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LTPD Pathway
Functional Screening
Anatomical Adaptation
Game Demands
Conditioning for Rugby
Periodisation in Rugby

Long Term Player Development Pathway and key principles

The importance of the Fundamental Movement Skills

Evidence exists that when the Fundamental Movement Skills are deficient then the attainment of sport specific skills will also be negatively affected (Gallaghue and Donnelly, 2003). This leads to what experts call a ‘proficiency barrier’ meaning that they will not have either the range or maturity in Fundamental Movement Skills necessary to advance or refine and develop sport specific skills later on (Gallaghue and Donnelly, 2003, Butcher and Eaton, 1989, Smyth, 2003). A proficiency barrier is much like lacking the vocabulary to build complex sentences. The logic being that just as a limited vocabulary may limit an individual’s capability to express themself verbally; a movement proficiency barrier may also limit a player from expressing his sport skills.

Within a technical context, a proficiency barrier may be that the player cannot master short and long kicks from the hand. This may have occurred as a result of the lack of kicking practice within both informal play and within coaching and practice sessions. This proficiency barrier can be managed with a progressive plan for kicking within the coaching session and during individual practice sessions. Also, a proficiency barrier may be that the player is not competent at cutting or quickly side-stepping to their left. Perhaps this change of direction ability, which is a movement skill, has not featured in their informal play or structured training and practice programme. Again, this can be addressed with simple and progressive training drills that encourage the player to move off their left.

For Strength and Conditioning coaches, the implications are that the young player should be exposed to a variety of skills during these early formative years and through the early stages of development within the Long Term Player Development Pathway. The intention is that by doing so, the player will lay down a broad vocabulary of movement that can be used later to refine the more sport specific skills. The skills of interest here include: running (at various speeds, from various positions, through various directions and changes of direction); stopping (with balance and control); weaving and chasing through a variety of patterns, kicking using a variety of techniques and from both left and right legs); passing, catching, punting and kicking using as large a range of techniques and methods as possible; falling; rolling; jumping, etc. To truly develop these skills in young players, we must provide opportunities for them and encourage them to be active on a regular basis. As coaches, parents, teachers and administrators (either in the community, in education and in sport), we all have a great responsibility in this area.