Rugby running with or wihout the ball is more than just running. Maintain balance, vary pace, choose running angles, minimise injury, create options.
"Running hunched", with a bit of a "stoop" is what I recall doing. Do some more research on this, I`m having to remember a long time ago!
I would say my back was curved and rounded to some extent, pushing my shoulders forward and shortening my neck as opposed to having my chest out and my chin up. As I type this the sight of wary boxers in a ring comes to mind
This may not be the best posture for top speed but should be good for minimizing your injuries and providing a formidable target for would-be tacklers.
A rugby field is a hard place to be. At any moment you may have a collision with other players. If you`re the ball carrier, plenty of other players are doing their best to put you on the floor. It`s well worth being prepared.
Kurtley Beale has received training from sprinter Matt Shirvington. Apparently the training included "staying tall". Learning how to run powerfully and at maximum speed is worth considering.
If you are at top of your game, squeezing the last ounce out of your sprinting ability may make good sense. For others, learning to run fast and powerfully whilst avoiding injury may be more important.
You are often carrying the ball in rugby and running as well. This prevents you from using the same style as a track sprinter.When you want to run flat out with the ball you have to find a way to maintain your balance and keep the ball secure. You can find out how you do this where I explain the one arm carry.
At other times you`ll want to stay balanced, keep your options open and keep the opposition guessing about what you intend doing with the ball. The best way to do this is to run with the ball in two hands in front of you. Find how you do this at the page on the two hand carry
Running at top pace is not something you do all the time in rugby. You often run at a fraction of the pace you are capable of running and you use change of pace as tool to beat the opposition.
Imagine running at three-quarter pace with an opponent closing rapidly to tackle you. If you are able to suddenly, quickly and just at the correct moment change to a faster pace, it may be enough to avoid the tackle and put you in the clear.
Change of pace is also very useful in changing the nature of a contest. I am a shorter player with the abilty to accelerate rapidly. However I never had a great top speed. I was able to prolong my runs by changing them from one long run to several shorter sprints. Baulking slightly then accelerating hard can throw off longer legged opponents.
Changing pace is something you can easily practice by yourself. See yourself supporting the ball carrier, trotting along at half or three-quater pace then suddenly clap on the pace to receive the pass and burst through the gap.
When you`re practicing alone it`s really helpful to vizualise the situations you will be in. Read almost any rugby related autobiography and you will be told stories about pretending to be playing in great matches.
This image shows the position of a player you want to beat.
Rugby running, angled run
Often the temptation is to run a line to beat the player on the outside, Doing this helps your opponent. They have a shorter distance to travel than you do and it`s relatively easy to work out where to tackle you.
They also (in this example) are able to use the sideline as an extra defender, leave you less room to manoeuvre and reduce space for potential support play.
Instead, you can get them to stay where they are or change position to their disadvantage by changing the direction that you run. Running straight (at them!) fixes them in position.
Rugby running, straigbt run
You make ground while they stay fixed in place, If you change your angle as you run towards them they have to change theirs or risk you running past. This allows you to set yourself up for a sidestep either way or for passes or dummy passes to support players.
The straight run, surprisingly, creates much more doubt and concern for the defence and this greatly increases your chances of getting past them.
This is a very simple example which can play out in many different ways in a game.
I explain elsewhere that I spent a lot of time doing gymnastics and playing basketball. The gym helped me develop great balance and control of my body. The basketball helped me with rapid acceleration and decelleration. Both sports helped me stay on my feet in rugby and put great spring in my legs.
If you don`t have a background like mine, you may find it useful to make up for it with some intensive activities. To my mind people tend to specialise too much these days. You may think the more you practice rugby the better you will be. Perhaps doing other things may be as good or better.
You can do planned training to prepare yourself for rugby. Read this article about rugby specific training to improve your knowledge, strength, power and fitness.
Doing some martial arts training may toughen you up, help you avoid injury when you`re tackled and just generally help you cope better with the rough and tumble nature of rugby.
Sprint training and practice may help you with your top speed and put more strength into your legs for all the times you need the pushing and leaping power they provide.
Being supple also helps your running. You are more able to twist and turn to evade tackles and more able to resist injury from twists, turns and strains. You may find Yoga helpful.
You can spend the off season involved in a number of activities and feel the benefit when you start your rugby running for the new season.
You`ll run straight past`em!
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