Advocating a Long-Term Approach to Rugby Training Programs

It seems that all too often athletes make the mistake of seeking the quickest path to getting bigger, faster and stronger without considering the long-term consequences of such a strategy. A long-term approach that preaches patience in developing a well-rounded athlete is the most ideal method regardless of the sport, but this is especially the case as it pertains to a complex and rigorous sport like rugby.

A fitness plan for rugby players at every level should include a focus on developing strength, speed, flexibility and endurance, with specificity based on the athlete’s role only coming after these basic athletic components have been fully developed. This is just as true with the most elite, world-class rugby players as it is with newcomers to the sport. Fitness gains can indeed be made quickly through a number of training methods, but these are rarely long-lasting gains and they may lead to an increased risk of injury.

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Through the use of a long-term approach to fitness, trainers can identify areas of weakness and develop a program that brings the athlete into balance. With strength, speed, flexibility and endurance properly balanced and fully developed, training programs can then become highly specialized to maximize fitness gains as they relate to the athlete’s specific role with their rugby club. If training specificity is attempted too early, the athlete may become one-dimensional and will find it difficult to compete in a sport that requires dynamic athleticism to be truly successful.

For young players in particular, there may be a temptation to try to progress too quickly through a training program. Young rugby players are often best served by a training program that begins with body-weight exercises before progressing to movements involving an added external load. This encourages these young athletes to focus on developing proper form for each movement and ensures that the risk of injury is minimized significantly. It is in this way that training gains are ultimately maximized when it is appropriate to add an external load.

As rugby players progress to the highest level of sport, the use of proper training, nutrition and recovery becomes an even more important factor in determining athletic success. Even athletes competing at an elite level have room for improvement, particularly as it relates to nutrition and recovery. Athletes who develop an early understanding of the benefits of a balanced approach to all aspects of training are far more likely to reach their athletic potential and achieve success in the sport of rugby.

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John Ross Jesensky Sees Striking Similarities Between Music and Rugby

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In music, as in rugby, there is a tremendous need for collaboration as well as an acute sense of timing amongst players, says John Ross Jesensky, a musician and composer familiar with the intricacies associated with both live musical performances as well as film scoring. After observing a recent rugby match, Jesensky was struck by the manner in which players communicated and responded to one another while engaged in such a physically demanding and fast-paced endeavor.

Though the frequency and force of the physicality that occurs on the rugby pitch is markedly different from the musical environment to which Jesensky is accustomed, the collaboration among rugby players was remarkably similar and could easily serve as a fine example for musicians still learning about the importance of teamwork, frequent practice and the need to put the group above the individual. It could likewise serve as a unique way to demonstrate how live musical improvisation, similar to rugby, often requires the ability to follow someone else’s lead one moment as well as the ability to take the lead the next.

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John Pryor Strength and Conditioning Principles: Proprioceptive Cues for Rugby

John Pryor rugby cuesThere are many reasons the John Pryor strength and conditioning principles for rugby training have generated such an impressive degree of success for the Japanese national team, with many pointing to the deciding scrum occurring during injury time against the heavily favored South African squad in World Cup play as evidence of the incredible impact of what could accurately be described as the John Pryor rugby training approach. While Pryor would be very likely to point out the many factors that go into any athletic team’s success, he has outlined some of the key principles used in the team’s training program that very likely played a significant role in the Japan Rugby Football Union’s surprising ascent.

Given the inherent complexity of the sport of rugby, Pryor utilized two very simple and straightforward proprioceptive cues to guide the athletes in their overall approach to training. These cues are based on what Pryor identified as the necessary preconditions for specific actions during rugby play, with the two cues being “chest up,” and “foot from above.” Each of these cues was applied to the team’s training program through the development of drills that could be varied to generate the specifically desired training outcome.

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New Techniques for Enhancing Lateral Speed in Rugby Athletes

The sport of rugby has evolved quite a bit over the years, and most of this evolution is the direct result of the action and subsequent reaction associated with each new and innovative development in some area of the sport. After all, for each strategic development, a counterstrategy must be developed if the sport is to continually move forward.

In recent years, defensive strategy has only become increasingly effective, and while new offensive strategies have played an important role, the most effective counterstrategy lies in the development of strength training techniques designed to enhance lateral speed in the offensive rugby player. In John Pryor’s training programs, the emphasis tends to remain on developing relative leg power, leg adductor range of motion and an increased focus on the frontal plane of the pelvis as it relates to integrity and coordination.

The principle of lateral speed has not necessarily been overlooked by coaches and athletes, but there is room for improvement in the training techniques used to maximize lateral speed development in rugby athletes. One effective method for achieving this goal is through the successful adaptation of certain track and field training principles, particularly those relating to the vertical and horizontal jumping events.

Adopting a greater focus on plyometric exercises that include jumping, hopping and bounding can greatly enhance the offensive player’s ability to evade the defensive tactics employed by rugby opponents, especially when the goal of the training is to enhance the reactive strength of the athlete. This is particularly the case with lateral movement, as greater reactive strength in lateral movements is extraordinarily beneficial in all aspects of rugby competition.

