Improve Fitness With Games!
Fitness preparation is difficult but important. The fitter teams tend to win more games, fatigue slower, maintain higher levels of performance and make fewer mistakes. This is all true, but only if you can actually maintain your fitness levels throughout the season. Whilst shuttle runs and the like have their place, the most sustainable form of fitness is through games.
As grassroot coaches, preparing for the season and creating a fitness plan can be difficult. Especially seeing as you will have a maximum of 2 sessions a week. Many coaches will be faced with dilemmas such as; should we focus on fitness or the technical/tactical aspects of the game?
Games are the perfect way for coaches short of time to hit 2 birds with 1 stone. Let's take a look at the following three session themes and introduce some games including tough conditioning aspects! It also happens to be the most enjoyable and engaging way for your players to build fitness.
Defence As A Unit
Here we are looking at our defence systems, working in 3s, line speed, resetting and conditioning all incorporated into a game. You as the coach can vary the constraints to achieve your aims:
- Line Speed: Include a distance they must achieve, each time, as long as they are connected.
- Staying Connected Failures in this aspect often occur when fatigue sets in or there is poor communication. Get them to do a down and up.
- Work in 3s: Use Tag belts connected together to tether the 3 players together, looking at how we support the player inside and outside of us.
To develop running lines in support we often stick players in a channel and get them running at pads, give ourselves a pat on the back that the can beat a pad and wonder why in a game it fails? Context is king! This game teaches how support is essential to development, using offload touch we can create many constraints too, specifically around conditionning.
Rugby is full of decisions that a teams, units and individuals have to make – in this practice we can use a really good skill development as in 2 v1 or 3v2 etc and build in repetition and fitness development. Constraints can be made by:
- Time: Increasing work time.
- Outcomes: How many tries in a set time.
- Setting targets for successful outcomes.
- Fitness punishments for unsuccessful outcomes.
These games and their variations are terrific at combining good conditioning principles with skill based outcomes! When you are pushed for time as a grassroots coach it is often this dilemma you need to balance. Constantly remind yourself of what you need to get out of a session and what you can't afford to miss out. Play games with a purpose!