Speed training for individual positions on the pitch

We all want faster players. With limited time in training, it makes sense to tailor speed sessions specific to their roles on the pitch. This session is by Mark Calverley, head of physical education at Westlake Boys School, New Zealand.

Individual sprint speed is an important part of all players’ armoury. But there are also times when players need to work together in unified groups, such as defence.

This two-part practice helps players develop their ability to run together in defensive units. It also works on position and unit specific (back row or front row, etc.) running.

Divide the players into three groups: Front five (1-5), middle five (6-10) and back 5 (11-15). Split the exercises into two 10-minute sessions.

The defensive zone

Start all players in this zone and split them into groups of four or five. There should be at least one player from each of the three units (front, middle and back 5s). This leads to likely differences in the speed between players.

Players run different distances, directions and angles together and must remain in line. Players complete seven runs across the pitch.

Running lines

1 & 2: Forward then back.

3: Forward and diagonal.

4: Backwards diagonal.

5: Diagonal then straight.

6: Lateral.

7: Backwards.

Running unit areas

Front five

The players develop aerobic running (to build stamina and endurance) using varied speeds (jog, three-quarters pace and sprinting) around the pitch. At every third cone, they perform a major muscle exercise such as 10 press-ups, sit-ups or lunges.

Middle five

This aims to develop both aerobic fitness (moderate intensity – 60%) and anaerobic fitness (short bursts of high intensity running – 40%).

This can take place in the area inside the pitch between the halfway line and the 22m line and rest breaks should be kept to a minimum.

Players must sprint between 5m and 40m mostly from a standing start. Some sprints should require agility (around poles or in and out of cones). Others should involve a change of direction and curved running.

Back five

This aims to mainly develop anaerobic sprint speed but with an emphasis on agility and a change of pace. Quality sprinting is more important than the volume of sprints, so rest (to a degree) is allowed. Use multi-directional sprints, focusing on fast feet and agility.

Most sprints should be from a rolling start and include a mixture of straight, curved and multi-directional runs over 20m to 40m. Try some standing straight sprint starts over 5m to 10m for explosive power off the mark. Use agility poles/cones to vary runs.

This session is from Rugby Coach Weekly.

For more rugby coaching tips and products visit Rugby Coaching Club.

Rugby coaching tips

Improve your rugby training skills. Sign up for a FREE weekly email, full of simple proven tips, advice and drills.

"Just wanted to let you know that I find your emails interesting and very helpful! Thanks very much!"
Jules Hydleman, Coach, England

Please note that Better Rugby Coaching takes your privacy very seriously. We will never rent or sell your email address to any third party.

Get our FREE weekly coaching tips email

Receive GREAT coaching tips to help you become
a better rugby coach, straight to your inbox!

Get these FREE reports when you sign-up:

  • My Five Favourite Training Games
  • 12 Handy Tools for Novice Rugby Coaches
  • Rocket Ball – Four ready-made coaching sessions
  • 20 Clever Ways to Improve Your Rugby Coaching
  • The Guide to Coaching Junior Rugby Players
  • The Guide to Coaching Senior Rugby Players

Please note that Better
Rugby Coaching
takes your privacy very seriously. We will never rent or sell your email address to any third party