When rugby players use strength training programs to help improve their game they should approach it with very specific goals in mind. At the same time it should be kept as simple as possible, especially if the player is inexperienced.
Before a program is written the player needs to be assessed. If a good coach or trainer is available this will make the whole process much easier. If not, the player can do something of a self-assessment that can be used to design an appropriate program.
The assessment process starts with questions. These questions identify what the player wants to achieve from the training. The person designing the program needs to consider both the player and the coach when assessing. The players own goals for the game are obviously the primary concern but the coach may have certain qualities they want the player to develop. Because they choose the team it makes sense to include them. The player may wish to make a representative team so it would be wise to get input from the coach or selector of that team if possible as well.
By looking at what the player wants to gain, and looking at what he needs to work on to please the coaches, the designer already has a basic framework to start from. The next step is to look at how the player functions or moves, then how that compares with how they will need to function and move in order perform at their target level. Strengths or weaknesses uncovered in this step will further refine the program towards the players specific needs which will in turn advance them towards their goal. The possible tests for this step are endless, but should also follow a process of refinement.
For example a player may desire more speed over 40 meters. The trainer needs to know how fast the player can run over 40 meters, then examine how he runs, then identify what can be done to improve it. Just because its a training program it does not mean that it should all be about lifting weights or strength training. Its about achieving a goal. It could be that the player is held back over the 40 meters by tight hamstrings plus weak quadriceps. Strength work would obviously apply to training the quads, but mobility rather then weightlifting would be needed for the hamstrings to improve.This approach targets the players specific needs, getting him to his goal efficiently and effectively.
A training program finds, then addresses needs in such a way that it uses every available tool in the most appropriate way. By using those tools in a well directed, focused manner, time is saved, so goals are achieved faster. Generic training programs are a wasted opportunity for people to really work on what they need for improvement.
Good program design will deliver an accurate set of guidelines for the player to follow. This need not be a complicated process but it will require some effort in the early stages to do the assessments, plus get input from strength or athletic performance experts if its needed, however the pay off at the end makes all the attention to detail well worthwhile.
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