Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Centring Technique for Powerful Scrummaging in Rugby

The practice of ‘centring’ originates from mind-body traditions from the East and refers to the body’s ‘centre of gravity’ from where all movement and energy flow. This concept has particularly been adopted by the martial arts but its application can be equally beneficial in rugby and many other sports. If you watch the great rugby players, one thing they all have is balance, stability, fluidity and effortless power. This is due to their ability to centre themselves.

Centring involves putting your focus on the centre of your body. This is quite a strange concept for many rugby players to take on as they are more likely to put their attention on the extremities of their bodies, their fellow scrum members, the ball, the opposition or even their thoughts when they are performing.

There is a saying that “where our attention goes our energy flows”. What this suggests is that our centre of gravity actually changes according to where our minds are focused. When we are anxious, nervous and have a strong inner voice chatting away, our focus tends to go to our heads, and, in turn, it seems that our centre of gravity moves up towards our heads. If you were to imagine playing rugby with a heavy crash helmet on you would get an idea of how this affects your balance.

By putting our awareness on the centre of our bodies, it aligns the centre of gravity to where it should be. This not only gives us balance but also increases our power as it concentrates our mind on the area where we have our larger, more powerful muscle groups. This is extremely important for scrummaging, as, by focusing on this area, we are taking the power from the core of our bodies.

The technique that I have used in my work with a lot of forwards when they are scrummaging is to have them focus on the centre of their body and to imagine a ball, about the size of a golf ball, situated approximately an inch below their navel in the centre of their torso. I then get them to give the ball a colour which represents power to them and to imagine the ball spinning inside them. I then ask them to imagine two beams of light, the same colour as the ball, emanating from the ball up through their backs through their shoulders and out far off into the distance like a pair of powerful laser beams. At the same time, I ask them to imagine two more beams emanating from the ball down through their legs and feet and projecting hundreds of metres into the ground. If they wish, they can also imagine the beam giving off a powerful sound (a big favourite is the sound of the light sabres in Star Wars). Finally, they imagine the ball spinning faster and faster, intensifying the light and increasing the volume of the sound (Because our minds respond extremely well to symbols, the focus on colours, sounds and balls spinning in conjunction with focusing on our centre further increases the feeling of power). When the ball reaches top speed, they are ready to scrummage.

Andy Barton
Wider Vision Ltd - Specialists in Mental Performance Training for Sport

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