The Multi-Sport Athlete

Wrestling for Rugby Coaches Session December 8th; Trail Running to Improve Balance and Footwork

I’ve always been a big believer in multi-sport athletes and how other sports can improve your rugby performance. Here are a couple of items that came across my desk.

The first is wrestling, it’s obvious how this helps especially at the breakdown areas, body balance, leveraging throws, core strength. Players with wrestling backgrounds will usually win the one on one breakdown battles. See the session info below, Wrestling for Rugby Coaches and Teachers, the session in on the mainland at Kitsilano Secondary, social at Meraloma afterwards, Wednesday December 8th.

The other tip came from Dr. Matt. After watching the men’s university championships I noticed some of the big forwards struggling to keep their feet in secondary ruck contact. That’s when you’re not the primary person impacting the ruck but you end up on the ground anyway. Rugby is a game played on your feet, you’re of little use when on the ground. I asked Dr. Matt what he recommended for footwork and balance and trail running was his suggestion, makes sense, you can read his thoughts below. He’s even encouraged rugby athletes he’s mentored to enter trail running competitions.

Wrestling for Rugby Coaches and Teachers – Proceeds To Flood Relief

Join Curry Hitchborn, Justin Abdou and Joe McCullum for a talk on why Wrestling is a great idea for rugby players during winter.

About this event

Wrestling and Rugby have forever been well correlated sports. Many common techniques and movements. Wrestling teaches players to have better body position for tackling or clearing people off the ball. Beyond just making you a better rugby player, diversifying the sports a kid plays will help prevent longer term injuries. Wrestling in the winter will make better rugby players in the spring!

The message we want to convey is that encouraging rugby players to wrestle in the winter is a good idea. If you want your rugby team to be better, encourage your players to join wrestling.

Don’t mistake the price of this event as one that lacks value. We will have a presentation with on mat activity from 4:30-6 at Kitsilano Secondary and then walk over to the Meralomas Clubhouse for some refreshments and snacks. EVERYONE WILL RECEIVE 2 FREE DRINK TICKETS.

This is an all-star cast of coaches:

Justin Abdou – 20 Year SFU Wrestling Coach, Olympian

Curry Hitchborn – UBC Rugby Coach, 4x National Championships

Joe McCullum – UBC Strength and Conditioning Coach

John Tait – BCRU Technical Director



Trail Running to Improve Balance and Footwork

In conversation with Dr. Matt

Regarding footwork one way we have been able to solve this without trying too hard or programming athletes and having them run drills to improve agility (which actually does not work because it has to be innate and natural), is using trail running.

Trail running on terrain with lots of rocks and roots, ups and downs, works well. This forces the athlete to increase stride rate AND stride length which are the two attributes that contribute to faster speeds. The rough terrain results in the feet moving very fast at times while still moving linear. Compare that to just running down a pitch

The key on these runs is to run at the same intensity no matter what the terrain. For example, short quick steps up hills increases leg power that transfers to quick feet later. When you hit a downhill you have to push hard to keep at the same intensity but at the same time your feet are zigzagging everywhere to remain moving and stable. Do this 3 times a week about 5 km each run and it is very powerful. After 2-3 months there will be notable differences. The earlier kids start doing this the better translation to agility later in life

Trail running done frequently will help solve this problem [footwork and balance] and it will improve running fitness which is key in rugby.

Athletes sometimes have to look outside their sport in order to enhance performance inside their sport.

A couple of older articles on BCRN from Dr. Matt

Looking at Aerobic vs Anaerobic Training and Performance

Dr. Matt Examines Research on the Physiological Differences Between 7s and 15s Athletes

Posted in Science.