Terry Tan, chairman of the STWA, dispels the myth that a big upper-body and bulging biceps are required for the sport: “What really counts is leg-strength and power, a strong core, as well as endurance. A big upper-body is not required because we use our legs – not our hands – to move the rope. We only use our hands to support the rope.”
Fitness forms the basis on which teamwork and mental endurance can be built upon. To cope with the tremendous stress that competitive pulling places on his body, especially his thighs and calf muscles, a tugger requires leg-strength, a strong core, as well as endurance. Explains Tan, “To ensure that our tuggers do not suffer during a competitive pull, we have adopted a tough but comprehensive training regime. Suffering should take place only during training.” He shares the gruelling routine the national tuggers undergo – twice a week during off-season periods, and five times a week nearer to competitions – to keep themselves in tip-top shape.
– Squats – 5 sets of 20 reps
– Jumping squats – 5 sets of 20 reps
– Ranger jumps (do jumping one-legged squats. One of your legs should extend out when you land) – 5 sets of 20 reps per leg
– Back paddling (running backwards) – 3 to 4 rounds around track
– Calf raise – 5 sets of 20 reps
– Staircase hop – 3 sets, up three levels per set
– Back extension – 3 sets of 20 reps
– Plank – 3 sets of 1min
After fitness training, proceed to the rope-work training circuit. Rope-work improves the tuggers’ rope-handling ability. Perform one rep of the rope-holding exercise followed by one rep of the rope-bursting exercise, with no rest in between. That’s one set. Follow the exercise duration stipulated in the table. Perform 12 sets in all, with minimal rest between each set.
This exercise, which is similar to towel pull-ups, trains your ability to hold the rope in a correct stance. Hold two short ropes (attached to a ceiling beam) – one in each hand. Fully extend your arms and your body. Do not allow your legs to touch the floor. Remain in this position. This is one rep.
After each rope-holding rep, perform one rope-bursting rep. Bursting refers to the change of position from standing to sitting (chair position, with your legs extended 45 degrees out), while using your legs to push backwards in a forceful manner.
You’ll need a buddy for this exercise. With your backs against each other, move to a chair position, with your legs extended 45 degrees out, and push against each other for resistance. Remain in this position. This is one rep.
|Set||Rope-Holding Exercise (in seconds)||Rope-Bursting Exercise (in seconds)|
Apart from fitness and rope-handling ability, training also hones the tuggers’ teamwork: Their ability to coordinate and synchronise their movements is key to the team’s ability to move offensively – and not be caught in a defending position. And to effectively support each other during a pull, tuggers must know their team-mates’ strengths and weaknesses.
Tuggers are also expected to possess mental endurance. Says Tan: “It’s physically very tough to be handling the rope during competitive pulling. A tugger will need to draw on his mental strength to hold the rope in the correct stance for at least one minute. This is because the weaker team normally gives up after a minute.”
To learn more about tug-of-war, join any of the STWA’s tug-of-war clinics at the Singapore Flyer on November 19 (Sat), between 3.00 to 8.00pm. Open only to Singapore Flyer ticket holders ($29.50 per adult ticket, available at the ticketing counter).
Get details about both events here.