The “Tower of Power” (TOP) or “One Direction” (OD) (My Favourite) is a term commonly used within rugby coaching to describe the desirable body position to be achieved by players when performing many of the technical aspects associated with the game, and more specifically contact situations. Whilst all contact aspects of the game of rugby inherently represent a risk of injury, the TOP/OD represents a safe and effective body position from which to execute tackles and engaging in rucks, mauls and scrums.
The TOP/OD body position is characterized by bending at the knees and hips, with even weight distribution on the heels and balls of the feet (this manifests itself with the heels being in contact with the ground). The spine is kept ‘flat’, with no bend, and the shoulders are higher than the hips. In order to keep the whole of spine in alignment the chin is off the chest and the player is encouraged to look upwards towards the target area just under their eyebrows, without excessive extension of the neck. The shoulder blades, are drawn back to give a tighter upper back, with the elbows flexed and drawn upwards.
Why is the Tower of Power/ One Direction Position so important?
As mentioned above the key aspect of the TOP is that it promotes complete alignment of the spine, thereby reducing the risk of injury when force is transmitted through it upon contact. The ‘spine in line’ position also maximizes the transmission of force through the spine from the legs to point of contact, which is typically the shoulder. The flexed knee and hip position is a strong position from which to generate maximum force from the muscles of legs. The ‘scaps on’ position places the arms in a strong position to drive forward dynamically to grapple the opposing player, whether contesting the ball or executing a tackle.
With a safety first approach, the TOP/OD position cannot be emphasized enough. All players must devote adequate time and preparation to ensuring that they can adopt the TOP/OD position quickly and effectively.
TOP/OD in a Scrum