Life as a Professional Rugby Player

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Guest blog by Paul Hatton, Hull Kingston Rovers RFC

Life as a Professional Rugby Player – a Typical Week

Structure of our week:

  • Sunday Game – Pool Recovery Straight after the game
  • Monday – Individual Recovery and Video
  • Tuesday – Wellness, Pre-participation, Team Video, Field Preparation, Field Session, Recovery, Lunch, Weights, Individual Video
  • Wednesday – Day Off/Individual Recovery
  • Thursday – Team Run
  • Friday –  Game Day

Sunday

The following is a snap view of my thoughts on the Game today…..

“Much improved team performance. Discipline excellent, conceded fewer penalties and managed our turnovers much better. Stuck to the game plan and functioned much better as a unit. Resulted in a very impressive win over the league leaders 40 points to 10.”

With no significant injuries, recovery begins immediately after the match. This takes the form of cool down protocol followed by ice baths to promote recovery from the high intensity stresses of the game.

Finishing with pool recovery at the local David Lloyd Health Club. The players are required to wear skins1 (compression garments) post pool session and advised to use muscle stimulation devices to continue the recovery process2. All the recovery strategies we have in place are based on sound scientific underpinning.

I need to focus on post-game nutrition for the team which includes foods high in carbohydrates and high quality protein.

Monday

This is a player’s day off but with the expectation that they will review their individual performance through a video of the game and carry out another individual recovery session.

Recovery days are very important. The recovery strategy for each player needs to be spot-on to enable them to be in peak condition for the next game, particularly when there is a short turn around, Sunday to Friday games.

The coaching team will be in to review the game. Players not involved in the game and injured players will come in for rehab, weights, conditioning and treatment.

Tuesday

This will be the main training day of the week due to being a short turn around.

The day for the players will start with a quality breakfast, such as fresh salmon, poached eggs and steamed spinach all cooked in coconut oil, with a choice of a freshly made vegetable or fruit smoothies.

There are many studies looking at the benefits of unrefined coconut oil and we suggest it to our athletes.

Before arrival to the training ground the players are asked to fill in their wellness which is an app on their phone with 5-6 questions asking them how they feel, how they slept, hours of sleep, feeling of recovery etc.

On arrival they are expected to go through a series of pre-participation tests, body weight and hydration levels which when combined and analysed give us an insight into how the players are mentally and physically. These important tests, help us set their individual training day.

Training

Players will also use this time to go through some individually set rehab and take their pre-prepared supplements which include: ‘green’ drinks; fish oils; probiotics; vitamins and minerals all supplied by PRP Nutrition.

We then have a team video session to review Sunday’s game and preview Friday’s game.

Preparation for the pitch session includes self myofascial release, stretching and activation.

GPS units and heart rate straps are worn by all members of the squad to enable us to monitor training load. This allows us to develop individual loads for each player. There are very fine margins between ideal preparations for a game and over training leaving players in a fatigued state. This session would be a low intensity session being within 48 hours of a game.

Heart Rate Monitors

On completion of the pitch session, players receive a pre-prepared post training shake consisting of carbohydrates and amino acids and are expected to go through another recovery session.

A lunch is prepared for the players post recovery, consisting of a main meal of high quality protein and fats, salad bar with wraps, cold meats and fresh fruits.

Example Meal:-

Coconut Chicken

Ingredients:-

  • 2 large Chicken Breasts
  • 2/3 cup shredded coconut
  • Peppers
  • Courgettes
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

Method:-

Mix the coconut, garlic and coconut oil in a bowl. Then spread the mixture on top of the chicken breasts. Cut the remaining vegetables and place on a baking tray, coat in olive oil, lemon juice, and place in the oven for roughly 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked.                                                                                         

Players who played in the weekend’s game have a massage, an individual video review with the coaches and the rest of the afternoon off.

Players who weren’t involved at any level over the weekend would follow their individual weights programme, treatment or additional conditioning as required.

A typical weights programme for this session would look something like this dependent on the individual needs:-

Explosive Lift

Vertical Pull

Squat Pattern

Horizontal Pull

Hip-dominant Pattern

Carries

Wednesday

All players, except injured players, get Wednesday off.

Some players undertake media duties and community development programmes, visiting local schools to deliver lifestyle lessons and to engage children’s interest through sport.  Coaching staff are in as usual to treat injured players and undertake specialised conditioning sessions such as AlterG running sessions.

Thursday

Injured and non-squad players are in early for physio review and individual rehab, weights and conditioning sessions. Squad players arrive later and have a similar programme to Tuesday finishing with a ‘team’ run; finalising the game plan and running through set and special plays specific to the opposition.

Squad Training

Team meal at a local restaurant.

Friday

Game day. For Friday away games we meet at the ground around lunchtime, depending on the fixture.

The team travel by coach to a hotel close to our destination for a pre match meal, three or four hours before the game.

There’s a final team meeting to reinforce the game plan before players receive a massage and get strapping applied.

We arrive at the venue about 90 minutes before kick-off. Changing rooms are already prepared for the players with playing kit and individual supplements.

1 http://www.skins.net/uk/skins-science/

http://www.fireflyrecovery.com/the-firefly/the-science

Paul

Paul Hatton is Head of Strength & Conditioning for Hull Kingston Rovers, a professional rugby league football club based in Hull.

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