Updated: Apr 14, 2022
When designing any speed training program, the greatest gains will come from:
1. High quality training
2. High intensity effort
3. Long recovery periods
4. Transferable skills onto the field
These 4 points are the backbone of my rugby speed programs.
They aren’t in order of importance.
They’re all equally important.
Miss one point and the entire program will crumble.
Let’s talk about each point.
1. High Quality Training
People seem to forget that Speed is a skill and like any skill in life we need to practise, practise and practise some more to get better.
Speed is no different and that is why every speed program should be of high quality.
The unfortunate thing about speed is that you need to be 100% accurate.
If you miss one little thing when speed training, you won’t be the fastest you can be.
Also, to be fast on the field it needs to come automatically.
As soon as you need to think about what to do, that split second will allow the defender time to tackle you or for the attacker to get away.
The way to ingrain the pattern of speed into your muscles is through repetition.
It takes around 4-6 weeks for the pattern to start to ingrain in your muscles.
I always tell my players that are starting off with speed to go into the backyard and repeat the technique of speed 10 times 3 times a week. They find that during the first couple of weeks they are really focusing on what to do but as the weeks progress there is less thinking and more muscle memory kicking in.
2. High Intensity Efforts
When it comes to High Intensity efforts, it’s all about short sharp bursts of speed.
Rugby is a game made up of short bursts of speed. Each sprint needs to be performed at max effort to call on our fast twitch muscles which is what makes us fast.
Fast twitch muscles love high intensity as they only have a short attention span.
But if we don’t always sprint at max effort.
It’s like the old saying “use it or lose it”
It makes it harder to call on your fast twitch muscles in times of need.
If you are consistently sprinting at max effort whether it’s in your backyard, on the footy field or on the school oval
You will be sprinting at max effort on the footy field.
1. Long Rest Periods
How can you perform at max effort when you are tired?
It’s important that after every sprint, you walk back slowly to the start so that you are back to your normal breathing rate.
There is no rule as to how long it takes to get back to your normal breathing rate. Everyone is different.
2. Transferable skills onto the field.
This is definitely the most common factor that is missed in a speed program.
Too often, Coaches or Players would include 100m sprints into their speed programs.
Firstly, how often during a game would a player sprint 100m? I could probably count on one hand for the entire season, let alone one game.
I’m a big believer of your training transferring onto the field. What I mean by this is that you need to include what happens in a game in your training so performing 100m sprints is not only a waste of time but a waste of energy.
Instead, your sprints should be no greater then 30m with the majority of your sprints being around the 10m mark as this is the average distance a player has in a game to reach their max speed.
If you want to develop explosive speed and get the best bang for your buck out of each training session, you need to incorporate my 4 factors into your speed programs.
Each training session should be of high-quality focusing on 100% accuracy whether that be when you are working on your technique or performing a drill.
Ensure that each sprint from today onwards is at max effort. If you train at max effort, then your sprints will be at max effort on the field.
You need to have long rest periods between each sprint if you are to perform at max effort. Wait until you are back to your normal breathing rate before performing your next sprint.
Last but not least, make sure that everything you do at training will transfer onto the field. There is nothing worth then training your butt off to not see the rewards on the field.
Good luck with your speed training.