I’VE NOT PLAYED RUGBY FOR A LONG TIME. HOWEVER, WHEN I DID, I TRAINED PRETTY OBSESSIVELY. IN FACT I’VE GOT TO SEND OUT A COUPLE OF BIG THANKS. ONE TO TOM FISHER FOR ACTUALLY TEACHING ME HOW TO PASS AND THE OTHER TO TEMI OKENLA, HENRY OLIPHANT, AARON COLE AND NICK FORBES FOR LETTING ME DRAG THEM OUT EVERY EVENING TO LET ME PRACTICE MY PASSING. EVEN WHEN IT WAS REALLY COLD:)
So, I wanted to create a workout that would help with the following:
Speed at getting into a position to pass at a breakdown
Passing whilst fatigued
Turning and Acceleration
The thought process behind the development of these exercises is based upon the widely accepted SAID (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) Principle. What I am looking to achieve is effective training transfer: gain in performance/gain in trained exercise.
Traditionally, conditioning for Rugby players has centred on traditional strength and power exercises. Squats, Deadlifts, Snatches, Box Jumps are all exercises I have been guided to in the past. However, Research shows that “specificity of training becomes more relevant according to levels of training experience and performance.”
Passing is a key skill for a Scrum Half. In order to continually enhance the performance of a skill, we can create exercises that remain close to the biomechanics of the skill. Whilst there is a paucity, if any studies that have analysed the improvements of passing following a conditioning program that have included scrum half passing specific mechanics, there has been an interesting study in Golf. The study, demonstrates how conditioning for a skill has transferred to improved performance of that skill.
After an 8 week golf specific training program for a group of 15 male recreational golfers in which, “resisted movements mimicked the golf swing” it was found that there were “improvements in swing kinematics” which may have resulted from “improved sequencing pattern of the pelvis, shoulders and arms”. Of further interest is the fact that the golfers were not permitted to play golf or practice at the golfing range. It seems to be the case that there is an important neurological component in optimizing the performance of a skill. By engaging in exercises that are biomechanically similar to that of the skill we are trying to improve, we minimize biomechanical disruptions and ensure that we can achieve transfer to our performance goals.
We must also demonstrate how traditional strength and power training may not transfer to performance.
Sprinting is an important skill in Rugby. Not surprisingly, It has been shown that “backs achieve similar sprint times to track sprinters over distances of 15 and 35m.”In order to maximize speed, many different muscles must be activated at the appropriate times and intensities. Limitations in traditional approaches to improving sprint speeds can be shown in a study by Baratta et al, they showed that “knee-flexion training [squatting/lunging] produced greater knee-flexion activation during a knee-extension strength test”. This supports the view by Sale that “Negative transfer could occur if there is increased coactivation of antagonist muscles because this would produce force that opposes the intended movement direction.” It seems that this would be the case if we included loaded squats and deadlifts in our sprint programs.
Consequently, I have sought to keep as close as possible to the skills I am attempting to improve upon. These are just a starting point- there are many more techniques, movements and scenarios I could have chosen to train and may do so further down the line.
The next step is to then ensure we are in an energy system achieve adaptations that will transfer to performance, it is obviously important to train a movement for longer than the required time and to get our Scrum Half as fit as possible for the unique demands rugby union.
Though dated, some research has found that mean duration of Work was 19 seconds with the Work : Rest ratios of 1 : 1–1.9 and 1–1.9 : 1 occurring most frequently. Sixty-three percent of the W : R ratios had work periods less than the rest period.” So, it would seem that in our conditioning, it would be best to use Work to rest ratios that are either on par or that use negative rest periods.
There are so many more movements, exercises and protocols that we can create to optimize scrum half performance in a number of other areas. Moreover, we can break down each of the movements into several exercises to focus on a particular aspect of performance- e.g sprint mechanics, passing mechanics. But for now, give this a go:)
For more details on why I chose certain movements and why I chose to load the movements in certain ways, leave a comment in the box below.
1 Warren B. Young “ Transfer of Strength and Power Training to Sports Performance “ International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance,
2 Siff MC, Verkhohansky YV. Supertraining. Denver, Col: Supertraining International;
3 Dowson MN, Nevill ME, Lakomy HKA, et al. Modelling the relationship between isokinetic muscle strength and sprint running performance. J Sports Sci 1998; 16: 257-65
4 Sale DG. Influence of exercise and training on motor unit activation. In: Pandolf KB, ed. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 1987;15:95-151.
5 Grant Duthie, David Pyne and Sue Hooper. Applied Physiology and Game Analysis of Rugby Union. Sports Med 2003; 33 (13): 973-9912006;1:74-83 © 2006 Human Kinetics, Inc