If you’re looking to improve your overall speed out on the rugby pitch, then these tips from professional coaches will help…
There are four main points to follow when sprinting:
- A Relaxed Action – Movement is flowing and easy; hands are relaxed, shoulders are low. Try not to tense up when exerting maximum effort.
- A Smooth Action – Concentration should be on a forward motion with a smooth, rhythmic leg action. A slight 5% forward lean helps create this smooth action.
- A Tall Action – Body posture should be erect with foot contact restricted to the toes and not the heel as this creates a ‘sitting’ body posture.
- A Drive Action – Concentrate on thrusting elbows back as opposed to forcing fists forward. Drive with opposite rear leg to high knee with extension of the driving leg as far as possible.
EACH OF THESE CAN BE IMPROVED BY
- Seated Arm Action – While seated with back supported simulate sprinting arm action concentrating on thrusting the elbows back, keeping shoulders low, keeping hands loose and upper body relaxed. 5 X 30 second sets with 30 seconds rest between sets.
- High Skipping Action – Over 30 meters skip high and far with concentration on arm action and knee height. Do not rush this exercise; the higher and farther the skips the better as well as less time spent on the ground. 5 x 30 Meter sets with 30 seconds rest between sets.
- High Knee Power Sprints – Over 15 meters take small, powerful high knee steps concentrating on a slight lean forward, and leg extension and the top of the leg exercise. Walk 10 meters after each set and repeat 5 times. Once good technique is gained try this exercise holding a rugby ball in both hands to develop fluency with running with a ball in both hands.
The phase of acceleration is from the initial response to the top speed of sprinting. Improving this aspect of your sprinting is considered to be the most important aspect in rugby. Being able to accelerate into gaps or move into cover defence positions can create/prevent many scoring opportunities. To generate faster acceleration short, powerful sprint drill work best, sometimes with added weight. Concentration on leaning forward and driving low and hard during these short drills. A 45-60% degree angle is desired with eyes focusing forward ahead of you, not at the floor!
- Press Sprints – Complete 2 full press-ups and then sprint 15 meters. This helps to simulate game play where speed off the floor is essential. Maintain the low drive for about 10 meters at which time you should then move into full sprint mode. Walk back to the start and repeat. Try to complete 3 sets with 5 sprints per set; 3 minutes rest per set.
- Flying Sprints – Walk/ jog 10 meters then sprint 20 meters. Walk back to the beginning and repeat. Complete 3 sets with 5 sprints per set; 3 minutes rest per set.
- Start Stop Sprints – Walk 5 meters then sprint 10 meters, gradually slow down to 20% and then accelerate back up to 100% for 10 meters. Walk back to the start and repeat. 5 sprint sets with 2 minutes rest per sprint.
- Side To Side Sprints – Side skip in between 5 meter cones and sprint away 15 meters. Walk back to the beginning. Complete 3 sets with 5 sprints per set; 3 minutes rest per set.
With regard to added weight/ resistance; sprint training equipment is expensive for just one individual but worth grouping up together and purchasing. Resistance bands, power sleds, parachutes are all excellent for enhanced acceleration but should only be used once all of the above drills are mastered. No weight above 10% body weight should be used as this will cause injury and not actually generate any enhanced acceleration.
In order to improve on your top speed, longer sprints where over all focus on technique is concentrated on.
- 5 x 30 meter
- 5 x 60 meter
- 5 x 80 meter
Walking rests of 1 minute between sprints and 3-4 minutes between sets.
To lengthen running stride try spring these distances downhill with a 1-2% decline. This stretches the hamstrings enough to create a longer running stride.
To create changes of pace at top speeds practice these sprints while alternating 80%-100% of running speed over every 10 meters.
To conclude, these sprints drills should be covered over a number of sprint training sessions. Concentrate on one aspect per session and give it 110% effort. Remember to rest properly after each session and always warm up, cool down and stretch.
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