Individualisation of Training within a Team Structure

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Individualisation of Training within a Team Structure

At this point in the NRL season, although the Newcastle Knights finishing the current season successfully is obviously the first priority, the attention of the performance department inevitably turns to planning next year’s pre season goals and exercise prescription.

It was at a meeting to discuss this last week that the importance of understanding exercise prescription and session goals was again brought home. It is an essential part of planning any training program that both short and long term goals, both for the individual and the team, are set and that each phase, session and even exercise are planned and evaluated as to their relevance to reaching these goals. Within this meeting, one of the predominant subjects was the development of individualised strength and power goals to be addressed over the pre season period. It is the aim to set these goals based on each individuals physical fingerprint but to do this we would be prescribing 30-40 different programs at NRL level only, not considering any NYC or Junior Development players.

Obviously, it is impossible to maintain the quality and intensity of training if this is the case so it is imperative to address individual differences within the team structure.

So, how is this done?

At this stage, as a performance department at the Newcastle Knights, we set goals at a variety of levels:

  • TEAM what we need to develop as a team (e.g. size, endurance, speed etc.)
  • PHASE each phase of the season (and pre season in particular) has an overall goal. For instance, the period leading up to Christmas (approx. 5 weeks) is planned to address primary physical factors such as endurance and strength development.
  • INDIVIDUAL within this team structure each individual prescription is tailored to address their own specific needs whilst not compromising the development of team dynamics. This is the level at which the most important exercise prescription occurs and this is also why we test regularly.


To address these various levels, each session is identified as having a general goal and segments of that session are further prescribed to address individual needs. For instance, a speed session may begin with the whole group together working on the basics of posture and technique but may split into the more specific areas of top speed, acceleration or multi directional speed depending upon the individuals involved. Furthermore, within each segment, each exercise will be prescribed with each individual in mind.

Certainly makes periodization, planning and delivery fun and a constant challenge!

Jeremy Hickmans
Jeremy Hickmans is the Performance Director for Wayne Bennet and the Newcastle Knights
Please click here to learn more about Jeremy Hickmans and purchase his Rugby League Training Programs.

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