What is speed? It is the ability to reach a high velocity of movement in whatever mode of locomotion – running, cycling, skating, swimming etc .

Very often, agility is more relevant to successful rugby performance than all-out speed. Agility is the ability to explosively brake, change direction and accelerate again.

Another element of fitness closely related to speed training is speed endurance. Rugby players must maintain a high velocity for longer than 6 seconds or they must produce repeated sprints with minimal rest periods in between.

It is this combination of speed, agility and speed endurance that a rugby player requires and there are several modes of training that are integral to developing a ‘fast’ player:

Strength & Power Training and how it effects speed

Speed is chiefly determined by the capacity to apply a large amount of force in a short period of time. This is also known as power. Many athletic movements take place in 0.1 to 0.2 seconds but maximal force production takes 0.6 to 0.8 seconds. The player who can apply most force in the short period of available time is said to be the most powerful.

Strength training increases maximal force production.

Assuming as a result more force can be produced in the same period of time, then strength training alone can increase power.

However, it makes more sense to increase both maximal force production and the rate of force development. This can be achieved through power training

Both strength and power training are integral to improvement of speed.

Speed Training

Practising moving and accelerating faster helps to condition the neuromuscular system to improve the firing patterns of fast twitch muscle fibers. Two variations of basic speed training are assisted and resisted speed training.

Example: SAQ training activities, plyometric activities

Assisted training (also called over speed training helps to improve stride frequency

Example: Use of power speed rubber bands

Resisted speed training helps to improve speed-strength and stride length

Example: Use of parachutes, towing tyres, rubber bands,

Agility Training

Rugby is one sport that does not consist of movements that occur only in a straight line. Nor do those movements occur at a fixed pace or for a fixed length of time. Agility and quickness training improves an athlete’s ability to change direction, brake suddenly and perform rugby-specific skills with speed and dexterity.

Compare speed training to strength training for a moment.

A rugby-specific strength training program will first aim to develop basic strength. This is on the premise that a solid base of strength offers greater physical potential to work with when converting it to sport-specific strength later on. Basic speed training along with power training maximises the athlete’s ability to move rapidly. Agility training helps an athlete to apply their speed to sport-specific scenarios.

Final Comments

It is the combination of each of the elements of:

•Maximal Strength training

•Power Training

•Speed and Speed endurance Training

•Agility Training

In combination with the standard rugby skills training programs that allow the rugby player to better achieve his maximum performance in the game of rugby, whatever the level he chooses to play at.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.