As we head into their winter sport season, we most certainly want our players fit. Getting players to run laps, shuttles and hinemullas, is a thing of the past and is often the last thing the players want, as it’s just not that fun or sport specific.
Very rarely do players run in straight lines in evasion sports such as rugby, netball, basketball, hockey, football etc… Consider using fitness / conditioning games. They hit the fun and sport specific boxes, whilst also developing skills and team cohesion at the same time. Here are some tips when designing fitness games:
The larger the SPACE the more running that will occur, although often at a slower pace, so large spaces are good for building aerobic capacity. Using small spaces will encourage short, sharp explosive movements.
Adapt RULES to get certain outcomes. For example in rugby, design rules to create line-breaks, unstructured play (such as kicks) or getting players to do certain actions, such as a press-up or touching a pole after making a touch.
Consider how much TIME the game should last. Depending on how hard the game is, you may want to play for a set period such as 60 seconds or 2 minutes - make it relevant to your sport.
Consider using SMALL-SIDED GAMES such as 3v3 or 4v4 so all players are involved. In large group games it is easy for players to ‘hide’ or the game might not go their way.
Design games that have CONTINUOUS PLAY, such as changing direction after scoring or throwing in a new ball if things break down.
You are unlikely to have sophisticated GPS units to measure certain metrics, so get feedback from players to test if the game design has met the desired fitness outcomes (from players you know will give you honest feedback). And just have fun with this. Your imagination is your only limit.
Check out more ideas on the Coaching Junior Rugby Resource
Image: Quino Al