Physical conditioning exercises for on the field

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As the Rugby Premiership counts down to the big kick-off and the world awaits the action from Japan this autumn, many club players may be finding the new season a little harder than they anticipated. Whether this is down to a few too many years’ experience or a long hard summer of relaxation, players may be in need of some help readjusting to the feel of the ball.

When looking at rugby training drills to help work on a player’s conditioning, it is worth looking at the views of Ireland legend Ronan O’Gara, who now splits his time between coaching in Christchurch and Paris. When talking about the All Blacks, he has noted that the players “prepare very well and keep it simple“. This is down to drills and conditioning and then implementing plans on game day.

In-game performance comes down to two key aspects: physical conditioning and management of the ball. Any good training drills should combine these two aspects and the days of endless laps around the pitch should be well behind us. Whilst they can certainly help to increase a player’s physical fitness, they are dull and demoralising.

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Circuit training

A range of stations, with a different exercise at each combining something physical with ball skills or tackling, can help to work on conditioning in addition to game management. The circuitous nature of this activity can also help players not to get bored and bogged down by the exercise. Exercises such as having players complete a press-up before receiving and offloading a pass, or running shuttles whilst passing, are great for this drill. Similarly, a well-planned circuit can keep the whole squad busy at the same time. For more ideas for your circuits, visit a resource such as

Drills for leg power

It may be necessary to build power in the legs of players, specifically the young. Pair players up, arm one with a tackle shield and ask the other to begin in a prone position before getting up and driving their partner back a few steps. Repeat for four reps before swapping.

Another great idea that needs no additional equipment is the resisted run. Again, players work in pairs, with one running and the other providing resistance by holding onto their shirt. Players should run for approximately five metres and then swap roles.

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