Speed & Agility Training for Rugby – The Warm Up – Damian Marsh

A general warm up can be used to increase the core temperature of the body consisting of general running, stretching and dynamic range of motion exercises. However, the latter stage of the warm up can be made more productive by incorporating drils that aid in technical development or specificaly lead into the type of speed or agility session to be performed.
The folowing drils are some examples of drils to use in the warm up that have a specific focus. Where possible they can be performed with a run out to transfer the theme of the dril into the specific running action.

Acceleration Posture Focus

Remember to keep the intensity lower with each dril because you are stil warming up. However, these drils can also be used throughout the main part of a training session at higher intensities to refine specific areas of running technique.


Great info damian. good to get some visual aids onto a post as well!

just a quick question about speed/agility sessions: would i be right in thinking you do agility drills before max speed drills in one session?

cheers mate!



Thanks mate. It just depends on your goal. There are pros and cons of both. There are times when i will do agility first, times when i will do top speed work first and times when i will do them in seperate sessions. What you do first in the session is usually done with the best quality. Cheers Damian.

Hi Damian
Did you see the latest peak performance edition with a study that said using equipment makes no impact on a person’s agility! Any views on that mate?


G’day JMC

No i haven’t seen that article. Yes agility is specific. However, there are many factors that affect agility on the rugby field. Now in a warm up situation or if a player is poor in movement ability then i think they can work on this in a more closed setting. e.g. accel/decel mechanics, the abilty to plant & cut. However, for players who have good movement ability then there is better transfer in performing agility in specific conditions where they have to improve their reaction and decision making ability to different visual cues.




Yeah true mate now your gettin into real specific training, but you got to know your stuff, players will see through pretty quick. Thats what sets the real coaches apart from the textbook / theory guys.
Cheers mate


hi damien
seeing the speed and agility thread reminded me that i wanted to say a huge thank you for designing me such an awesome program around 6 weeks back, it has got me feeling faster and sharper than ever, without losing ground in strength or size heres the program below you designed just as a quick reminder

Monday – Acceleration Focus

1A. Wall Drill 4 x 3es
1B. Speed Bound
2A. Sled Sprint 5 x 10m
2B. Sprint 5 x 10m
3. Sprint 2 x 20m
4. Arc Sprint Left 2 x 20m
5. Arc Sprint Right 2 x 20m

1A. Hang Power Clean 3-5 x 3-5
1B. Single Leg Box Jump 3-5 x 3-5es
2A. Trap Bar Deadlift 3 x 3-6
2B. Box Jump 3 x 3-5
3A. Upper Push
3B. Upper Pull
4. Abs

Wednesday – Max Velocity

1A. Patters 4 x 10m
1B. Stiff Legged Bounds 4 x 15-20m
2. Fly In Sprint 3-5 x 30/10m (include arc fly ins)
3. Ins & Outs 3-5 x 15/15/15/15m
4. Sprints 3-5 x 40-60m

1A. Hang Power Snatch 3-5 x 3-5
1B. Hurdle Jump 3-5 x 3-5 (fast contacts)
2A. Jump Squat with Bar 3-5 x 3-5
2B. Borzov Jump 3-5 x 3-5
3A. Upper Push
3B. Upper Pull
4. Abs

Friday – Agility/Mixed Focus

1. MB Caber Toss Forwards – Drop to Push Up position and scramble out 10m x 5
2. MB Caber MB Squat & Chest Throw + Accel 10m x 5
3. Lateral Hop x 3 into 10m sprint (if hopping to left, hop on left leg and drive off at 45degrees to right on sprint out) x 3-5es
4. Agility Scramble x 5 (Set up a 20m long x 10m wide rectangle and place a variety of cones or poles within the grid. When you enter the grid you sprint towards the other end but side step/ swerve the cones or poles. You can have a few different coloured cones for spins or hitting the deck. e.g. sidestep the white poles but spin on the red poles).
5. Ins & Outs 15/15/15/15m x 5 (Must be done as a swerve not just a straight sprint. You can also have ball in hand and have a chip and chase component)

