Rugby Sevens Tournament Recovery Protocol by the Pros

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The importance of a Rugby Sevens player’s ability to perform consistently has demanded that players and coaches continually seek any advantage or competitive edge that may help improve performance. Optimal recovery from games may provide numerous benefits during repetitive high-level games.

Programmed recovery sessions have been shown to result in the enhanced restoration of physiological and psychological processes, so that a player can play again at the appropriate level. Recovery from games is complex and involves numerous factors, typically dependent on the intensity of the activity performed and may also include other outside stressors that the athlete may be exposed to.

A standard Rugby Sevens match consists of 2 x 7min halves with a one minute half-time break, additionally some finals may be played over 2 x 10min halves. Typically, players are required to play three and sometimes four matches in a day with the time between the completion of one game and the start of the next varying between 90-150 min.

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Below is the Recovery Protocol used by the Australian National Sevens teams during a World Series Tournament:

Post-game recovery protocol:

 

Active Recovery
– (5-10 min at a low intensity)
– Cycle Ergometer

 

 

 

 

Static stretching
– Objective of static stretching is to return recruited muscles to resting length not to gain flexibility
– Recommendation: 10-15 sec holds repeated 2-3 times on major muscle groups recruited during competition
– This may be completed in conjunction with showering and hydrotherapy options.

 

Nutritional strategies
– Hydration and macro nutrients within the first 30min post game.

 

Cold Water Immersion
– Optimal temperature 12-15°C
– Where possible utilise full body immersion
– 5-6 x (1 min cold: 1 min out)
– Complete post-game shower before cold water immersion session
– Ensure that cold water immersion is completed 70 min before the start of the next game

 

Compression
– Wear compression garment immediately post cold water immersion; continue to wear for as long as possible, removing prior to the warm up of next game.
– Following the final game of the day, wear compression garment for the remainder of the day or right through until the following morning.

 

Rugby Sevens Recovery Table
It is possible and also practical to group players according to accumulated game time throughout the tournament. This will allow focused recovery attention on players who spend more time on the field and have a higher level of accumulated fatigue.
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References
1. Vaile, J. Halson, S. Graham, S. Recovery Review – Science v’s Practice. Journal of Australian Strength and Conditioning. Supplement 2 – Current Trends and Practices in Recovery. August 2010 p 6, 17-18.

This article is an excerpt from the Australian Rugby (ARU) Player Development curriculum, authored by Pro coaches David Boyle and John Mitchell.
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