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Warm up

Sevens Rugby Tournament Warm up and Cool Down Advice

A tournament can be a long day and it’s important to insure you are as ready for the first game as the last. If there are long breaks between games players often stiffen and run the risk of injury. To help prevent this I’ve outlined a warm up for a day at a tournament.

You will also need to bear in mind your food and liquid intake during the day. This is personal preference; some players will want minimal food in their stomachs for playing where as others will need more. But it’s good advice for all players to eat a light but substantial meal the night before that includes carbohydrates. Then snack through the day with bananas or other light carbohydrates when there are sufficient breaks between games. Drink lots of water, sugar drinks can help but make sure you don’t dehydrate.

Warm up for the first game

Part 1 (10 mins)
It’s good to build up slowly, so engage all your muscles with a light jog. For this first part you don’t need to run as a team, but the players should stay reasonably close together.

After five minutes start stretching with short jogs between your stretches. For example stretch your left calf then right then jog for 5 -10 paces. Use slow static stretches with holds of 5 seconds then increasing the time until you can feel the muscle relaxing. Use which ever order you prefer but I’d recommend starting with your ankles working up your leg, back shoulders and neck.

Part 2 (10 mins)
At this point I’d recommend coming together as a team to build up the intensity of exercises till players reach their full pace. For this you could mark out an area for players to run shuttles, play some light touch, handling drills or games to encourage movement. Break at regular intervals to perform some dynamic stretches such as leg swings, squats and press ups. Build up the intensity and ensure players aren’t pushing themselves too hard until most of the dynamic stretches are complete.

Part 3 (5 mins)
Use this period to run through your pull out techniques and defensive patterns to ensure you are comfortable in open play. Run some game situations with your starting team and substitutes running as opposition. If you need to run through your lineout or scrum this would be a good time.

Part 4 (5 mins)
Run some high intensity drills to encourage footwork before the game. You could use ladders, gates or just run one-on-ones against each other (touch not contact) in a confined channel.

After a game

After a game your legs will be full of lactic acid, it’s important to remove this so you can be ready for the next game. I’d recommend lying on your back shacking or cycling your legs for a few minutes while the team coach or manager gives their debrief. You could do this on your own (known as dead ants) or in pairs with one player on their back while the other stands holding the player on the floors legs giving them a gentle shake.

After a few minutes of this take a gentle jog performing long static stretches in regular intervals.

Before the next game

The warm up routine before the next game will depend on how long you have. If you have less then 30 minutes you’ll only get a few minutes after your warm down before you have to start again if you have over an hour you might need a light jog to ensure your muscles don’t stiffen before your warm up.

Less then 30 minutes between games

If you have less then 30 minutes between games your muscles will still be warm from the previous game but it’s important you carried out a proper warm down. This is probably the most important thing to ensure you’re ready for the next game along with taking on fluids.

Most teams use the tournament to gage when they should warm up. As a rule you should start warming up before the start of the game before yours. This will give you 14 minutes, but you might need more time to work on any weaknesses from the previous game. Start with a light jog with static or gentle dynamic stretches for 3 – 5 minutes. Move onto some handling drills or drills that focus on any weaknesses highlighted from the previous game (5 mins). Finish with high intensity footwork drills as in part 5 of the first game warm up.

Longer the 1 hour between games  

The risk with a long break between games is players can get stiff from not moving around. To reduce this I’d recommend carrying out Part 1 of the first game warm at least 30 minutes before you start the warm up for the next game.

This is low intensity but gets the muscles moving to reduce the chance of them getting stiff.

Then follow the warm up routine from the above session entitled ‘less then 30 minutes between games’ increasing the period of time for static stretches and so increasing the total warm up period for at least 20 minutes.