Athletic Development Rugby 

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Pre-season is all about getting the body & mind physically and mentally prepared for the rugby season, this also allows you to learn and bond with the team, players and coaches. Pre season can be up to 12-18 weeks focusing on:

  • Injury weaknesses
  • Conditioning the body/mind
  • Building muscle mass (For the amount of impact during the game)
  • Skill work
  • Nutrition & Recovery

It all starts with Athletic testing: 

At Joint Dynamics in our Sports&Exercise Science Department we use:

  • VO2 Max testing
  • Lactate Threshold testing
  • Bodpod testing for body composition

We also look at strategies for injury prevention and increased performance, taking athletes through the Gray Institute 3D Maps and running and gait analysis

In the gym we will choose from following tests to add to the objective information gathered:

  • Squat 5RM (Strength)
  • Bench Press 5RM (Strength)
  • Pull ups (Strength)
  • Vertical/Broad Jump (Explosive Strength)
  • Medicine ball Throws
  • 40m sprints
  • 5m by 5m sprints
  • Beep test

Undergoing these tests shows where you currently are and what to work on.

During my time playing as a Academy Player for London Wasps, we forgot about the rugby ball and focus on conditioning, injuries, recovery and nutrition. These are the main sources all athletes should be strict on when wanting to perform better in their sport. We had our own S&C trainers, Chef, Physios, Masseuse and Sport Nutritionist which helped me become a better rugby player.

We trained 4-5 days a week: in the gym 4-6 times a week and on the field conditioning 4-5 times a week, constantly training & learning day in, day out. Hypertrophy and Endurance is the first phase of the pre-season. Because of the amount of running, up-downs, sprints, wrestling, strongman and conditioning games, you will lose a ton of muscle so that’s when Hypertrophy comes in for 8-12 weeks. Not only that, you will need muscle mass for the season during the impacts and collisions.

Endurance is all about increasing your anaerobic fitness pushing through that lactic acid just like the final minutes of the game when you are all blown out and muscles are fatigued. Playing conditioning games such as touch with shuttle runs helps you make decisions under fatigue which are really important to be fit for and control. This phase prepares the body and mind for those final minutes.

I learnt a lot playing at professional level also with guys who played for England, Samoa, All Blacks, France and the British & Irish Lions. Having these experienced team mates helping me to develop my confidence on/off the field, understand the game better and made me train harder. Not only is it important to do the hard yards but its also equally important to know who your team mates are and why they are playing the game of rugby.

Strength Development 

Strength or explosive strength is key in the game of rugby: strengthen ligaments and tendons to minimise the risk of injuries. It also helps develop mental strength. Training explosive strength helps you avoid contact, accelerate quick off the mark and being more dominant during contact. Normally this is done during season as its short and sharp and not overly stressing the body like hypertrophy/endurance would.

Injury Weaknesses & Recovery 

Focusing and strengthening a pass or current injury is very important especially during pre-season. So when the season starts you are in tip-top shape and confident in all areas of the game, not worrying if you should step on that side or tackle with your best shoulder.

It is also important to recover well. During pre-season those 18 weeks are brutal and you need all the right ingredients to help your body/mind function to perform at its best: getting those 8-10 hours of sleep, the right food, stretching, ice baths, massage and hydrating, getting the right fluids in.

It all starts in pre-season: develop the best and become the best you could be. If you treat your body right, your body will treat you right.