SAQ for Rugby Union

June 2, 2017

The importance of Speed, Agility and Quickness (SAQ)

Any athlete at any level wants to gain that extra little advantage, and it can’t be denied that in the fast-paced world of sports, balance, quick feet, speedy reactions and agile movement patterns are essential elements to achieving success.

Speed refers to the body’s ability to rapidly move the arms and legs in a straight line – or linear speed as its also known.

Agility refers to our ability to quickly and effectively change direction.

Quickness refers to the body’s ability to quickly respond, a reflexive reaction such as when you make an instant response to a stimulus.

In terms of your rugby play these factors can influence your running, side step to evade being tackled, tackling and quick and efficient ball handling.

The Equipment

For my SAQ session you’ll require an agility ladder, some marker cones, a skipping rope and as an additional (optional) extra, a set of light-medium dumbbells.

The Workout

Perfect for building stamina, endurance, strength and fitness, this progressive workout will soon have you sprinting down the pitch, past one, then 2 defenders…and over the try line.

- Set up your 10 metre agility ladder

- Then place a marker cone 5 metres directly in front of the ladder as a starter cone, and another cone 10 metres directly behind the ladder as a sprint finish!

Warm Up

Dynamic exercises such as:

-        Jog 5 metres, walking lunge back & repeat x 5

-        Bear crawl 5 metres lateral step back x 5

-        Skipping for 2 minutes

SAQ Work

Start each of the following drills by jogging from the starter cone to the ladder, perform the drill and sprint from the end of the ladder to the 10m cone. From this cone walk back to the start and repeat for 3 rounds unless otherwise stated

1) One foot in each step.

2) Two feet in each step.

3) From the side of the ladder facing east for the first 2 rounds and west for the third and fourth round (to ensure bi-lateral movement is maintained) stay on balls of the feet and step both feet into the first step, the back out. Step across and into the second step in one movement and repeat all the way up the ladder.

4) Start with the left foot out of the first step, and right foot in the first step. Lateral step across and forwards so that you end up with the left foot in the second step and the right foot outside the ladder. Then repeat into the third step so that the right foot is inside the ladder and left foot outside the ladder. Repeat this sequence all the way up.

5) Star jump in and out of each step jump two feet into first step, out two feet forwards, in two feet into second step and continue all the way up the ladder. 

Now, to add intensity to these drills, place a cone 5 metres either side of the starter cone.

This time before you repeat each of the drills above, get to the starter cone in a low stance with your knees bent, back flat and on the balls of your feet. 

Lateral step across to the left and touch the cone, then all the way to the cone on the right. Then, lateral step back to the middle and sprint forwards to the ladder, perform the drill and sprint off at the end to the finish cone.

Ready to really pump up the intensity?

Perform the above progression and now add in a pair of medium weight dumbbells at the final cone!

Complete the 5 metre lateral steps, sprint to the ladder, perform the drill, sprint to the 10 metre cone where you have the dumbbells and perform a full body movement, such as DB deadlift, DB swings, DB clean and press X 20 reps.  

-        Complete 3 warm up rounds of each drill

-        Progress and complete 3 rounds of each one of the first progression

-        Final progression = throw the dumbbells in the mix for another 3 rounds


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