Preseason training can vary from sport to sport. Some teams get just weeks to prepare athletes, some get a few months. Others are currently heading into preseason without a clear idea of when the season will actually start. No matter the situation, the principles remain the same.
About James de Lacey
James is currently the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach with Romanian Rugby. He previously worked with Austin Elite rugby, as well as professional rugby in Romania and with the NZ Women’s National Rugby League Team. He is a published author and has completed his masters degree at the Auckland Institute of Technology.
While great attention has been placed on how to train linear sprinting, in team sports running in a straight line is only a small part of the game. As players have to evade the opposition, sprinting is more often curvilinear and very rarely linear. Does this mean as coaches we should spend less time sprinting linearly and more time sprinting in a “sport-specific” curvilinear manner?
In most team sports, the ability to withstand high ground reaction forces with the lower limbs is one of the important keys to top level performance. The legs have to be strong. Thus begins the pursuit of heavier loads to build strong legs through to two-legged, high resistance exercises.
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads around the world, many of us have been or will be affected. This likely means self-isolation at home for at least two weeks. However, this isn’t an excuse to become a couch potato! Being inactive for weeks likely isn’t going to be good for your health or your sanity.
Core training is a staple in the training program of most athletes and general fitness goers. “Core” stability training arrived around the end of the 1990s and was largely derived from studies that demonstrated change in timing of activation of the trunk muscles in lower back pain. Core stability, the argument went, was the key to relieving chronic lower back pain. This has led to worldwide teaching of trunk bracing and “tummy tucking” for lower back pain and injury prevention.
Team sports require a mix of physical qualities to be trained concurrently due to the performance requirements, but one stands out above the others: speed. Speed is often the difference between elite and sub-elite teams. Speed is not just about that one breakaway play, it underpins all aspects of the game such as the overall tempo of play or the ability to execute skills at high speeds. Therefore, there should be an emphasis on training speed “in” within a structured training period.
A warm-up routine can be critical in increasing preparedness for subsequent effort and thus maximizing performance. However, the effectiveness of the warm-up routine appears to be dependent on many factors such as the type of sport, athlete fitness and experience, tasks to be performed, environmental conditions, and constraints imposed by event organizers. New research on warming up has attempted to quantify those factors, by synthesizing the results of 30 peer-reviewed studies on warming up in team sports.
Robust running is a topic that has been well covered by John Pryor on the HMMR Media website and classroom. It can be thought of as the ability to maintain consistent rhythm when negotiating different tasks or environments. By reinforcing a positive running posture, athletes build the ability to execute technical skills when presented with environmental perturbations such defensive players. Training athletes to better handle such perturbations helps them execute skills at higher speeds in wider range of positions.
Running is a staple in all rugby physical preparation programs due to players having to cover approximately 4km+ per match. However, being a collision sport, players will experience between 800-1200 impacts per game ranging from light (5-6g) to severe (10+g). Being well conditioned to impact is likely to reduce the risk of injury in contact and develop the ability to withstand many impacts in a match.