Regional Academy Agility
Many of the competencies required for Speed training also hold for Agility training, particularly with regard to good acceleration mechanics. They are listed here again for the sake of clarity:
- Driving the arms from the shoulders, not the elbows
- Running with dorsi-flexed ankles (90º angle) to decrease ground contact time
- Running with a high stride rate
- Running with a stable pelvis
- Running comfortably with an inclined torso, which aids acceleration and ease of handling.
In addition to these principles, the ability to decelerate is also critical to rugby players. Hence, during the deceleration process, players should demonstrate the ability to:
- Reduce the height of the body's centre of gravity and,
- Increase their stride rate and, consequently, reduce their stride length.
One of the most crucial facets of agility is the ability to change direction at pace. While some players will inevitably be able to do this better than others, and with a variety of footwork patterns and deceptive actions, young players, should aim to be able competently to:
- Step to the left or the right, explosively, when running at pace.
Young players should also be adept in the safe use of agility training apparatus such as:
- Mini-and full sized hurdles
- Poles and cones.
Finally, young players may experience some form of jump training (plyometrics). While such forms of training can be extremely beneficial to players, their use requires the same attention to detail as all other forms of ''high force'' training, such as strength training. As opposed to describing a training system for plyometrics, and encouraging certain ''safer'' training practices before others this document will describe the basic movement competencies any young player should aim to be able to perform, before taking part in high intensity jump training sessions:
- A co-ordinated counter-movement when vertical jumping, where the arms are used effectively to increase jump height
- Stability at the ankle, knee, hip and in the low back when landing on two feet after performing a vertical jump (or lineout)
- Stability in landing on either foot, when performing a vertical jump
- The ability to land on a flat foot, with a dorsi-flexed ankle, when performing a series of hops or bounds
- The ability to hold a neutral lumbar spine when performing a series of hops or bounds.