1A. Hang Power Split Snatch 3-5 x 3-5
1B. Zig Zag Bounds 3-5 x 3-5 (fast contacts)
2A. High Box Step Ups 3-4 x 6-8es
2B. Lateral Bound 3-4 x 3-5es
3A. Upper Push
3B. Upper Pull
4. Abs

it really has worked wonders with me, and im feeling really confident with the season about to start
i was just wondering how you feel i should adapt this as i enter the in-season? i play semi-pro standard in england, division 2, so still only club train twice a week, tuesday and thursday evenings, but am seld employed and work from home, so have time to train up to twice a day no problem at all. a, looking to carry over as close to a professional training program as possible on the physical side of thinsg, even if the clubs dont always replicate it!!

once again mate, any help hugely appreciated, you and ash really sorted me out on last request, very grateful that people take considered time to help like that

cheers mate


G’day Joe

That is really great to hear. But a program means nothing without the buy in, committment and consistency of the player. So congrats to you!

Here are some ideas for your in season program. However, remember the focus must be on skill & playing. Strength & Conditioning work is a means to an end. No matter how fast or fit you are, you won’t display it in a game if you go in fatigued.

SPEED OPTION 1 – Good to use on a Thursday pre weights or on its own before a Saturday game

Repeat circuit x 3-5 with 30sec rest b/n exercises
1A. Stiff Legged Bound x 15m
1B. Sprint x 10-20m
1C. Power Skip Up x 15m
1D. Sprint x 10-20m
1E. Speed Bound
1F. Sprint x 10-20m
1G. Zig Zag Bound
1H. Sprint x 10-20m

SPEED OPTION 2 – Accel focus and use if you are feeling good earlier in the week

1A. Wall Drill 3-5 x 3-4 exchanges
1B.Walking Lunge 3-5 x 4es
1C. Scramble Out 3-5 x 10m
2A. Sled Sprint 3-5 x 10m
2B. 3pt start 3-5 x 10m
3A. Sled Sprint 3 x 20m
3B. Jog to Sprint 3 x 5+20m

SPEED OPTION 3 – Technique & rhythm focus if you are feeling beat up

2x5x60m Rhytm Runs with walk back

If you feel good, every 2-3 weeks you can add some ins and outs or longer faster sprints in one of the sessions e.g. See the max velocity session you were doing in off season. In fact any of those workouts can be subbed in for a block in season but you just have to reduce the volume depending on how you are feeling

I would keep the weights pretty simple 1-2 x week

For example
1 x leg power (olympic or loaded jump)
1 x leg strength (squat/deadlift variation)
1 x upper push/pull superset

Reps would be around 3-5 for power and 3-6 for strength. Occasional higher rep work is fine depending on how your bodyweight is going.

The running/jumping volume + skills may be enough for you later in the week so in the gym you may only pick up a light jump squat (or no legs) + some upper work.

Good luck for the season



thats absolutely grand mate, loads for me to get stuck into there
yeah your definitely right, i wish clubs had more training for focus on skill, with only two club trainings a week, including teams runs and some fitness, there is very little time really for skills

i will try and take a ball for a lot of the speed sessions, and do it with a mate or two and add some game specific dimensions to increase skill levels.

also agree about thefatigue comment, have made the mistake of being heavy legged in game, thinking a ihad all these quality sessions under my belt from the previous week!! over here london wasps seem to have got this to a tee, when it comes to the business end of the season they are all fresher and fitter than rivals, but from people ive spoke to this is often due to specific scaling of workouts.

thanks again mate, its much appreciated, hope all is well your side of the world



Damian Marsh

Damian Marsh has extensive experience with professional athletes having been involved with the ACT Brumbies Rugby Union team since 2000, firstly as athletic performance coach and now as the coordinator of the athletic performance program. During this time he has also been involved with the Australian U/21 rugby program in three world cup campaigns and two years with the Austalia A. Academically he achieved first class honours in his human movement degree and is completing a PhD looking at speed and power constructs in Rugby.

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