Endurance development

It has been proposed that due to the high levels of training and activity that active children get, endurance should not be the primary concern in a child’s training programme (Joyce and Lewindon, 2014). Endurance remains very trainable in adults and children’s underdeveloped cardiovascular and respiratory systems may not allow endurance to be trained optimally. That is not to say that a child cannot improve their endurance with training as research has shown that endurance gains of 5-15% are possible in childhood (Kenny et al, 2015).

While endurance is important in rugby (both long distance endurance and endurance of high intensity work), childhood may not be the best time to train this physical capacity. Research has shown that training focused on motor skill and strength development in children improved running performance indirectly. If rugby training in general is enough to improve endurance measures in children is there a need to focus on it and dedicate specific training time to its development? If the coach decides that their players would benefit from some endurance work then the training should be high intensity and interval based to mimic the demands of rugby and reduce the volume of endurance work placed on the child. The classic endurance training of running long distances would not be suitable for the child rugby player. Running is a demanding training mode with ground impact forces being placed on the developing child, who may not yet have the strength and motor control to deal with these forces. If high volumes of distance running are chosen as the training method for improving endurance then this could increase the risk of injury.