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Old 01-16-2010, 11:44 PM   #11
Jay Ashman
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scrum caps do little to protect against concussions... they do protect against cuts and the ears getting destroyed. They are an expensive "peace of mind".
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Old 01-17-2010, 12:04 AM   #12
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steve, you are welcome by the way... if you need any help let me know, like I said I played for 10 years and helped coach for a couple..
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Old 01-17-2010, 07:44 AM   #13
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Yeah, I know, Jay. Expensive ear protection and a false sense of security.
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Old 01-17-2010, 08:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Shafley View Post
Yeah, I know, Jay. Expensive ear protection and a false sense of security.
yep... not to say they are not useful. A lot of people wear them and even with a small sense of security it does wonders for their gameplay. I wore one when I was a 2nd Row for the ears and I found I was actually more aggressive in my tackles wearing it so I kept it on.

being that they are teenage girls you aren't going to see the boneshaking hits you would see at the Men's League level, so teaching them to run into contact effectively may help a bit as well.

You have experience already, so you know what to do. Just condition the hell out of them and by the 75th minute when the other team is gasping for air, your girls are going strong.
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:07 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Shafley View Post
Where I'm coming from via concussions:

Most teen girls have never done anything to train their necks. Contrast this to high school football players and wrestlers, who train them all the time.

From what I can tell from the tapes I have of the injuries, 2 concussions occurred because the girls were tackled or tackling and essentially their heads smacked into the ground. Neck strength isn't going to hurt in this, and might help.
You can absolutely address this. I have children and young girls in my judo club who can't lie on their back and tuck their chins to their chests. Give them some basic instruction and practice in break falling (two minutes a day), and it becomes second nature in a couple months.

I played inside and outside center. The biggest issues with young back is 1) not knowing how to control speed on the pitch, 2) not finishing plays, especially loops or misses, and 3) quitting on a play when somebody is tackled. If you only work on #3 and teach the girls to get set back up, you'll overwhelm a lot of defenses.
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Old 01-19-2010, 11:41 AM   #16
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Good stuff Shaf. You should ask that guy NVR2late for some coaching tips.

I'll add some stuff when I have time.

Concussion

I was concussed 5 times when playing. One was an out cold job, one sent me into a parallel world where I played for 60 minutes and then snapped back and had no idea where I was nor had any recollection of the previous hour (including half time). But all of them came from boots/knees to the head. I've only seen one concussion come from head-ground contact and the guy was piledriven headfirst into the ground (very hard ground at the beginning of the season).

Some thoughts on this:

1. The IRB and other governing bodies are very concerned about rising incidences of concussion (and indeed other injuries) in the game. Oddly the protocol post-concussion seems to have been downscaled.

2. Learning to fall. I'm with Jay on this. I studied judo for a few years but I don't think breakfall training helped much. It's learning to take impact that helps. When I stopped playing 15s regularly and became a 'sevens specialist' (ie once a year!) I saw how unconditioned for contact you become without contact. I know that sounds obvious but I was stunned how sore my shoulders would be from tackling in a handful of 14 minute games. It's difficult to do this in a school hall but you've got to be drilled in contact and not afraid of it. Girls are going to be behind boys on this front because boys take every opportunity to rough each other up in everyday life. I always raise an eyebrow when powercleans are promoted as teaching the trainee to take impact, taking impact teaches that.

3. Tackling skills. I was a pretty competent and aggressive tackler however the big concussions were on occasions when I got my head in the wrong place and got whacked for it - primarily knee or thigh into the side of the head. My fault. Sometimes this is going to happen anyway but drilling this should prevent it 9 times out of 10. Last time I played I did the same thing in the opening 30 seconds of a tournament. Split my eyebrow open at 10am on a Sunday and had 6 stitches immediately. That one could have been avoided, I was just being lazy.

4. Neck strength. I think your ideas are sound. At school we did nothing for neck strength save warm up/mobility moves. Neck rolling and tilting the head backwards went out of favour as bad medicine when I was about 16 but we continued with turns to the side and front (both resisted and unresisted). In the PM article I wrote a few years back I quoted a training book from the 1950s and the author advocates neck bridges. Probably not one for your girls. First time I ever saw someone using a neck harness was an England international prop, I could see the relevance of neck strength for front row scrummaging. Never really thought about training the neck against whiplash style injuries like a boxer until you made your post. A possibility to add resistance would be therabands. You can buy these by the roll.

5. Scrum caps. Modern scrum caps are designed to do a bit more than prevent cauliflower ears. They were mandatory at schoolboy level in New Zealand and Japan (not sure if they still are). I do think they are indicative of a culture of kit porn and kids get their parents to buy whatever they see the pros wear. Remember how everyone had the fingerless gloves for a while? (actually, I found those useful). The argument about inflated confidence is bandied around quite a bit but if they can add some kind of cushioning why not wear them? And of course they will protect the girls from cuts and abrasions.

6. Gum shields. I have to admit I could never wear one, they made me gag. Thankfully I still have a set of my own teeth. Now I can't remember where I read this but I believe one of the major advantages of a shield is the reduction of vibration through the skull from a blow to the head - the jaw is cushioned. This could of course be bollocks but in a country that values pearly white teeth so highly I hope your girls are wearing them.

I bashed that out in a bit of a hurry I'm afraid.
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Old 02-05-2010, 09:37 AM   #17
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Some more rambling from me:

Touch Rugby

Use this as a warm up. Try to ensure the girls have space. I've done this when we've used a quarter of the pitch and had something like 30 guys playing and it was stupid. Split them into smaller groups if necessary.

Main cue - get them to avoid chasing the ball. Imagine 22 kids playing soccer and 20 of them (the goalkeepers are excluded) are just running up and down the field following the ball. This is what you want to avoid. Help them learn to maintain shape in both attack and defence, run and play off one another and let them use the ball to make space.

I love touch but it can be frustrating if it's crowded. Go for 4-5 tackles and then handover to the defending team. Make sure the player with the ball stops pretty much the moment they are tackled and taps and passes quickly. Stealing ground at the tackle is frustrating too. Define the tackle area too. Thighs up to chest is fine and tackles should be two handed.

Touch is very big in Australia and New Zealand. It develops some good skill and game sense.
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Old 02-11-2010, 09:15 PM   #18
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Ran a nice first practice. Had 15 girls out, which is pretty good for 8:30 PM on a Thursday night.

Warm ups
-4 laps around gym
-joint mob/static stretches
-dynamic mob

Ball Handling/Familiarization
-pass and follow
-pop pass through traffic
-pass down line before chaser passes ball
-passes and pop passes/conditioning

Conditioning:
-4 corners BWEs and sprints
-Walk of Death (heh)...lunges and squat thrust + jump combos.
-neck nods

All in about an hour. There are going to be some sore girls tomorrow.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:49 PM   #19
Matthew Spiller
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Hey Steve,

I'm not clear on all the all the exercises you listed, but relevant current areas of focus for your athletes could also include ACL tear prevention and some type of 'barefoot running' simulation or equivalent conditioning (like to prevent ankle sprains).

ACL sprain prevention can be a big buzzword, especially if any of the girls or their mothers knows a girl who went through it and the rehab.

Sounds like you are doing some really great stuff. Wish I had a dedicated, knowledable coach when I was in H.S.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:36 PM   #20
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I've got an ankle series that I need to implement, basically barefoot walking on toes, forwards, backwards, sideways, then some pigeon toe and duck walks both forwards and backwards.

I will have to research some ACL preventative stuff.
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