The Rugby Coaching Manual
There are also various ways in which you can condition your players in the pre-season phase without using a ball and these techniques can easily be carried on through the season. We can learn a great deal from boxing, wrestling and judo and some of their skills and techniques can translate effortlessly to contact in rugby.
The first ‘steal’ would have to be skipping, much used over many years in boxing. It develops fast feet, co-ordination and cardiovascular fitness and costs virtually nothing. You can soon get your players to use this as a very effective warm-up technique and once they start to compete with each other, anything is possible.
There is a lot to be said for punching a hand-held tackle shield. The aim should be to develop very short periods of short, sharp punches and players very quickly start to improve their feet position and body shape for effective contact. This exercise can be timed so that you work the players in these short, sharp bursts of activity but the hands must be protected. You can buy lightweight practice gloves and they are well worth the expense, because bare-knuckle hitting against the tackle shield will certainly result in torn skin on the knuckles. If that is too expensive, try old towelling – but you must use some form of hand protection.
Judo has many elements that are useful to any player in the manipulation of his own and the opponent’s body weight and balance. There is almost certainly a judo club near you and you might be able to find a friendly and willing instructor to take a few pre-season sessions on grappling, throwing and falling techniques. However, safety could be an issue so make sure that you get somebody who is used to controlling learners in groups – especially competitive rugby players.
The martial art that looks the easiest to introduce is wrestling. The rugby-related faults that you, the coach, might identify in wrestling will probably be related to balance during contact: feet too close together; feet too wide apart; over-extension of the body; centre of gravity too high; extending the centre of gravity beyond the balance base; crossing the legs; failure to modify the feet and body position; and losing concentration.
These exercises need the minimum of equipment but you do need to watch closely to ensure that your players stick to the rules of engagement that you give them. You can do without a skill practice that degenerates into a fight, so keep your eyes and ears open. If you have any injured players and/or other coaches, spread them out to ‘referee’ what is bound to become quite competitive and sometimes heated.
PARTNER DRILLS – WRESTLING TECHNIQUES.
E. SUMO WRESTLING
F. SUMO WRESTLING WITH BALL
PARTNER DRILLS (ON GROUND)
G. ROLL OVER
H. HOLD DOWN
All of this wrestling work is extremely physically demanding so you need to be very careful regarding the length of each repetition. You can achieve total fatigue, especially in the players’ arms, in a very short period – so beware. You may leave them in such a state that they cannot carry out the next part of the session. Try to keep a record of how long they worked in previous sessions so that you achieve a balance and you can gradually build up the amount of time spent on each activity.
The Rugby Coaching Manual is now available for easy order from Amazon. This book will greatly help any rugby coach whether they are an old pro or overseeing their first training sessions. For more tips or information on the book, please visit The Rugby Coaching Manual official site. And check out a preview of the other chapters from the book on Rugby Rugby.
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