Rugby: Use Different Starting Speeds During Rugby Sprint Drills

Rugby: Use Different Starting Speeds During Rugby Sprint Drills

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

A study on sprint patterns in rugby union matches has shown that players do a lot of sprinting during games, with both backs and forwards reaching speeds in excess of 90% of max during games...although backs were twice as likely as forwards to achieve this top-end speed.

However, an interesting finding was the wide variation in the starting speed from which sprints were initiated. It was found that backs started from the following speeds:

  • Standing: 29% of the time
  • Walking: 29%
  • Jogging: 29%
  • Striding: 13%

Forwards differed in that they started from a standing position more frequently - 41% of the time. And, as previously mentioned, were only half as likely as backs to reach 90% of maximum speed in their sprints. Conclusion and Practice This information provides three ideas for improving your sprinting and acceleration drills during rugby practices:

  1. Perform sprint drills from a variety of starting speeds - everything from the traditional standing position, to walking, jogging and striding.
  2. Increase the proportion of standing sprint starts for your forwards, since they start their sprints from a standing position 40% more often than backs.
  3. And finally, since your players will frequently be forced to begin sprinting in directions that are not straight ahead, you can incorporate that into your practices. For example, have your players walk or jog in one direction, then accelerate full blast at a 90 degree angle.

Reference: G.M. Duthie et al, "Sprint Patterns inRugby Union Players During Competition." Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 20(1): 208-214, 2006.

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