EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

8 ways to make a drill fly

A good “drill” will challenge and motivate players whilst serving as a stepping-stone towards their all-round game accomplishment. Embrace these principles to fine-tune your sessions… 

1 MAKE IT YOUR CREATION

A drill that works for you will be one you’ve made your own. It will suit the ability of both you and your players.

So if you’re going to use an exercise, rewrite or redraw it on paper. This will lead to subtle adjustments that suit what works for you normally.

2 PAINT THE PICTURE

The word “drill” evokes an army parade ground, not a game of rugby. You need to bring your “drill” alive by helping players to imagine the scenarios they’re working on. Either put it into context yourself or challenge players to see where the drill will fit into the game.

3 DON’T MICRO COACH

It’s easy to “advise” all the time during the drill. Better to make your words of advice succinct and essential.

Observe the session and let the players wait for help. If you want the drill to be noisy, let the players create the noise.

4 LOOK FOR DETAIL

Drills, unlike games, are designed to highlight and emphasise the exact detail of a technique. Have this in mind when you’re observing and comment on the detail and not the whole.

If a pass is too loopy, then check the hands, elbows, weight, footwork and follow-through. Pick out the detail and coach the player.

5 PLAYER FEEDBACK

Ask the players to give feedback on how they’re feeling during the drill. It should be an honest environment, where a player is comfortable to speak up if it’s not working for them.

A simple thumbs up or down can be enough to help you understand what’s happening so you can comment or adjust.

6 ACCURACY BEFORE SPEED

A balance must be struck between accuracy – which is where the player or ball is in the right place at the right time – and the way that accuracy was achieved.

Good technique will lead to accuracy, but an unusual technique can have the same effect. Don’t force a player to change if it works for them, just make them aware of the differences.

But don’t compromise accuracy for speed in drills. If accuracy falls significantly as things get faster, slow it all down again.

7 INTENSITY MEANS PRESSURE

Intensity is measured by the size of the load, not the speed. To lift intensity in a drill and so make it more like the game, have the player take on more in the same amount of time. This could be decisions, passes, contacts, tackles or even weight.

Of course, you can also increase the pace of the drill, but this is only part of the whole process of upping the pressure.

8 DEVELOP, NOT CHANGE

See drills as a way of developing the way your team plays, not changing. You should build on their current strengths and correct their weaknesses.

Each drill is a step in the direction you want to take – over time they will lead to major change. From a motivational point of view, it’s easier to sell a “development” than a “change” to a team.


TRAITS OF A GOOD DRILL

  • Specific to the needs of the team
  • Properly planned, with the right
  • equipment in place
  • Builds pressure and develops
  • Game-related – a means to an end
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