I made the decision when I was 16 to focus on Track and Field (sprints and long jump and eventually just sprints) as a full time sport. It was a tough decision but I wouldn’t have gotten any further in either sport if I was sharing the focus between Rugby League and Sprinting. I’m not gonna sit here and tell you “I was a superstar and stopped because of injuries” like every second 20 year old who is no longer playing any sport lol, but I was a relatively good player and with enough hard work had I chosen League I might’ve made it to a semi-professional or professional level but that’s not the point.
What I’m here to tell you is without a doubt in my mind, when I was also doing athletics in the summer and maintaining my sprint training throughout the winter season I was playing my best rugby league. Why ? Maintaining my top speed and improving it when I could kept my speed in the game HIGH, If I made a break in clear space I rarely got caught, and if I had to turn and chase I had the confidence of chasing most players down. Sprint training doesn’t have to be extensive in season but all players can highly benefit from speed training, from technique, to drills, acceleration and speed and agility training.
Something Roger Fabri says a lot is “if you have two players with the same skill set the faster player will get picked”. Half of the athletes I train are solely track and field and the other half are athletes from team sports (NRL, AFL, Soccer and Rugby) who are improving their speed for their game.
But sprint training doesn’t just stop at “Top Speed”, learning good running technique improves your efficiency and ability to move at all speeds, saves you energy for repeat speed efforts which occurs a lot in a game situation, you become better at controlling your body and thus carries over your skills in change of direction and with educated sprint training your confidence improves significantly helping all aspects of your game and performance!
So my message is simple, if you aren't sprint training while playing team sport I don't think you are playing to your full potential.
Get out there, and Get FAST!