Is your arm action slowing you down?

Updated: Dec 30, 2019


One of the most forgotten body parts when it comes to getting faster are the arms. Yes, the legs contribute a lot to rugby speed, but it’s your arms that control a lot of what your legs do.


If your arms are tight, your legs will also be tight. If your arms move slowly then your legs will to. Ignoring your arms is a recipe for disaster and will take you down the path of becoming a slower rugby player.


Don’t believe me? Try pumping your arms fast whilst at the same time pumping your legs slowly. You just won’t be able to do it – because your legs move at the same speed as your arms.


Let’s make today the day that you give your arms the attention they deserve. Your arms will dictate whether you’re going to be a fast or slow rugby player.


A common mistake I see rugby players doing when they are trying to gain speed is focusing on pumping legs fast. Without sounding like a broken record, your legs follow your arms.


YOUR LEGS FOLLOW YOUR ARMS. Listen up Rugby Players.


Switch your focus from your legs to your arms. Pump your arms faster and you will instantly increase your stride frequency (speed of your leg action). Since your arms and legs move in harmony, your legs will instantly speed up.


How do I fix my arm action?


We spend most of our time during a rugby game in the acceleration phase, so let’s concentrate on that to start with.


Let’s imagine that you’ve just received the ball in a standstill position and you’re about to hit the gap in defence. If you were to perform the perfect acceleration phase, you would need to be able to generate maximum amount of force into the ground to give yourself the best change to hit that hole.


How would you do this? Would your legs be moving fast or slow?


If you answered slow then you would be spot on. The longer my foot makes contact with the ground, the more force I can generate (obviously too long is not good). So what would my arms need to be doing to allow my leg action to be slow? My arms need to be moving big and slow as well.


To coach big slow arms during the acceleration phase, I tell my players to pretend they are reaching out to grab a banana then aggressively pull it off the tree. This automatically makes the player perform big long arm actions during the acceleration phase.


You can even perform the below drill before a sprint. This will ingrain ‘big arms’ into your muscle memory.


Believe me, it’s hard to get this acceleration pattern right if all your focus is on your legs. When you focus on your arms, they put your legs and feet in the correct position and at the right speed to enable them to do what they need to do.


Maybe your arms have been slowing you down this whole time. Arms are a key component to speed and control your legs. Remember the faster your arm action the faster your leg action and vice versa.


Good luck with your speed training and as usual feel free to contact me anytime.

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