Training as a rugby player can be extremely intensive nowadays, with players not only aiming to reach their maximum potential on the field, but also off the field in preparation. In preparation for any rugby game, fitness is of the highest priority. Match fitness levels can determine the ability to perform and on many occasions, can determine results. If fitness is not accounted for properly, elements of fatigue, lack of speed, agility and low can motivation can develop, delivering a lacklustre performance on the field. There is also a serious risk of injury, which no player wants exposed to. There are many ways players can maintain full fitness and give themselves the best possible chance to perform on game day.
- Mental Preparation
While focusing on fitness, it is important to prepare mentally.
- Being in the right frame of mind can go along way to training and performing better, giving motivation mentally to achieve goals.
- Relaxation must be exercised before and after every rugby game.
- Winding down and taking time to relax can reduce stress levels and lessen the risk of burnout.
Planning a fitness regime is one thing, but sticking to it is another. Players must learn to discipline themselves to train as they play, giving optimum results all round. Stick to a planned fitness scheme, and let yourself stray away from it.
Along with the mental side of fitness, nutritional intake is of equal importance. Consuming the correct foods can benefit players physically and mentally.
Carbohydrate foods such as pasta, chicken, rice, breads etc are suitable, giving players high amounts of energy which is burned off quickly during training and matches.
- Hydration levels must be maintained by drinking plenty of water (half a litre, two hours before training and game time)
- Warming up/Cooling down
Warming up and cooling down exercises and activities must be done before training and game time.
Stretching muscles correctly can enhance flexibility and longevity during training and games, giving the best possible chance to endure time on the field. Carry out simple sprinting and jogging exercises can warm the body up, and by repeating to a lesser extent can cool the body down after training and matches.
- Focus On Speed
The game is played at an incredible pace nowadays, and players must focus on speed to keep up with the run of play. Speed is a vital component in back play, and players in these positions work on this vigorously during weekly training to compete with the best.
- Activities such as shuttle runs, sprinting and jogging exercises can increase speed.
- Ball Skills
Practicing ball skills regularly at training leads to a better performance on the field.
- Practicing the basics such as handling the ball, passing, kicking and catching can reduce mistakes on the field.
- Aerobic Fitness – Interval Training
Interval training is a great way to build up aerobic fitness.
- Create a interval circuit with individual stations including skipping, jumping, squats, running and weightlifting can lift intensity and create a good variety when training.
- Strength Training
Increasing strength is a must when competing in many facets of a rugby game. Strength training is recommended three times a week for players with backs and forwards training differently.
Forwards are encouraged to work on their upper body strength and legs, which increases scrummaging power and in rucks/mauls. Backs train to for both strength and endurance, as well as upper body strength needed for when running, and defending.
- Weight Training
Weight training has a range of benefits including better speed, power and injury prevention. It also benefits you mentally, knowing your body weight as where you want it to be at come game time. It is important to work on your entire body from your legs, hips, upper body, lower body and general muscle groups.
- Injury Prevention
Injury prevention is a integral part of fitness and can enhance your career in the game. There are many ways to prevent injury:
- Stretching, walming up, cooling down etc
- Wearing protective gear, head gear etc.
- Hydration, drinking water, correct fluids etc.
- Rehabilitation – Visiting doctor, physio when there is a problem, analyzing all aches and pains.
With the tempo rugby is played at the present, being fully fit is extremely important to all rugby players. Without adequate preparation and fitness training, enduring 80 minutes of rugby is almost impossible, and can lead to a short career in the game.