How do rugby players cope with big hits?

Rugby injuries, particularly concussions, have been in the news recently. With rugby players getting bigger, and the number of big tackles also rising over 37{346b26218018f12374d7e8e4b25f62c16660a91f8897bdce9450471bf95729b6} in the last 15 years, knowing how to tackle big hits is more important than ever.

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In 2014, the Telegraph set out to find out what a player experiences when they get involved in a big tackle. In fact, the forces generated when 2 big players collide are similar to those your body experiences in a car crash. Some players are physically capable of absorbing a big hit, and others are genetically predisposed to recover more quickly than others. But training and conditioning can play a big part in being able to cope with a tough tackle.

The importance of training

When 6’ 4” and 17 stones of muscle collides with you, you’ll know about it. That’s what makes training to take a big hit so important. Elite players undergo ‘prehab’ training, to strengthen the body parts that are more prone to injury like necks, ankles, shoulders and knees.

Protect yourself

Every player should use a mouthguard, but elite players don’t use shoulder padding or protective helmets. Instead, they focus on proper tackling technique to protect themselves during a game. The more physically fit and better trained you are, the more protected you’ll be from those giant tackles.

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Be mentally prepared

If you take the time to condition yourself mentally and physically, it can be surprisingly easy to cope with a big hit mid-match. Elite players will often use physical contact in their warm up, so running an appropriate rugby drill, that can be found online at sites like, can also prepare your body for punishment. It makes sense to condition yourself to anticipate hits, because then you can mentally and physically prepare yourself for the impact. Remember, adrenalin will deaden the pain – at least until the next day.

Medical care and recovery

Advances in sports science, especially the science of recovery, mean that the number of injuries in rugby hasn’t increased significantly since the early 2000s. Around 50{346b26218018f12374d7e8e4b25f62c16660a91f8897bdce9450471bf95729b6} of injuries can be avoided through targeted training and focusing on good technique. Rugby is a sport that’s more physically punishing than many others, so make sure you have access to good medical care.

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