Pre-season | 4-week training plan


Every team wants to start the season well. Use these sessions to build your players’ form and fitness so that they are ready to go on that first whistle.

It’s a fact of coaching life that every year, when you return to the club for the first session of pre-season training, you’ll find that your players are a little tentative after a summer of inactivity. They know they want to get stuck in, but they are usually a bit unsure about how their bodies will cope with the renewed physical demands.

As coach, it’s up to you to put their minds at ease. You need to set out a pre-season programme that will be sympathetic to the players’ differing fitness levels, and at the same time make sure they are all ready to go come matchday one. But planning pre-season isn’t an easy thing to do, there are many variables to consider in a relatively brief amount of time, which is why I’ve put together this series of sessions to help you formulate an effective pre-season plan for your team.

There are four sessions in the plan, which I recommend you run over four weeks. They begin with a relatively gentle re-introduction to rugby and build to a point where the players are ready to get out onto the pitch.

Together, the sessions offer dynamic ways to keep the momentum going from the second the players enter the training arena. This allows you to concentrate on managing players’ motivation levels, while knowing that you are covering off the core areas of the game: technical, tactical and physical. If your players are willing to put in the hard yards, this plan will help you start the new season as you mean to go on!

Pre-season | Week 1: Back on track

Pre-season | Week 2: Getting serious

Pre-season | Week 3: Tactics time

Pre-season | Week 4: Battle hardness

Some pre-season don’ts…

Although you’ll be raring to go at the start of this fitness training, it’s important that you don’t get carried away and try too much too soon. Here are a few coaching don’ts to remember:

  • Don’t spend too much time on moves and plays – they won’t work if the players are not physically and technically ready
  • Don’t overtrain the players – even if they are unfit, they also need rest and recovery as part of the conditioning process
  • Don’t be afraid to be honest– if a player is not fit enough, tell him. But then help him understand what he can do to get fitter
  • Don’t panic about the next game – all your opponents will be in pretty much the same boat and your players will be individually better prepared than them.

And my top motivational tip to a player who is looking for some respite: “Every extra yard you put in now is one more the opposition cannot take away”.

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