Archive for the ‘rugby’ Category

Wrap Up | Season 2016-17

Monday, April 17th, 2017

That’s a wrap on another Scotland U18 season. It was pleasing to see how far the boys came with their aerobic fitness improvements from January to March prior to their games in Wales, and it was absolutely fantastic to see them show some real Scottish spirit and overcome a strong Italian side during our campaign. I’m looking forward to hearing how the boys progress into the senior rugby scene and push on from there.



An insight into the competitive season | Part 2

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Though my athletes are in-between the ‘train to compete’ and ‘train to win’ phase of the Long Term Athletic Development Model, they are never to old for FUNdamentals.

The guys are in the depths of their competitive season and can easily become stale, demotivated and stagnant when it comes to their physical preparation sessions. As an S&C coach you’ve got to read between the lines and get a reading on how your athletes are feeling. This can be done in several ways. For example, wellness data collection (forms / subjective feedback) or a battery of morning monitoring tests (assessing neural fatigue, muscle tightness and providing objective feedback on readiness to train). We use both subjective and objective feedback with our athletes, although today the best indicator I had for readiness to train was being a human being! Simply paying attention to the mood of the group and intuitively understanding that we ain’t getting anything productive done today until the shackles of the previous nights fitness drills were shook off.

As I’ve alluded to, this morning the guys seemed somewhat ‘flat’ and I needed them to ‘get after it’ as this is their heavy day and they are at the intensification stage of an in-season wave. We introduced some simple competition today to create an atmosphere and get the guys going for their heavy lifts.

The clip below shows Round 1 of 6, serious hats were on until the final rope race where the victor claimed some brand new kit.

This slotted into the end of our warm up and worked a treat at getting the guys smiling and wanting to train hard!

Athletes want to compete!


Individualisation | Scapular Wall Slide Variation

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

We use ‘Scap Wall Slides’ as a filler exercise between sets on our core lifts or as part of a warm up sequence. The purpose of which is to teach scapular control and activate the muscles of the upper back. Like any exercise, if ‘Scap Wall Slides’ are done incorrectly they are useless and simply reinforce bad posture and poor movement mechanics. That said, when performed correctly they are a useful prehab/activation exercise.

It’s not uncommon to see athletes compensate during movements and it’s important to establish the best variation of a drill for the individual, keeping the objective of the exercise in mind. A good trainer isn’t going to let an athlete set up for a deadlift like Quasimodo; a good trainer would stop their athlete and coach him/her into the right position and vary the drill if necessary to achieve the optimal position (raise the barbell for a period of time while working on mobility to eventually hit the desired set-up position). This level of coaching detail must be done on every exercise, including activation/ prehab based exercises if necessary.

In this video we have feet and hips away from the wall, with the upper back in contact, which is contrast to our standard wall slides where heels, hips, lumbar to cervical spine are all in contact with the wall while the elbows and wrists remain in contact and slide up and down (Y shape to W shape).

This variation is specific to the individual and we’ve coached him to inwardly rotate at the bottom to push away from the wall to allow for scapular retraction and activation of upper back muscles. Though he achieves the goal for this movement (scapular retraction, minimal lumbar movement when reaching upwards) he needs coached (and foot position modified slightly) to allow contact of wrist/ elbow against the wall while reaching overhead. He simply struggles with external rotation of the shoulder and super-tight lats at the moment, so we have a list of exercises that have been incorporated to enhance his mobility and strength in the shoulder area.

It’s important to be as progressive with mobility exercises as you would be with any core lifts. With this exercise we will gradually have the athlete walk his feet back towards the wall (as his external rotation ROM improves) and have his back flat against the wall.
Of course, there are other movements we’re using to ‘open up’ this athlete; however, this provides an example of choosing the right variation of a drill to reinforce good movement mechanics without subtracting from core lifts and the pursuit of strength.


An insight into the competitive-season | Part 1

Friday, September 16th, 2016

The competitive season can be a tricky time to get physical adaptations in players. Yet with 19-21 year old athletes on the edge of professionalism, it’s essential they’re physically better at the end of the year than where they started during the summer. Skills sessions, game strategies and weekly collisions are only a few of the challenges the S&C coach must overcome. The video below captures one of our ‘Friday Exercises’ (the jump squat), we rotate intensity on the jump squat over three weeks between 40/45/50% throughout the ‘competitive season 1′ block.

