Any session of rugby union regardless of time of year or session aim must include a suitable and progressive warm-up that is specific, dynamic and prepares the body both mentally and physically for the session ahead. This is done for many reasons including gaining game mentality, ironing out any errors early and the most important to reduce and prevent the risk of injury.
During the winter season, when the good old British weather is at its best it is imperative to allow a little extra time for the warm-up, which can seem frustrating considering we can be limited with time anyway. But if you plan the warm-up well you can include some level of fundamental skill into that time.
Every warm-up should contain a good mix of pulse-raising activity, dynamic muscle stretching and specific skill activity aiming during winter to last anything between 20-25 minutes.
By a suitable warm up one thing that really bugs me is when we see coaches turning up to sessions and the first thing we hear is ’right warm up go jog 3 laps of the pitch.’ Oh my lord that phrase alone can drive me to tears!!!
So what’s the best way to spend 20 minutes or so at the beginning of the session?
Set up on the try line to start:
- Jog out to the 22m line and jog backwards back x 6
- Alternate side steps out and walking lunge back x 6
- Sumo squats out and alternate high knee skip on the way back x 6
This routine should take between 4-6 minutes.
Through this mini segment of the warm-up, you've performed movements through each of the key directional patterns of the human body and warmed up all key limbs, the core and completed a dynamic stretch.
Next is the box drill (working around the 22m area)
Each player should have a ball for this.
- Start in the corner of the try line / touchline and run up the first side performing a zig-zag side step drill.
- Jog down the 22m line performing high to low finger taps (emphasising ball handling skills) turn
- Down the second touchline score a try every third step, using alternate hands
- Perform a sprint down the full length of the try line
Do this drill continuously for 8-10 minutes.
Finally, to finish the warm-up phase spend 6-10 minutes playing touch rugby, starting with a tap on the shoulder resulting in a tackle. After 2 minutes progress this to a ‘grab both shoulders’ tackle, then for the remainder of the time it a wrap up and hold for 2-3 seconds before release.
This warm-up gives a good mix of key aims for a progressive warm up, will get players mentally switched on and includes specific injury prevention and skill sets. You may be wondering why there is no area dedicated to static stretches and holding stretches. This is due to static stretches working more flexibility than warming up muscles, and if performed during a warm up may cause the muscles to stretch beyond its natural position increasing the risk of injury.