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Chris Robshaw seen during training wearing a GPS vest

This season Harlequins set a club record by winning their first 12 games. Head of strength and conditioning John Dams lets us into the secret of their success…

“Two-and-a-half seasons ago we started using GPS systems to monitor the volume and intensity of our players’ training throughout the week, to analyse how that affected their performance at the weekend. This enabled us to work out how best to work and utilise a player’s strength and power.

“Take Ugo Monye. He doesn’t have the ability to work aerobically for long periods of time, even though he is very powerful. Chris Robshaw, on the other hand, is not as explosive but has a high aerobic capacity.

“It’s very hard to change the type of person they are, but you want to maximise their capabilities. Ugo will never be a marathon runner, but he does have some aerobic potential, so you want to maximise that without losing his explosive capabilities.

“Although all our players need strong shoulders, glutes and hip flexors, they will all have slightly different training programmes to suit their individual needs, taking age and injury history into consideration.

“Since I arrived at Quins, I’ve been looking to improve the efficiency of our players’ movement, so we’ve worked on the biomechanics of sprinting. Last season we learnt about movement patterns, and this year we’re developing them. Good strength and range through your hips is vital for good acceleration.

“All our players do speed training, even the props. Joe Marler may only do 35-40 minutes per week, but he’ll work on his technique to improve his efficiency. Gone are the days when all a prop needs to do is push. He works on transition and acceleration, and will do some forward and lateral ankling drills. It’s all about small percentages, and they’re paying off at Quins right now.”

John Dams says…

  • You need to maximise a player’s potential
  • Good strength and range in hips is vital for efficiency of movement
  • Work on little details and you’ll see results

This article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Rugby World Magazine.

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