In-season we typically rely on daily undulating periodisation to get the stimulus we need at the most appropriate time of the week; without negating a players ability to perform in training or game day. Exercise selection reflects this; however, there are exceptions. For example, Fridays are our speed-strength day, yet we load up the chin-up movement on this day as we’ve observed it’s one move we can overload the day before a game without negatively impacting performance.

Monday | Strength – Speed
Wednesday | Strength
Friday | Speed – Strength

Hopefully this gives a small insight into how I approach the competitive season of a tough sport, with the view to making my athletes better.

Strength & Conditioning for Rugby

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Today was another day of seminars, only this time through my day job. It was fantastic to pull all the S&C coaches in my region together and have a ‘meeting of the minds’ to share best practice and ultimately better support our athletes. Good S&C coaches make good rugby athletes, and while I’m eager to discover how Scotland perform in the up and coming six nations, I am already excited with anticipation of the next generation of players to come through the system and put their stamp on the blue jersey.

Sometimes I wish my athletes moved as well as my coaches! There was great enthusiasm coupled with some admittedly agile and impressive movement in our ‘Judo for Rugby’ workshop today.




Aberdeenshire RFC Team Building Preseason

Friday, August 14th, 2015

I had an absolute blast at the start of the month as I was tasked with providing the conditioning element of the ‘shire team building day. Preseason is always a busy and fun time for a strength & conditioning coach, and one of the best parts of my job is providing on-field conditioning. While each conditioning session has a purpose and scientific underpinning in the work: rest ratios we select, I have to admit: the team building day was much more about creating camaraderie through overcoming adversity. And creating that adversity was my task :) . As expected all the boys showed relentless tenaciousness and conquered every single challenge I set them making for a fantastic day and hopefully a fantastic season ahead. I’m extremely proud of all the boys for their effort and what they were able to accomplish that day. #shirestrong


Testimonial | Positive Feedback | Kev Wyness, Rugby Coach

Friday, August 7th, 2015

Whether you’re an athlete or a coach, it’s always nice to receive positive feedback. Especially from a high level skills coach who has been on the scene for decades.

“Fraser Murray has been working with Aberdeenshire RFC since May 2014 providing lead S&C for the club. He is directly responsible for programming both the weights and on-field conditioning and has worked with the rugby coaching staff to ensure the players workloads are monitored when in-season.

Fraser also works closely with our physiotherapists on player rehab and welfare. The coaching staff receive daily updates on player performance and our players are extremely responsive to Fraser and his methods. He is a valuable member of the coaching staff for both Caledonia u20 and Aberdeenshire RFC and has now worked with individuals who last season made both district age grade rugby squads and international age grade squads (u18, u19 and u20 Scotland). Aberdeenshire RFC are ambitious and are using player development as the foundations and I would say that with Fraser’s work with the players we are achieving our goals for both individual and club.

On a personal note Fraser is one of the best S&C coaches I have ever worked with and is always looking for ways to improve his athletes as well as having an open mind to our suggestions for individuals.”

Kev Wyness
Coach, Aberdeenshire RFC and SRU BT Academy (Caledonia) U20

Training Montage

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Some recent training footage of myself and some FMT athletes.

Never Give Up

Friday, May 29th, 2015

In the next couple of weeks I will be posting an article that’s specific to me and how I’ve overcome injuries that have thrown a real ‘spanner in the works’ for my athletic development; however, there is always something that can be done. I’m very proud to have conveyed that through my coaching and have injured athletes turn up to my sessions to find out what they can do! Below is a video of Aberdeenshire RFC hooker achieving his eight week target of a 150kg floor press. When he arrived at his S&C session with a cast on I had two questions for him:

1. How long is the cast on for? (Eight weeks.)
2. How much can you floor press? (At that time it was 130kg 1RM.)

From there we formulated a plan and set a specific target – 150RM floor press in eight weeks.

I was really proud of this athlete’s success as it shows that with the right attitude you can come back stronger. Never train through an injury – if the joint hurts then something is wrong. With that said, train and overload what isn’t injured while you rehab the problem area.

S&C for Rugby: a snap shot

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

 In rugby there are many different elements of physical fitness that need to be developed, and (depending on player training age) a conjugate style of training can be used effectively within season to ensure progress is achieved. The video below is a good example of a conjugate style of training.

Enjoy :-)