Blog: Strength and Conditioning

Category: Rugby, General

Welcome back from the Strength and Conditioning Team Blog at Marlborough College.

There have been a few changes to the department, with Ruth Taylor replacing Ben Pullen as Graduate Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. We wish Ben Pullen good luck as he begins his PHD at Cardiff Met University.

Following a successful five-day pre-season training camp, the 1st XV are positively on track in their preparations for the forthcoming season. New Head of Rugby, Terry Gilmour stated:

“The primary aim of this training camp was for integration and team bonding of the Upper and Lower 6th, creating a culture in which the players have an ethos to buy in to the core values of the team."

These values are greatly hinged on those of Marlborough College: responsibility, resilience, rigour and respect.

Assistant rugby coach, Joe Quinn added that, “the players learned what it means to play in the 15 and that they must earn the shirt".

The Role of Strength and Conditioning in Pre-season

Pre-season training is designed to prepare players physically and mentally for the season ahead. This revolves around training overload, integrating technical and tactical skill development alongside strength and conditioning.  

Competing at the Right Intensity

Skill sessions throughout the training camp exposed the team to unfamiliar scenarios (e.g. changing the rules or shape of the ball) and performing under fatigue. Drills replicated the unpredictability of the game, in which players must react and adapt to various constraints, requiring team work and exploration, with the aim of empowering better thinkers and ultimately, better performers. Last Saturday, Colston’s School joined Marlborough for training where the teams were combined. This necessitated respect and sportsmanship towards the opposition, and again, adaptability to an unfamiliar scenario, alongside unfamiliar teammates.

There was a training game in the afternoon, where the team ran through their match day warm up and recovery. Warm up and recovery was emphasised throughout training to reduce injury risk and prepare the players optimally for performance.

Physical Development

Physical analysis of individual capacities was carried out to identify core components of strength, speed, power and endurance levels. Analysis allows coaches to identify strengths and weaknesses, informing training prescription, with the aim of turning the weaknesses into strengths for improved performance and reduced injury risk. Gym based sessions focused on functional competence, looking at quality of movement rather than quantity of weight lifted. This was done to develop the foundations for training to be progressed upon. The players were instructed to work in groups, coaching each other through movements and helping each other to select suitable weights (under supervision). This element of autonomy has been proven to increase motivation, whilst encouraging individuals to take responsibility over their progress.

Nutrition and Regeneration

The team’s behaviour off the pitch was just as important to the coaches as the team’s behaviour on the pitch. Therefore, high quality nutrition was ensured to refuel the team for sustained performance throughout the five-day period.

Regeneration activities such as walking and Go-Karting were also included for both soft tissue and psychological well-being. These activities were also important for team building as playing ‘for the sake of the game’ is not indicative of long term success; a winning culture is built on the team playing for each other with a ‘shared vision’ to lift towards.

Overall, the Strength and Conditioning Team are pleased with the results of the training camp, with planning and preparation now underway for the promising season ahead.

James Davies
Lead Strength and Conditioning Coach

Ruth Taylor and Joshua Wall
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coaches

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