When talking about speed it is common for people to think (and say)
“You’ve either got it or you haven’t”
Let me just say right now, that simply is WRONG.
Everyone has the ability to get faster, and it’s very simple.
The benefits from being faster makes rugby become that much easier of a game! Do not think that getting faster is only a benefit to those wingers or those that play 7s. Every position of every player can hugely benefit from getting their wheels upgraded!
Two good examples of this come from the current England squad.
Firstly you have Courtney Lawes, who (along with the other locks) has revolutionised the way that England play, the explosive nature of this newly-upgraded engine room allows England to play a fast, expansive game without sacrificing anything in the line-out. They also are a force in defence, with huge huts and turnovers to boot – gone are the days of big, slow 2nd rows who just hit a ruck or two.
Then you have Mike Brown, formerly a safe, “Steady Eddy” type player, who would just sure up the squad. He has radically transformed himself into one of the world’s top players, earning himself a number of awards (and a boat-load of tries) in the 2013-14 season. He attributes much of his form to his increased speed and his Olympic Speed Coach – Margot Wells.
Whilst we can’t all fork out hundreds (often thousands) of pounds for an olympic coach, every rugby player can reap the benefits from being faster, so today I’m going to talk about the 2 incredibly simple ways that you can do this.
Whether you’re reading this thinking “I’m already fast, I don’t need to do much improvement” or “I’m destined to be slow”, you’re wrong.
Getting fast is simple as putting one leg in front of the other, which leads me to the first simple way to get faster:
It amazes me how little rugby players practice their sprinting.
Now, don’t get me wrong here – I see a lot of guys doing sprints, but they aren’t practicing their sprinting.
Guys mostly will sprint to get a burn on their lungs, get “fitter”.
Not only is this not making them faster, but sometimes it can make them slower!
Bad habits – when you are fatigued your sprinting form will drop, (when your form drops, you get slower) and if you are constantly sprinting with crap form then you’ll get used to it, and that will be your form when you’re fresh. Not good.
A common one I see that ruins running technique is running 150m intervals… when the fuck does anyone sprint for 150m in a game?! These are no use to a player who needs to get faster, rugby is all about speed over 40m or less.
What you guys need to do is practice sprinting, this means that the emphasis is on the sprinting itself, so for each sprint you do, you must be fresh. In fact, when finishing a good sprinting session, you will feel fresher and more energised than when you started.
A good sprinting session will last no more than 40 minutes and should last around 45 minutes at most. Here is an example of a good sprinting session:
10 x 15m sprints (walk back slowly and recover as needed)
8 x 25m sprints (walk back slowly and recover as needed)
6 x 40m sprints (walk back and recover as needed)
Now whilst I don’t want to get too much into sprinting technique – we want to keep things simple – I will say that you need to stay on your toes, only letting your heels touch the ground when you make a side-step.
It’s so simple and gives you so many benefits, you’d be silly not to do it.
You’d also be silly not to take note of the 2nd simple way to get faster
When you’re sprinting, you’re pushing yourself off the ground and propelling yourself up and forward.
The more force you can apply to the ground, the more powerful you will foot will launch away from it, and thus the faster you will run.
For some reason people say that strength training makes you slower, well these people are idiots. Getting stronger allows you to apply more force to the ground, which makes you faster. Simple really
Now we could look at jumps, and different forms of triple extension here but again, this is getting faster made “SIMPLE”, so we’re going to take one exercise and make sure you’re doing it: deadlifts.
(I imagine Alex is going to love me for saying that)
I’ve chose deadlifts because they really use the sprinting muscles better than any other movement.
When you’re deadlifting, you’re not really picking the weight up as much as you are applying as much force to the ground as needed in order to straighten your legs and bring that weight with you…. does that “force to the ground” bit sound familiar??
Also in the deadlift, you use your quads, hips, hamstrings and glutes at maximum force….just like sprinting.
All that you need to remember is that when you are deadlifting, you start with a neutral spine and use the legs rather than the lower back. Keep in mind that the goal isnt to become a powerlifter, it is to get better at rugby, so don’t feel the need to go beyond what you can handle with good technique.
You can fanny around running up or downhill, or with bands, or do fancy footwork drills.
Or you can do these two simple things and get faster than ever before.
In double-quick time.