Preparing for the National All Star Competition

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Seven weeks from now, women rugby players from across the nation will attend the National All Star Competition (NASC) to compete for positions with the High School All Americans, Collegiate All Americans and the Women’s National Rugby Team (in both 15’s and 7’s rugby). This event is the most effective way for an athlete to be selected for one of the national teams. Over a ten-day camp, we are split into several teams who we practice and compete with against the other teams at camp. These games are fast-paced and hard-hitting and our schedule mimics what we expect to see on tour and at the World Cup. The NASC is both a selection tool and preparation for the challenge that the selected players will face as they play for the national teams.

Being prepared for these camps, mentally and physically, is a challenging skill that all rugby players learn to develop. Nights studying film, team tactics and individual technique are nearly as important as making gains our strength and conditioning training. The mental game is the canyon between elite and amateur athletes, and the NASC events expose what side a player is on. Honing these skills alone is a an overwhelming endeavor, and at times, a disservice to yourself. This is why I’ve chosen to attend the American Rugby Pro Training Center.

Five days from now, I’ll be flying to Little Rock, Arkansas, where I will attend the ARPTC until Christmas. The ARPTC was created by Julie McCoy, the most recent head coach to the Women’s Sevens Eagles, the team bound for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Generally speaking, timing is everything– and this is an example of perfect timing. Coach McCoy started the training center a little over a year ago, initially focusing on developing women Sevens athletes. They’ve since added several incredible coaching and support staff and have welcomed 15’s players as well, specifically to help them prep for the NASC.

They’ve developed a schedule balanced with skills sessions, strength and conditioning training, team development sessions, as well as individual athlete support in technique and mental training. All of the athletes live in a house together, creating a full-time rugby atmosphere. Yet, they are conscious that rugby players maintain jobs and have embedded down time to work and relax.

I’ll be updating my progress throughout my time at the ARPTC, stay tuned for more to come!

Until next time,

Baylee Annis

Rugby Ambassador

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