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Strength’s Importance in Rugby

rugby_strengthFor one of John Pryor‘s rugby players, having an abundance of strength and power is beyond helpful. It’s essential. As you might have noticed, rugby is a very fast-paced, rough, and rugged game. Therefore, building adequate strength via sustained strength and endurance training are imperative parts of every rugby player’s workout regimen. The majority of rugby skills are time-constrained, happening at high speeds with high physical stakes at hand. With that said, strength and hypertrophy are only the building blocks of a sturdy rugby player. For full functionality, both power and speed are needed in order to shape a rugby player, and that can’t come without extensive strength training.

Every Player is Different, But Strength Reigns Supreme

Your position, your own personal style of playing, as well as your team’s style, may dictate the amount of training needed in each area. Speaking from experience though, there’s no short of strong, well-trained players in even the lower levels of the professional game. Besides maybe a further understanding of the game and the development of specific sets of skills; the key aspects separating the top-level pros and international players from the rest is pure strength and power in its rawest form.

Building Agility on a Muscular Frame

With all of that being said, I think that it is very agreeable that speed and power are very specific abilities, whereas strength and hypertrophy are more general in nature. Heavy strength training should be focused on more heavily in the earlier stages of the athletes career, building bulk muscle and preparing for the season, with the more specific muscle training and skill training coming later on. After you’ve built sufficient muscle memory, adding agility to the mix will be much easier and less risky.

Preventing Overtraining and Preparing for the Season

Rugby athletes shouldn’t concern themselves too deeply with their strength and size as long as they have a solid training foundation. You should start with a good 4-8 week training block in the earlier parts of the pre-season, during which you’d be almost exclusively weightlifting to add mass. After that, reduce the weight used in your workout to a minimal and focus on high reps and aerobic activities, focusing on slowly increase speed while maintaining maximum power in all movements. Many rugby players continue to build mass through strength training for many years after they’ve entered a professional or amateur league.

Core Strength and Durability Counteract High Injury Risk

In the game of Rugby, as many as 1 out of every 4 players will be injured during a season; which is three times the injury rate that soccer has. Around 40% of rugby injuries will be muscular strains or contusions (bruising of the muscle). About 30% of the injuries will be sprains, then followed by fractures, dislocations, lacerations, and also over-use injuries. With those statistics said, it is obvious why it is important, in the game of Rugby, to have overwhelmingly adequate strength that comes from training towards fine-tuned power, speed, and precision.

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John Pryor—What it Takes To Be a Winner

Everyone wants to be a champion until the time comes to do what champions do. Many people believe you train to be a winner, but that’s not exactly true. You are a winner simply by deciding to be a winner, but you train to be a champion. In rugby, both winners and champions are needed in order to succeed and you can’t be a champion until you decide to be a winner.

What does it take to be a winner? The answer you’ll get from this question depends on who you ask, but if you’re asking John Pryor, the answer is attitude. We all take our hits and our falls, even the greatest champions. The difference is that a winner keeps going and doesn’t backslide and a winner doesn’t quit. When you fall, and you will so it’s not a matter of if you fall, don’t stay down. Get up again and again because you know your worth.

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John Pryor’s Strength

When we think about some of the greatest athletes, whether in the past or the present, what do think about? Depending on if you are a sports fanatic or not, your opinions of these people can range from being super heroes to being merely impressive athletes. If we take a deeper look into the lives of our favorite athletes and even the coaches that direct them, we will see that their success didn’t come though over night, much like John Pryor.

Little is known about John Pryor and what motivates him to do his best while on the rugby field until this afternoon when he spoke about his passion that fuels his strength. “I know the feeling of watching someone you look up to fail. It’s disheartening, when it should be enlightening,” said Pryor. “Every game I play, I imagine my own child is there, watching me, cheering me on. I can’t fail in front of his eyes. If he’s anything like me, I know that would crush his spirit.”

John Pryor holds his family to the highest degree and admits they are his passion, his purpose, his reason for giving 102% everyday. “You can’t fail the ones who are expecting the most out of you. Imagine being a little boy in love with super heroes and your dad is your biggest hero. Seeing him fail would be like watching Superman die,” Pryor commented.

Mr. Pryor isn’t the only one with such a high regard for his family and sees them as the source of his power. In a recent survey hosted in 2014, 76% of men said they have give their best effort because they have a family while 21% of men said they give their best effort to keep their title or reputation and the remaining 3% say they do not care. If you are a man, it seems to show that through these figures, having a family to depend on you and look up to you forces you to strive for excellence and that is exactly what John Pryor does 24/7 365 days a week.

Passion comes in many many different forms. To some, passion may be in the form of what they do for a living and for others it could be what they are doing for other people. In John Pryor’s case, his passion and strength comes from providing for his family and being an example for his child which is what so few children have in this day and age.

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