How to improve your skills as a women's rugby player - image shows a row of rugby balls and some cones.

How To Improve Your Skills As A Women’s Rugby Player

It’s important to work on your skills and fitness when you’re playing any sport. In rugby, you need to develop some core knowledge and basic gameplay skills to play the game with confidence and efficiency. This post will provide some ideas for you if you’re wondering how to improve your skills as a women’s rugby player.

If you’re fairly new to the game, the chances are you’ll be feeling a bit overwhelmed. That’s totally normal and to be expected, but don’t worry about it too much. With some consistent practice of the fundamental skills, you’ll see an improvement in no time.

Much of this will be covered in your regular training sessions. However, there are still plenty of ways to build on that outside of training. As with anything else, motivation and dedication will come into play. To really see an improvement, you’ll need to be consistently putting in the effort.

Developing your fitness means putting some time aside to exercise regularly. You’ll also want to think about your lifestyle in general, to see where you can perhaps make healthier choices.

How to improve your skills as a women’s rugby player

To really boost your prowess on the pitch, you’ll need to focus on a few key areas. Physical skills are really important, but the technical know-how of the game is equally vital. You’ll also need to consider your attitude and self-perception. These attributes really matter when playing rugby, especially when the game starts to turn against you.

Developing confidence, resilience and a positive work ethic makes a massive difference to your play style. So too does your ability to be a team player. Rugby is a full-contact team sport. You need to be able to work with your teammates effectively through communication and support play. Knowing when to throw yourself into a tackle or ruck so that another teammate can protect the ball, for example, is crucial.

A lot of this will come with time and training. However, you can improve your skills as a women’s rugby player by focusing on the following areas in your own time.

Physical skills to practice

To improve your skills as a women’s rugby player and enhance overall performance, regular training is crucial. There are some key physical skills that you should focus on to up your game. Also, try to follow a healthy and well-balanced diet and stay hydrated to fuel your body and recover faster.

While it’s true that different positions require different specialist skills, all rugby players need to develop core competencies. You’ll want to work on techniques that develop your speed, strength, endurance, power and agility. To perform at your best, each of these areas deserves equal focus. However, depending on the position you play, some may take slight precedence.

For example, if you play as a forward, you’ll want to prioritise your endurance, overall strength and power. If you’re playing as a back, you’ll still want to develop strength and endurance, but speed and agility are key skills for your play style.

To start improving your overall physical skill level, you should focus on exercises that develop these core aspects. Bodyweight exercises are a good place to start. Additionally, you don’t need any equipment to do them. You should also focus on speed-building and aerobic exercises to boost pace and agility.

Bodyweight exercises to develop physical skills

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Press-ups
  • Planks
  • Mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Bear crawls
  • Jumping squats

Speed and agility exercises

  • Shuttle runs
  • Sprint intervals
  • Jogging or longer-distance running
  • Skipping
  • Plyometrics – box jumps, single leg jumps etc
  • Deadlifts (if you have access to a gym or have weight equipment)

If you can get an agility ladder and some cones, this video demonstrates some great speed, footwork and agility skills to practice at home.

Technical skills to work on

Perhaps the best way to improve your skills as a women’s rugby player is to master the essentials. The game’s basic technical skills are passing, catching, kicking, tackling, rucking, mauling and scrummaging.

You’ll practice most of these at training with your teammates. However, you can also practice passing, catching and kicking skills by yourself. All you need is a ball, some cones and a bit of outdoor space to work with. If you’ve got family at home who will practice passing and catching with you then get them involved too.

It’s really easy to underestimate the importance of practising your passing. Developing accuracy and speed in your rugby pass takes time and practice. I remember using the wall in my back yard to repeatedly practice passing and catching laterally when I first started playing. Whatever you can do to improve those technical basics will pay off in your games in the long run.

Another good idea is to check out training drill videos from professional players and teams. It doesn’t matter whether these are from male or female players; the skills of the game are exactly the same. Put these skills into practice yourself or suggest them during your training sessions.

You can always spend a bit of extra time before or after training on your own with a ball and tackle bag. Here are a couple of my favourite videos for developing the core technical skills you need for rugby.

Building mental resilience

Rugby is a game that demands a huge amount of focus and determination. To improve your skills, it’s vital to build your self-confidence and mental resilience. For many women, especially ones who’ve never played competitive sport before, rugby is a great way to develop teamwork skills.

The game can be challenging mentally as well as physically. Knowing how to support your teammates on the field can really help with this. Getting to know your teammates is so important and will enhance the bond you have on and off the field. Supporting other women in the sport is one of the best parts of being a female rugby player, in my opinion. You’ll meet women from all different walks of life and forge long-lasting friendships through your shared experiences on the pitch.

Developing the mental resilience necessary to react to the pressures of the game definitely comes with time. However, it’s important to work on this yourself outside of training.

Set realistic goals for your rugby fitness and technical progress. You’ll get the hang of it all, but it won’t happen overnight! Improving your skills takes time and effort, but it will happen. Visualise positive outcomes for yourself and don’t beat yourself up over dropping the ball or missing a tackle. It’s how you respond to those mistakes that will help you improve your skills as a women’s rugby player overall. Speak positively to and about yourself. Learn from each session and use that knowledge to build strength and determination to improve.

Other ways to improve your skills as a women’s rugby player

Building a strong relationship with your coach and teammates will definitely help you make progress. For that to happen, you should make sure you attend training regularly and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Take the opportunity to try out different positions. You might find that you’ve got a talent for a certain role in the team. Watching games is also a great way to improve your skills as a women’s rugby player. If you can attend local matches then go and see how other teams play. Failing that, you can watch professional games from the Premier 15s or international games during tournaments such as the Women’s Six Nations and World Cup. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of how different teams move the ball and use strength and speed to their advantage.

Most importantly, just keep working hard at it. There’s always something you can do to improve, so commit to working on your fitness and practising the basics.

If you’ve found this post helpful, please give it a share. You might also enjoy this guide to getting a basic training kit put together, as well as my Women’s Rugby Pinterest board. You’ll find tips and advice for improving your skills there too.

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