Training Tips

Safety Starts Before The Game

THE WARM UP
Warming up is important because it prepares the body for physical activity. It gradually increases blood flow to the heart, avoiding the rapid - and potentially harmful - rise in blood pressure that would occur if you ran onto the field ‘cold’.

Warming up also increases the temperature of your muscles and makes them more pliable. This will boost your performance once the game starts, and also help you avoid straining or pulling a muscle.

A good warm-up should last for around 15 minutes and consist of the following three activities:

Aerobic exercise
Start by doing some aerobic exercise, such as slow jogging, gradually building up intensity, to raise the body temperature. You should get to the point where your body is sweating slightly.

Sport-specific exercises
Next, spend some time practising the movements and activities you will perform during the game, eg short sprints, agility drills, passing and catching drills, tackling and scrummaging etc.

Dynamic stretching
Finish off with some dynamic (ie, moving, not still) stretches. You should do these at gradually increasing speed, and they should mimic your on-field movements, eg leg swings, calf raises, lunges, squats etc.
Dynamic stretching helps prepare your joints by moving them through their entire range of motion. It also decreases muscle stiffness – which all helps reduce your risk of injury.

Dynamic stretching has a mental benefit, too, because it enhances your concentration and coordination.


THE COOL-DOWN
Cooling down is easy to overlook, but it’s an important way of helping your body recover from a tough game.

In particular, cooling down helps your body remove lactic acid, the waste that’s produced by your muscles during exercise. This means you’ll feel less stiff in the hours and days following the game.

A cool-down is especially important in a tournament situation (where you may be playing consecutive games on the same day, eg Sevens Rugby) or if you’ve simply got training or another game in the next day or so.

Spend at least 10 minutes cooling down, and focus on the following activities:

Aerobic exercise
As with your warm-up, do some slow jogging, cycling or brisk walking to help you gradually reduce your body temperature, and start clearing lactic acid from your system.

Static stretching:
Static stretching involves holding a muscle in a lengthened position for at least 15-30 seconds. Try not to move or ‘bob’ the muscle during the stretch.

Static stretches can help your muscles relax after a hard game, and long-term they can improve your performance by making you more flexible. The more flexible you are, the greater the range-of-motion you have to work within, which is why stretching is an important part of any training programme.

 

 

SAFETY TIP

"The best predictor of injury is recent injury. And the message from this is you don’t play injured. You make sure you get an injury treated properly, fully recovered and then get back on the rugby field."
Dr Graham Paterson – Former All Blacks doctor

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