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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning


High-intensity interval training units are effective in improving a player’s aerobic and anaerobic fitness such that he or she can better withstand fatigue during play. Incorporating more rugby specific activities (upper body contact for example) will also add to the training effect.

Repeated sprint ability is another variant of high-intensity interval training however, it emphasises greater recovery between efforts such that the quality of effort is the important training aim. Again paying specific attention to developing greater sprint acceleration and maximum speed will enhance repeated sprint ability.

The third approach to conditioning for the game using small-sided games played on reduced pitch areas and using modified rules and involving a smaller number of players has been effectively used to enhance game fitness and rehearse technical skills. Small-sided games tend to be less structured than traditional fitness training methods but are very popular training drills for players of all ages and levels. Even though there is relatively little information regarding how small-sided games can best be used to improve physical capacities and technical or tactical skills in players, the S&C coach in conjunction with the technical coach can create an exercise intensity that is even more challenging than the traditional interval training approach. Further, consistent coach encouragement can also increase training intensity. We noted that the variation of exercise intensity tends to be lower in smaller playing areas compared to using a larger playing area.

Of the studies completed on SSGs, the following key points can be made:

  • SSGs containing fewer players can exceed match intensity and elicit similar intensities to both long- and short-duration high-intensity interval running.
  • Fitness and game-specific performance can be improved equally with SSG and generic training drills.
  • More experienced players will apply greater technical and tactical skills during small sided games compared to less experienced players.