Tips for fitness planning

A determination to “get fitter” is a feature of many rugby players’ pre-season and New Year resolutions. Here are my rugby coaching tips on how you can help them achieve this, with some advice about how you can encourage players to come to training week-in, week-out.

Measure and benchmark

You need to measure your players’ fitness now and in the future to see whether they are improving. This can be done weekly for two reasons. First you can regularly monitor players who miss some sessions. Second you can measure fitness little and often, so it does not become a burden to your sessions.

For example, you could try the following simple tests, which should take less than 10 minutes to action:

  • The distance a player can run in 30 seconds (up and down the pitch).
  • The number of sit ups and press ups performed in a minute.


Fitness and core skills rugby drills

Combined fitness and skills training within the same session saves time. Importantly it increases the pressure on skills by working players when they are tired. An increase in intensity will soon have players concentrating in different ways, whilst working their aerobic and anaerobic fitness.

Keep it simple

A published fitness plan is fine, but try to avoid giving out great swathes of paper. Instead keep the weekly focus on fitness by giving out some fitness pointers at the end of each session. For instance you may say something like:

“By the next session I expect you have completed five 400 metre runs and three 800 metre runs. The fitter and faster guys should aim to go under 70 seconds for the 400s, the others under 90 seconds…”

Players who want it written down can be given a fuller programme. However, a regular reminder will keep the players in tune with what they need to be doing every week.


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