My 6th year with Brookline High School and 3rd season as head coach of rugby brought about some pretty amazing challenges. The season in terms of wins and losses was a tough one, but there is so much to carry forward from this and I certainly do not look at it as if it was a lost or failed season. Like I've said, if all I cared about was wins and losses, I'm probably not a very good coach for these kids.
Just let them play- With the previous season being canceled, it was a big thing for the kids to just step on the pitch with a ball again. Everything after that for them was a bonus, any win, any score, any successful pass or run they made was just extra. Also, within reason, I stopped worrying so much about the system we may or may not run and just let the kids play, to start, then adjusted. Worked pretty well, so I’ll remember to let the shackles off a bit earlier next time.
Environment is everything- The chemistry and team environment the kids had this year was awesome. The girls team had their inaugural season this year and they brought so much energy and positivity to the table. I will say the boys reciprocated it right back, which brought the two teams together to make it a club. I could not have planned this any better myself. As I stated, in terms of wins and losses, this was not an amazing season, but the environment created here was something I hope I can replicated many times over the coming seasons.
Bring in help you trust- As the head coach I’ve had 3 different assistants in 3 seasons, less than ideal. This season, fingers crossed though, we will likely have the same person returning to help. I’ve put my trust in the previous two assistants, what choice do I have after all? This year in particular though, I never batted an eye when it came to the decision he made for the portions of the team he was in charge of. Heck, at some point, it felt like we had ESP because we’d be thinking the same thing often and didn’t need to say much to each other in many aspects.
Adapt or sink- The rules and regulations were super fluid this year, I know that might come as a shock to you that have been following this COVID pandemic thing. With the constant changes and being told we were OK to do one thing, being told to reverse direction and then reverse direction again, it made heads spin. The kids adapted really well though, every time something changed, they worked hard to get adjusted quickly. One match we didn’t know if we were playing against a team’s full XV or playing a reduced squad match of 10 on 10, they adjusted and performed well just the same. From every season out, my head will remain firmly on a swivel and be prepared to make adjustments, hope for the base case scenario and expect/be prepared for the worst.
I always learn something from these young people, they'll always keep my guessing and on my toes, but that surely will never make it boring. Thanks for reading everyone, have yourself a day!
A bit more about training for a sport that’s near and dear to my heart (or anyone that is going to be taking impact to their shoulders). No need to reinvent the wheel for these athletes, it’s just a matter of taking the stuff you already know and applying it appropriately.
Ruggers need two things when it comes to shoulder training;
1) They need to build up it's armor to take the impacts they'll be dolling out and absoring with it.
2) They need to provide it some care to be sure any nagging little injuries don't have an impact on their play (especially tackling).
These are all pressing variations I use with ruggers in mind.
Football Bar Bench
Bottoms Up Press
It's all about building up the armor, but doing it in a way that puts the least amount of unnecessary strain on the shoulders. They take enough abuse during a season filled with big clashes, prepare for the big clashes without putting them at risk.
Thanks for reading everyone, go out and get after it!
Name a sport, not either lifting sport, that you are only using two arms or two legs at time, go ahead, I’ll wait ....damn near impossible isn’t it?
Hence if you train athletes or are an athlete of any sort, you better be sure there are single arm and single leg variations of exercises in that program.
I want to focus on single leg, specifically single leg power.
Speed kills in all sports, speed & power are things you can separate from each other. Hence, if you’re spending a lot of time on one leg, or using one leg, in your sport and you want to be fast because well...can never have too much speed, then yeah single leg power should be addressed as well as that strength thingy.
Launching from one leg, landing on one leg, jumping laterally on one leg, yes it all comes into play. Of course, I’m going to circle this back to that sport I love of organized grab ass, also known as rugby. Taking off from one foot is a big thing in rugby especially if you play one of the back 3 positions (wings and fullbacks). Those high kicks that those pain in the neck scrum-halfs and fly-halfs are putting up, it's better to take them at their highest point possible, which means getting up in the air and often launching from one leg. Have a look at the video I’ve posted, the guy in the funny helmet (scrum cap) is Liam Williams, nicknamed Bomb Defuser in Chief, because he is so good at collecting these high kicks in rugby, aka bombs or high bombs. Have a look at what he does both going up for the kick and coming down from collecting it. Didn’t see 2 feet used much there did you?
The 2nd video you see me doing a one leg jump, note the strong landing. If my ogre ass can land without shaking the camera/earth too much, you can too. Not getting lazy on this is important because not only can you save yourself a bit of pain by catching yourself when you land, it enables you to get yourself back int he game and make a move, those chasers aren’t going to make themselves miss after all.
2 other things you’ll see in training, with me especially, are single leg landings, which should be introduced early and Heiden jumps (or skater hops). There’s about 1001 variations (ok maybe over estimated there) of these exercises that you can progress and pregress, program them accordingly.
Of course, let’s not forget that in order to have power, you need to have some strength to pair with it. My favorite one leg strength exercises include, Bulgarian split squats, 1-leg squats (either off box or to a box to start), 1-leg RDLs, reverse lunges, and 1-leg hip thrusts.
As you can see, 1-leg power is kind of important for sports. Heck, it’s even important for those that are getting older. One thing that goes down hill in older adults is power, and when it gets bad enough, you end up doing one of those cartoonish slip and falls on the ice. Best to be getting everyone a bit of single leg power in that case. Find what variations are working for you, both in landing & taking off, as well as going in different planes.
Hopefully this can help someone out with their training or programming and give you that little extra. Any other thoughts, questions or things I missed? Feel free to comment or hit me up. Thanks for reading and have a good Thursday!
Jarrod Dyke, CSCS