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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