One of the most important lessons I learned playing rugby turns out to be a valuable life lesson across the board: accelerate into the hit!

When I first started playing rugby, about 5 years ago, I was a lot bigger (read: fatter) than I am now. In fact, I was almost 300lbs (135kg) at 6'1 (186cm) tall. But despite being so very big, I got absolutely nailed in a tackle by somebody at least 100lbs lighter than me, when I ran into contact the very first time.

It happened at my very first practice game in training. I got passed the ball and got told to run straight into contact when this relatively small defender managed to lift tackle me and dump me straight on my ass.

Me, running into a tackle

So how did I get absolutely demolished in that tackle despite being so much bigger? You'd think that I would have had enough momentum to steamroll right over that defender, right?

The reason that I didn't is that I hadn't learned the first rule of running into contact: accelerate into the hit.

And I'm about to teach you that same rule.

You see, as normal, civilized people we are always trying to avoid collisions. We don't go around bumping into each other on the street, for example. Whenever someone is on a collision course with you, your subconscious, natural instinct would be to adjust your speed and course to avoid impact.

And that's exactly what I did at the rugby pitch. My brain registered the impending collision with the defender and subconsciously slowed me down to lessen the impact; inadvertently handing this small defender a glorious tackling opportunity.

Trying to avoid impact is a natural part of the self-preservation instinct.

And I'm the first to defend this behavior, because avoiding win-lose confrontations and trying to create win-win situations instead is generally a good thing. In fact, it's the whole reason we've been able to progress so much as human beings.

That being said, there are times when you cannot avoid impact.

And rugby is one of those times.

And whenever you're confronted with a situation where direct contact cannot be avoided, there is only one thing left to do: you need to make sure you win. And the best way to do that is to make sure you have as much momentum as possible, by accelerating into that hit!

Right before I scored my first try

Whenever you're on the rugby pitch, you need to switch off your natural instinct to avoid collisions. Instead, you need to make sure you bring as much power to the impact as you can possibly bring, so as to make sure you have the best chance of coming out on top (literally). You accelerate all the way up to the point of impact.

This lesson can also be applied to other situations in life where confrontation can or should not be avoided. Of course, physical confrontation is extremely rare in real life, but verbal confrontation is not.

Confrontation can have many different forms, for example:

  • Confronting somebody about their behavior
  • Admitting and apologizing for a mistake
  • Telling people about your lifestyle/diet choices you know they'll disapprove of
  • Asking for a raise
  • Talking about (not) having kids
  • Asking a friend or relative to invest in your company

What all these situations have in common is that they all have the potential of turning negative (or at least awkward).

It's likely that such situations make you nervous, because confrontation is scary. And just like with physical impact, you may feel the need to go out of your way to avoid colliding or to lessen the impact as much as possible.

But this is where the life lesson of rugby comes into play: don't slow down, but accelerate into the hit instead!  

Accelerating into the hit means accepting that confrontation cannot be avoided, and deciding to take it head on.

Accelerating into the hit means being forthright: saying what you're going to say confidently and not backing down. No sugarcoating, no placating, just going straight for the hit and standing your ground.

Say your piece, and then shut up.

By accelerating into the hit you make sure that impact will happen on your terms; when and how you want it.

It works wonders, both on and off the pitch, so give it a try.

Taking charge of the confrontation like this will not only make you look and feel more confident, but it will also make sure you're not on the defensive when the impact actually happens, making it less likely that you'll get dumped on your ass.

Speed up!