Acceleration is the rate of change of speed e.g. how much a player can increase speed in a period of time. Acceleration occurs when a player is starting from a standing position or from walking or jogging and moves at an ever-increasing pace or speed. For most team sports acceleration is the most important phase of speed development to focus on (Brown and Ferrigno, 2005).

Maximum speed is typically not reached until after 30 metres (Kale et al, 2009). Analysis of the game demands indicate that most sprint actions in rugby union are typically less than 30 metres with Suarez-Arrones et al, (2014) reporting that the average sprint distance for forwards was 14.7 metres and for backs was 19.5 metres. This shows the importance of developing acceleration capability.

During acceleration, the body should have a forward lean and the player should aim to drive the legs down and back. A good cue for acceleration training is to tell the player the push the ground away and behind them with their feet. The arm action during acceleration occurs with the arm flexed to about 90 degrees. The opposite arm to the leg about to hit the ground should move up and forward from the hip to the shoulder to counterbalance the leg action and avoid unwanted movement (Bompa and Haff, 2009).