Updated: Feb 13
The best rugby players in the world spend thousands of dollars to optimise their performance including their speed. Hiring world-class nutritionists, top-of-their-game physiotherapists and making use of state-of-the-art equipment, like cold tubs and hyperbaric chambers is nothing in the quest to increase the longevity of their career, minimise their risk of injury and of course, maximise their speed performance.
The good news is that you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to improve your speed performance.
Here are 3 inexpensive and 'unusual' tips for you to start thinking about if you are serious about developing breakaway speed and minimising your risk of injury on the rugby field.
1. SLEEP ….ZZZZZ
Did you know that lack of sleep causes your muscles to shrink?
Good quality sleep will help your muscles grow! Given we know that strength is a massive component to speed, we want to make sure we are giving our muscles the optimum conditions to grow, so lack of sleep is a big no-no! Lack of sleep will also affect muscle recovery as sleep increases the blood flow available to your muscles, delivers extra amounts of oxygen and nutrients, all of which aid recovery.
Even an hour of missed sleep can contribute to your muscles not recovering, or growing properly so if you’re not getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep, you can throw the opportunity to increase your speed performance out the window.
Parents, tell your athletes that staying up late on their device will affect their rugby! That may be a good, legitimate reason for the rugby lovers out there to put the phone down and head to bed.
2. MOBILITY / STRETCHING
The best thing is that this tip is completely free and sadly if you’re not doing it, you can’t be serious about your speed performance.
Mobility and stretching not only reduce the risk of injury but it also combats muscle imbalances and increases power output by allowing your muscles to move through a full range of motion.
More range of motion equals an increase in speed performance.
Stretching also improves blood circulation, therefore, increasing the supply of nutrients throughout the body.
Ensure you religiously stretch before and after every single training session. Stretching alone will improve your speed performance. If you can add a stretch session before bed as well, even better!
Here are a few tips for stretching
- Never hold your breath when stretching - breathe steadily and deeply to allow your muscles to relax.
- Don’t bounce when stretching.
- When stretching as a warm-up, hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and when stretching as a cool down hold the stretch for at least 20-30 seconds
3. DRINK YOUR MILK AND EAT YOUR GREENS
It’s all about calcium Friends. Most people think of calcium as the bone-building nutrient, but what a lot don’t know is that calcium is important for achieving proper muscle contractions as well.
The faster your muscle contract,the faster your speed performance.
Be sure to regularly eat foods high in calcium, such as low-fat cottage cheese, Greek yogurt and skim milk to improve your speed performance. Dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and watercress, dried fruits, nuts, seeds, pulses (peas, beans, and lentils) are also excellent sources of calcium.
There you have it, 3 inexpensive or no expense tips to help you get serious about improving your speed. What can you implement today to get your speed on track?