When it comes to younger members of a rugby squad, there has often been a cloud of concern over the sort of training they should or shouldn’t be doing, how much, and when. While the risk of weight training for younger players is not as risky as previously thought, it is nevertheless important to incorporate a special junior section into your club’s programme.
Resistance training is a good place to start for the junior squad, with a view to improving physical fitness, and at the same time reducing the likelihood of injury. The benefits of a specially designed programme of strength and resistance training carry a lower risk of injury than many other activities that teens find themselves trying.
A proper programme of training can deliver improved performance, and increased strength, not to mention specific local endurance of muscular groups, dependent on the position the player trains for. Correct teaching of the rugby drills and exercises is the key. Many recent studies show contrary results to 1970s studies and now suggest that done properly, injuries are no more likely to be sustained through resistance training.
There are some great resources online such as rugby training drill videos by sportplan.net that will help you tailor your sessions to your squad.
Designing the Programme
Be patient. Teach the young players correct technique and coach them on what they are learning. Not only is this safer for the player, but it is also more effective. Check for full range of motion, and lower resistance as far as possible during an exercise and don’t train muscles unnecessarily.
There are various things your coaching team should be looking out for with the youngsters:
1. Use of proper exercise technique – stop if technique is wrong
2. Attention at all times – how many repetitions are planned?
3. Know what to do in case of injury
Ideally, you will never have to deal with an injury but being ready for one can ensure damage limitation.
In summary, resistance or strength training can be appropriate for young players as long as guidelines are followed. Always ensure your players are being supervised and train in a safe environment.