minute footwork and contact

Back three:
Two minutes long sprints: a length of the pitch every 30 seconds
One minute physical
One minute explosive running
One minute sprint and jog backs
One minute footwork and contact

Train as you will play during training sessions. Work hard for the exercises, then a proper rest in between before returning to hard work. Encourage good rest and then encourage intensity.

Better Rugby Coaching

The IRB strength and conditioning website by David Clarke
December 3, 2009, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , , ,

IRB launch free strength and conditioning guide

From the IRB:

“On this site, you will learn about the basics of Health and Safety, Exercise Instruction, Gymnasium Induction & Environment and via our online learning system you can start on the pathway to achieving Strength and Conditioning accreditation, as recognised by the IRB.

This exciting format connects basic exercises to the dynamics of the Game. The learning process uses the written word along with video demonstration and real time international game footage, as shown opposite and below.

Modular additions will logically be provided on a quarterly basis followed by the Level 2 qualification in September 2010.”

You need to complete the Rugby Ready strength and conditioning course.

The link to visit is here.

Better Rugby Coaching

A rugby fitness drill by David Clarke
November 6, 2009, 11:37 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , ,

Here is an interesting fitness drill which should be easy to set up. What do you think?

It is described as: A rugby fitness drill designed to improve fitness around the contact area with an emphasis on low body angle and height

Better Rugby Coaching

Fitness for rugby is overrated by David Clarke
August 12, 2009, 8:45 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: , ,

You are constantly facing a dilemma at training. Unless you are working with a semi-pro or fully professional team, it is unlikely you have any direct supervision over the players’ fitness training. So you have to either trust that fitness will be done outside training, or make fitness a part of your session.

Some coaches will swear by a vigorous fitness preseason, where the players spend more time running and pushing than working on skills. The hybrid coach will have more skills work. And any other coach is just a fool?

Personally, I have been through a number of regimes. There are hills on the outskirts of Bristol that I never want to see the bottom of.

However I was superfit at the start of some of the seasons, injury permitting. And yet the first couple of games were excruciatingly hard work on the lungs. My legs felt like lead and it seemed that no amount of training had been effective.

Then someone said to me that I didn’t run up hills on the pitch, or run backwards and forwards constantly for five minutes. As a winger I probably did about 20 full on sprints, made about 20 contacts and some other bits and pieces, plus some running to get into position. Easy work in comparison to the forwards of course, but their conclusions were the same

I am still saying there is value in aerobic conditioning or weights programmes. However, and this is the key, all the programmes have to be specific to the player’s position and the player in question. If you are going to be using training for some or all of your fitness, make it individual. Or put it another way. Make any unit skills session highly intentive and game related. Then the players will be replicating what happens on the pitch, skills and fitness wise.

Don’t get the players fit for rugby, get them rugby fit.

Better Rugby Coaching

Active rugby warm up routine by David Clarke

Here is a warm up routine that has the following great attributes:
1. It works the whole body.
2. It’s organisational – it promotes teamwork.
3. It’s reactive – there is no set pattern.
4. It is rugby related.

AND, it is easy to replicate across all levels.

Better Rugby Coaching

Rugby training doesn’t need fit balls by David Clarke

Here is an article on why we might spend too much time worrying about training the core muscles when in fact we do it naturally anyway.
The key findings are (lifted from the article):
“Core stability was born out of a specific problem: lower back pain,” says Diane Kheir, an osteopath who lectures on core stability. “It was never meant to apply to the general population, and for most people, there are better ways of working these muscles. Rather than have everyone lie on the floor with their legs in the air, exercise classes would be better teaching correct standing, sitting and transferring of weight from one leg to another. Teachers could ensure that participants learn moves that relate either to their normal daily tasks or their sports.”

“Core stability training isn’t tailored to most sports,” says Professor Eyal Lederman, an osteopath whose research centres on the development of neuromuscular and movement rehabilitation. In other words, it doesn’t replicate the activities involved in those sports. “The message from the research is: don’t worry about your core muscles and train in the activity you enjoy,” he says.

Core stability training does have its uses, though. “The core should work naturally,” says Kheir. “It’s what’s known as a ‘pre-anticipatory’ muscle group – it fires before other muscles fire. The only time it won’t kick in is if someone has lower back pain, or has had some kind of abdominal surgery or injury, in which case the person may need help in trying to locate and recruit it again.”

For a further view, read this article by Roy Palmer called Core Stabilty or Pure Stupidity?
Better Rugby Coaching

From small pitch to large pitch by David Clarke
January 20, 2009, 11:12 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Training | Tags: , ,

 Kids rugby

I have just read some interesting concerns on the Better Rugby Coaching forum about the way to help players make the transition from a small pitch to a large rugby pitch. Coaches are rightly worried about their players’ rugby fitness, the change in rugby tactics and what happens when the players can kick from anywhere.

In short, the players will find a larger pitch a fitness challenge and the kicking changes the shape of the game, but mastery of the basics remains the core element.

The five best sports to learn from (3) by David Clarke

Greco-Roman wrestling

In the January 2008 edition of Rugby Coach I explained how Greco-Roman wrestling could be used in rugby training. Here are the reasons for using it in your training.

3. Greco-Roman wrestling

Fitness. A minute bout of wrestling is tiring and closely related to rucking, mauling and scrummaging in terms of the type of physical activity used. Try six rounds with your team over a period of ten minutes.

Conditioning. The methods used in Greco-Roman wrestling use similar muscle groups to those in the contact area.

Techniques. Body positions and grips can be replicated in rugby.

Mind. The domination of an opponent requires mental as well as physical prowess.

Discipline. It is not the angry wrestler that wins the contest, but the one who controls their aggression through strength and technique. Poor technique in a moment of madness can lead to penalties and misdirected moves, very much like rugby.

On Monday, I will look at golf.