By Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
My first exposure to rugby as a college football player in the Midwest was crude. As a collegiate athlete, not yet of age, competing on a successful men’s club side that included representative players, my technical understanding of rugby was miniscule. In the early ‘80s, sourcing technical rugby information was limited to begging to borrow a match video that had its format converted (at the local Indian spice store) from PAL to NTSC. I have vivid memories of watching 1970s tapes over and over again in an effort to coach myself. Little did I know that it was to be the beginning of a lifetime commitment to constant performance improvement as a player and a coach.
Constant performance improvement is born from both a mindset and action. Players constantly striving for improved performances embrace becoming a student of the game, constantly learning and striving to better understand how the game is played. They ask what the most successful players and teams do to prepare and compete and begin to construct their own approach to both. Video study, a major component of being a student of rugby, evolves from watching a match as a spectator, to dissecting how a team wins possession and their tactics to advance the ball toward the opposition’s tryline. The process of individual performance analysis is central to constant performance improvement. How many moments in a match did I have? What was the quality of those moments and how can I improve my understanding to have more?
Players committed to constant performance improvement continue to work toward a better understanding of their positional responsibilities and the team’s pattern of play. Knowing their roles cold frees them up to begin to know the other roles that need to be filled, which can be the difference between winning and losing.
They train daily to perfect their core skills, such as passing and catching, while toiling to master those advanced skills like scrummaging and decision-making under pressure.
Constant performance improvers are painfully honest about what they do well, and what they don’t do well. They create a plan, with help from their coaches, to further exploit their strengths while attacking those parts of their game where they are not as strong.
Elite fitness doesn’t happen all at once, but is built by training the right energy systems at the correct volumes within a periodized plan over weeks and months. In my experience, those most committed to performance improvement find a way not to miss a practice or scheduled workout.
Constant performance improvement requires coaches and players to challenge conventional methods of training. Thanks to the information age rugby coaches and players now have the rugby world at their fingertips. There is more technical rugby information freely accessible now than ever before. There is no excuse for “standing still” in the game. The presence of sport-specific information means no one has to beg to borrow those beat-up, decade-old VHS tapes to learn more about rugby.
Since my first piece back on February 13, 2007, it has been my privilege to share with you some of what I have learned. As I sign off here at www.rugbyrugby.com, I wish you the best of success and constant performance improvement.
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The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
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Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.