The most important training principles for second rowers
In my last article, I demonstrated the most important training principles for centres and wingers. In this article, we’re shifting focus to second rowers who want to enhance their performance strategically.
Second row players are commonly referred to as the “Engine Room”. They are most often the tallest players on the field making them perfect for lineouts, and are required to be very powerful players.
Additionally, it is clear that the role of the Lock has evolved over time. Traditionally, Locks were more supportive, abrasive players that assisted in rucks and mauls. However now, Locks are much more versatile players that frequently tackle and carry the ball. It is therefore necessary to be a quicker agile player if you wish to succeed playing Second Row than perhaps 10 years ago. The evolution of the game has led to players being not only bigger, faster and stronger, but just all round better athletes. If you want to become the best you can be and a dominant force on the field it is important that you look at the requirements of your role and begin to work on those key attributes.
To provide you with practical information to enhance your performance as a Lock, it is necessary for us to firstly analyse exactly what is required from Second Row players during game play.
When we analyse what Locks are required to do we come out with the following roles;
- Line Outs – Within a line out, Locks are the players who are pressed high into the air to catch a line out. Most often, the ball will be caught by the second lock at the far end of the line out and subsequently passed on to the scrumhalf, or setting up a drive.
Line Out Requirements:
- Vertical Jumping Power – Locks need to be able to jump as high as possible into the air (against opposition) to catch a line out. It is most common that the ball will travel to the back of the lineout therefore the taller Lock will go to the furthest end of the lineout. Although Locks receive support from other players in the line out it is imperative that they can jump as high as possible giving them as much advantage over the opposition.
- Ball Catching/Soft Hands – Despite being able to jump high, it is also important that Locks can manage the catch on receiving the ball. Locks should be able to handle to ball softly and pass on with no error.
- Timing – As well as being able to Jump high and catch the ball well, this needs to be completed with perfect timing, otherwise the ball will either go right over the head of them if they are to late or the opposition will easily take possession.
- Scrummaging, Rucks and Mauls
The Second row is an integral part of the unit in Scrummaging and the driving force behind the prop and hooker. They will also play key roles in the power behind rucks and mauls.
- Horizontal Power – It is clear from the roles of the Lock that they are required to provide a huge amount of Power in a horizontal direction (pushing forward in this case).
Out of the 3, I believe the most important one a Lock can specialise in would be Rucking due to its frequency during gameplay.
The table below analyses the physical requirements of Locks and examples of how to best train them.
Below is an example of a 3-Day training program for a Lock that could be worked with Rugby Training on Tuesday and Thursday with a Game on a Sunday.
- Locks should focus on Vertical Jumping Power and Horizontal Pressing Power
- In addition to these primary attributes, locks should still enhance accessory skills such as ball carrying and tackling due to the evolution of the game
- Ensure resistance training does not overpower technical/tactical work
- Ensure exercise in the gym facilitate the game play ability by being transferrable
About the Author: Dean Robertson MSc, BSc (Hons) is the founder of Elysium Training Systems Ltd. An Edinburgh based company focussing on working with a range of different populations including, team sports, powerlifters, physique athletes and general health and well-being clients looking to change their performance, lives and mind-sets. You can contact him through the Elysium Training Systems Facebook page or at firstname.lastname@example.org