Frequently Asked Questions
Not a day goes by that I don't get a tweet or instagram DM from a young rugby player wanting to know the tricks of the trade, or how to get noticed in a trial. So what I have decided to do is write an extensive EBook/ downloadable package, that reveals all the training tips, and secrets that will either get you started on the road to being a rugby player, or will help you improve your current game.
I have poured all the knowledge I have taken from the last 12 years of being a pro player into it. This program is not just for the young, it’s for anyone who loves the sport of rugby, or anyone who wants to train like a pro rugby player. I have cut out all the nonsense and tell you, the reader exactly how it is, what to do, and most importantly what we do as pro players. What I have found that works, and what doesn't work.
This guide is going to come out before the world cup and will be ready to download through my current site www.jhbodyfire.com so if that sounds like something you might like, then please follow us on our social media channels, either @JamesHaskell or @JHBodyfire (BodyFire is more fitness and rugby focused than my personal account. I personally do 99% of the tweets, and reply to all comments and questions)
For those of you who are fans of BodyFire, will have noticed the subtle shift back to all things rugby. I feel there are loads of people out there living the fitness dream and sharing the do’s and don’ts, of staying I shape. However there is no one giving you an insight into rugby, or how to train and become a pro player. I want to share, all that this great sport has to offer with you, the amazing fans of BodyFire and of rugby in general.
With the package due out real soon, I wanted to cover off a few FAQ’s that I get asked all the time, to get the ball rolling. I wont go into mental detail here, as I don't want to spoil the surprise of the package, but this blog should wet the appetite of some of you budding young male and female players.
How do I stand out in a trial?
First things first, please know this, one game does not make a career! Not every game goes the way you want it, and rugby not being a solo sport means you are small cog, in a bigger machine. If your team are struggling then you can forget about making 80-meter runs, if you cant win the ball off your own set piece (scrums and line-outs) then you cant mount an attack. So don't be disheartened if you come off the field unhappy with how things went. I was always terrible in trial games when I was young, the occasion would get to me, and I worried too much about my competition and things that I couldn't control. If you asked anyone when I was younger, they would never have picked me to pay for Wasps, let alone England.
You need to keep putting yourself back into the shop window. Every you time you play for your school, club or county is a chance to shine. You never know who is watching. Plus Premiership clubs now have all sots of open days that you can attend as well as trials. Don't give up.
To be honest trialing for England u16 and u18s almost put me off rugby for life. They need to change the system but that is another story for another time.
So what is the answer? Its quite simple really, you need to worry about things you can control. If you are trying to showcase yourself then you need to identify through your training and other games, what is your point of difference. What makes you a stand-out player? Sadly being really hard working is not always going to get you a place. When you enter the world of professional rugby, luckily all the stats and your games are analysed so the unsung work gets recognized. Human nature being what it is, we only appreciate the big stand out moments, and this is the same for trial games. So you need to do what you do best, and take the opportunity when it presents itself.
If you are a big hitter then you need to put yourself in positions to make tackles. This comes down to being efficient in what you are trying to do. You don't want to be chasing the ball all over the park hoping someone will run straight at you. You need to get yourself into the right position in the defensive line to get that decisive tackle. This may mean sitting out a phase or two of play (not at the detriment of your team of course) to get into that position. When the adrenaline is going and you are nervous it’s difficult to take control. However with a bit of clear thinking you can see what is about to unfold in front of you and make a hit.
If you carry the ball well then you need to show case what you can do! Being efficient and technically correct will make a huge difference. Like tackling, when it comes to ball carrying, you need to put yourself into the correct position to get the ball. This means, staying calm reading the play and demanding the ball. Then comes the decision of do you use footwork, run low, run high, use a hand off etc. All of these things are areas that you can work on in your training before you get to the trial game. So when you are in the thick of the action, none of this is a shock to you.
I go into more detail in the package but my final point is, being super big and doing loads of gym work is not going to help you in a trial game. What will help you is good core skills, some of the thought processes I list above and a good level of fitness to execute the skills under pressure I keep missing tackles, I need to be bigger!
How do I do this?
It’s pretty simple if you keep missing tackles then it has nothing to do with your size. I was tweeted the other day from a concerned father, saying his son was being physically dominated, how could he get bigger? The boy was only 15!! Being really cut throat about it, you can’t make a good rugby player out of gym work alone, it will never work.
Some of the best players in the world are smaller than most. What they have over other people is great core skills, power and strength. So my answer top this dad was really simple. Forget about the gym, teach your son to tackle by working 10mins every day after training on it.
I couldn't tackle when I started at wasps, I hated it and I was bigger the most. Instead I cornered poor wasps legend Joe Worsley and worked with him every day for 5 years after training, to help me improve. I broke down the components of tackling, to different sections, which I drilled separately time and time again. I watched clips of him play and others, and looked at what they did. With a simple formula you will never really miss a tackle again!! It doesn't matter how big the guy or girl is you are tackling.
Its important that whatever you are coached you take ownership of, so what Joe told me to do, and showed me, I went over and came up with my own version of. I developed a mantra that I still use today. If I miss a tackle, then I look back and can straight away tell you that I missed it because; I failed to do something from the formula.
Anyway guys and girls thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more rugby stuff coming soon on my YouTube channel
There is Of course my EBook “An introduction to rugby fitness” which will be out really soon so watch this space.
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