More About Resisted Sprinting
Speed strength is basically a term of explosive power or acceleration. Resisted sprinting is the most effective means of developing speed strength for rugby. Adding a load or dynamic resistance to your sprinting overloads your drive muscles and forces the nervous system to recruit greater “work”.
Fast twitch abilities are targeted and effectively conditioned to contract with greater speed and strength. This in turn improves your ground force production and corresponding explosive acceleration abilities as the strength or power of the drive (hip extension) determines stride length.
This power is used for linear bursts but is also controls your ability to power out and change direction at high speed. Resisted sprinting is also excellent for developing a stable core midsection and promoting a forward lean and low centre of gravity. This gives you much greater balance and stability that will improve your ability in stopping, rapid direction change and contact situations.
- Simply skip forward with the emphasis is placed on a strong drive, high knee, and short ground contact.
- 5 Skipping workouts of 5-6 sets are recommended before progressing onto sprinting workouts.
Resisted Sprint - Let Goes
- The sprint progresses the activity to maximal intensity.
- Maintaining short choppy strides is important to ensure the foot does not land in front of the centre of gravity, which lessens the drive.
- Good body lean.
- Powerful drive.
- Aggressive arms.
- High knee drive.
- A “let go” is when a loaded sprint is immediately followed by a free un-resisted sprint.
- You are literally let go by your training partner. This is known as contrast training and the runners experience a sensation of being shot from a cannon when released from the load.
- Greater training gains are experienced when combining loaded and unloaded movements.
- The partner holding you back calls “go” at a release point and you sprint through unloaded to the finish point.
- These drills allow longer distances to be covered and the addition of sports specific activities at top speed. For example a change of direction or a trapping a ball can be incorporated at maximal speed.
- 5-10m resisted sprinting followed by a release and 10-30m free sprint are recommended.
High speed Direction Change – Side Steps and Swerves
- Lateral speed strength is one of the most crucial and unfortunately most neglected aspects of a well-rounded quickness development programme.
- Too often linear speed is the focus and the athletic ability to apply lateral ground forces is not strengthened leading to a lesser ability to quickly move laterally, stop, and change direction at high speeds.
- For example when performing a sidestep a tremendous amount of lateral strength is required to apply enough forces to drive the body at a different angle.
- Lateral weakness lengthens the ground contact time, collapses the hip which increases braking forces. This reduces drive ability when changing direction and leads to a slowing of speed.
- Powerful players can change direction without a noticeable slowing of pace, this makes them a much harder target. Players with untrained and poor lateral strength tend to slow down before changing direction as they do not have the stability and power to change direction and maintain explosive ground forces.
- It is important that the feet do not cross over and good arm action is maintained.
- Focus on driving powerfully with the inside leg.
- Shoulders must stay square, as do the hips, as rotation will negate the benefits of the drill.
- Distances of 5-20m are recommended with a maximum of 3-4 repetitions on each side.
- Focus on your weaker side if you sidestep better off one foot than the other.
- It is strongly recommended that direction change at high speeds either as a sharp side step or swerve should quickly be incorporated into speed strength sessions.
- Direction change at rapid speeds must be practiced like any other skill if it is to be improved upon – and it can be dramatically improved with consistent effort.
- The angle of the sidesteps, swerves and distances between cones should be regularly adjusted for maximal transfer onto the playing field.
- Ensure to target any weak side with your stepping patterns and don’t become known as a player who can only sidestep well off one foot. This will make you an easy defensive target for the opposition.
- If you are much better at stepping or swerving to the left spend more time with your training stepping to the right so that you can choose which way to go to suit the game space as opposed to your ability to sidestep in only one direction with speed.
- Sidestepping and swerving are both important skills to train. Sidestepping is a sharp change of direction with a fast powerful step whereas a swerve is a more gradual change of direction maintaining a greater speed.