Rugby is a game which makes very heavy demands on fitness resources and fitness for the game is a prime factor if it is to be played well. Many players are prepared to work hard at acquiring skill, but they often hope to acquire enough fitness for the game merely by attending the club practice sessions. In other words, they expect the coach to get them fit. Fitness is the players’ responsibility and while we will always work on various aspects of fitness at practice, the coach cannot afford to spend valuable time of the team on physical conditioning.There are only two practices a week, and if we spend a large amount of time on fitness, how do we improve our game?
It is true that practice itself will demand heavy fitness requirements so it is the duty of every player to work hard outside of practice increasing and improving their fitness levels. My message to the players is simple. The fitter you are, the harder and longer you can practice; the harder and longer you can practice, the better you become at the game and the more successful the team becomes.
Now, lets make one thing perfectly clear. There is no easy way to achieve a high level of fitness regardless of the various advertisements you may see on TV, the internet etc. The only place that ‘Success’ comes before ‘Work’ is in the dictionary. So.. regardless of the ads around Crossfit or P90x or Insanity etc… they all require a common ingredient – Hard work.
We play rugby because we enjoy it or at least I hope that is why you are playing. Sometimes the fitness demands of the sport can be incredibly high and put you in a situation where your physical resources are taxed beyond your limits. This means, you become very uncomfortable, it could be painful etc. Extreme fatigue is a result of overtaxed fitness resources. It can expose you to a greater risk of injury because if you are extremely fatigued you will lack concentration and a lowering of your skills and decision making. So.. how does fitness matter to how much you enjoy the game? Higher basic fitness would make for greater enjoyment because you would be operating within your physical capacity and not stretching yourself beyond your limits.
The value of fitness can therefore be defined by the following objectives:
- building up a resistance to fatigue;
- aiding recover after exertion;
- increasing the capacity to learn skills;
- preventing injury.
Building up a resistance to fatigue gives you a great capacity for work. In terms of the Rugby Philosophy I have mentioned on this site, it means a higher degree of support and continuity. The nature of rugby is such that the game is periods of high intensity action interspersed with slower rest periods. The intervals between these periods are always varying. Increased fitness can improve your ability to recover from one period to the next. Your concentration doesn’t slip as much and your skills don’t diminish and you are not susceptible to making the mistakes that can lead to injury.
Please see me if you have any questions about what to do to get fit. Or, there is a whole internet out there just waiting for you. You might try sites like South African Rugby – Boksmart or Sport Fitness Advisor as a starting place.