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Jersey Shore Rugby with Dr. J.: In rugby, as any other sport, the right kind of practice makes perfect

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By DR. J. ZIMMERMAN
All sports require practice. The only way to get better at a skill and improve one’s game is practice. It doesn’t matter whether it is golf, bowling, rugby or tiddlywinks. Practice improves the ability to play at a higher level.
There are two old adages that apply to practice. One is that practice makes perfect. Practice is the repetition of an action with the goal of improvement. Practice also improves ease, speed and confidence.
Scientifically, from an anatomical perspective, practice increases the neural pathways that communicate from the brain to the muscle tissue. The larger the neural pathways, the easier the communication process from the brain to the muscles in the body becomes.
As, a chiropractor, we work with neural pathways on a daily basis. So, it is very exciting to see that practice repetition not only improves skill, but the resulting increase in neural connections can improve speed and accuracy of the skill.
It takes much more than repetition to improve at practice. According to recent T.E.D talks, the quality of practice depends on consistency, the intensity of the player’s ability to focus, and targeting areas that lie just below the players current abilities.
To get the most out of a practice session, players must focus and pay attention to the skill drill. Social conversations while practicing are a no-no. Drills should start out slowly and then gradually progress in speed.
Top professional athletes typically spend 50 hours per week working on skills and areas related to their sport (fitness, strength, agility, flexibility). In addition, studying film of skills and actual game footage is an invaluable part of practice.
The brain is very powerful tool. Watching a game and imagining yourself in that position, performing skills as you see top athletes perform them, can actually help you at practice and on game day. See and do. If you see it enough, you will do it enough.
I said at the beginning of the article that there were two adages that apply to practice. The second is that practice makes practice perfect.
That’s why at our rugby practice sessions we constantly use live skills games and contests as part of practice. Skill drills are important, but we have to add the element of chaos into practice. It is very important to play games with outcomes that are not pre-decided.
Practice can’t account for variables that occur during a match, so it is important that we create opportunities that do not occur in a structured drill. Thus, the live contests.
Rugby practice is regimented and structured, but at the same time it is creative, fun and competitive. The Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby Club has started preseason training. It’s not too late to join the squad. Our high school club and men’s team always accepts new recruits. We will be holding an NFL-style combine March 4 at 10 a.m. at Veteran’s Park in Galloway. New players are welcome to give it a try.
Co-ed youth tag rugby will start on March 31. Contact me for more information. Also on March 4, the Jersey Shore Rugby Club will be holding a beef and beer/Chinese auction at Diorio’s Café in Somers Point from 7 to 10 p.m. Cost $25.00 per person. Food, beer and wine included. All donations are tax-deductible.
Dr. J. Zimmerman is the president of the Jersey Shore Rugby Club Board of Directors. He is the men’s club head coach and director of youth rugby. Dr. J. is also the team chiropractor. For more information on Jersey Shore Sharks Rugby, including our high school rugby team, or if you are interested in playing, visit www.JerseyShoreRugby.com or on Facebook at Jersey Shore Rugby Club, or call 609-652-6363 or email jerseyshoresharks@gmail.com.

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