TRAINING grounds and pitches have been empty since the Welsh Rugby Union suspended the season in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players, from professional level down, are in lockdown and are without their usual sporting routine.

Elite squads are guided by full-time strength and conditioning, sport science and medical staff, who send programmes and stay in touch to prepare for a progressive return to rugby.

Below that level the advice, physical and mental, for players drops off but here are six top tips from Chris Jenkins (pictured below), the former head physio at the Dragons who was with Russia at last year’s World Cup in Japan…

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1. Develop or maintain a good routine

Instil good routines now – sleep, diet, training, recovery sessions – and then add rugby into your new routine at later date. It is sometimes hard to install these new routines while playing, so use the chance now to develop them and you will start next season a better player than when you left.

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2. Self-analyse your physical condition for rugby

Perform a self-analysis of your current physical state – as a rugby player what are your strengths?

What are your weaknesses? What opportunities are there for you right now to improve the physical qualities within your body? What is preventing you from taking these steps?

By doing this you may improve your performance and reduce your risk of future injury.

3. Resolve and improve current or old injuries

If you have any ongoing pain and niggles, for example patella or Achilles’ tendon problems or Groin programs, now is the time to work on them.

It is very difficult in season to work on these injury areas as the combined load of matches, training and working life lead to little time and a reliance on medications.

It may still be a significant amount of time before we train and play rugby, and a 6 to 12-week intensive rehabilitation program may lead to a significant improvement in your condition.

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4.Home workouts

For those that are fit and injury-free, ensure your home exercise programs mimic aspects of the game.

The game involves explosive sprinting and change of direction, and this is currently missing from many home exercise programmes due to lack of access to weights/space.

A way to counter this and get power back to prevent the risk of re-injury on return to rugby is to plan drills that are relevant to the game.

Down-ups, hill running, short sprints, jumping, hopping and burpees mimic the high intensity nature of the game.

Get advice if you have never included these in your programme before and add to your home workout - you will feel better for it when pre-season starts and it could reduce your risk of injury.

5. The mental game

At the top level, players individually and in groups have access to many different professionals that bring a new dimension to their recovery and mental aspect of the game.

Access to sports psychologists has led to an improvement in the mental health aspects. There are many options available here: meditation, breathing routines, yoga.

It is all being done at the highest levels of the game. There are lots of good books, YouTube videos and apps to help explore this important aspect of modern game.

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6. Connect and stay in touch with coaches and teammates

This is a challenging time and you are not alone. Join Zoom and enjoy what these meetings with your rugby teammates and community can offer.

Stay positive and busy, follow the World Rugby guidelines on coronavirus, control what you can control and come out ready for your best season yet!