Rugby drills to develop leg muscles

Improving the power of your players’ leg drive will boost their effectiveness in many different areas of the game:

  • Speed
  • Agility
  • Evading contact
  • Taking contact
  • Offloading the ball
  • Tackling
  • Rucking

Leg drive relies on two physical components, leg power and foot speed, both of which can be improved using fairly simple training drills which can be included in your warm-ups.

Leg power drill

Introduce drills such as vertical jumps, jump squats, burpees and lunges into your warm-ups. You can also use more dynamic drills such as hopping, two footed jumping and skipping.

You can implement resisted running training drills where players work in pairs, with one working while the other supplies the resistance by holding the shorts at the waist. Players drive hard over three or four metres and are then let go to accelerate away. For safety make sure the player holding on counts down “3, 2, 1, GO” before letting go.

Players can drive ruck pads explosively over two or three metres. Make sure they take short fast steps, and that they keep their back straight and head up to maximise the leg drive and the benefit for your players' rugby skills.

Foot Speed drill

This is best developed using agility ladders (or cones at 18 inch intervals), with players running through, putting one foot and then two feet in each space. This drill develops the footwork patterns that players need for effective leg drive.

Another tip is to use the “agility cross” where five different coloured cones are set out in the shape of a cross. Players start in the middle and respond to the coach calling the colour of a cone by running to it as quickly as possible. They need to face the front all the time so they move forwards, backwards and sideways, always returning to the middle.

Make sure players stay on the balls of their feet and move with short fast steps between the cones to maximise rugby skills.


  • Leg drive is a mix of power and speed.
  • Use specific leg drive drills in warm-ups.
  • Emphasise the importance of leg drive on all aspects of rugby, so players can identify for themselves when improving leg drive makes a difference.
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