Maximal speed

While acceleration ability is probably the most important phase of speed to focus on in rugby, there are times during match play when the ability to attain maximum speed will be required (Rumpf et al, 2016). True maximum speed is the highest speed possible and is typically reached after 30 metres for team sport players (Kale et al, 2009). While this may be more relevant to outside backs (Deutsch et al, 2006), it may be important for all players to complete maximum speed training. For example, player A has a higher maximal speed than player B. At submaximal running speeds player B will be closer to his maximal speed compared to player A. This means that player A will be using less effort at submaximal levels because they have a higher maximal speed and thus is more efficient at submaximal speeds. It is also important to complete maximal speed training from an injury prevention point of view. During maximal speed running the speed of limb rotation and muscle contractions are extremely high and this place a large stress on the body (Jeffs, 2014). Coaches need to train maximal speed for the players to be able to get used to the specific demands placed on the body and try to reduce injury risk.

When the player is in maximal velocity phase of sprinting, the trunk will be more upright and both stride rate and length will contribute to the speed (Bompa and Haff, 2009). The speed of the player will be determined by how much force the player can put into the ground in the very minimal foot ground contact time of maximal sprinting (Bompa and Haff, 2009). The foot should contact the ground directly beneath or just in front of the players centre of mass. If the player over-strides and the foot is way in front of the player, then a much larger braking force will be applied to the player and they will not reach as high a speed as possible. Triple extension of the hip, knee, and ankle propel the player forward and then these joints flex to bring the knee out in front of the player to prepare for the next ground contact. The heel should be close to the glutes as the leg is recovered for the next ground strike as shown in the picture below to allow rapid repositioning of the leg for the next ground contact with the foot (Bompa and Haff, 2009)