EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Add some zip!

It’s been a long season and the finishing line is in sight. Now’s the time to energise your coaching to help your team end with a flourish. These four tried-and-tested methods will see you right…

Mark McCall, Saracens coach, relaxes with his club captain, Owen Farrell

GROW WITH THE TEAM

As the season progresses, so should your coaching. No team expects to be the finished article and nor should you. And you’re also part of the team, not a separate entity.

You’ll be drawing on your previous experiences to coach, but the team itself will present unique situations. So your coaching needs to adapt to their needs, not yours.

Experienced coaches sometimes become frustrated with new teams because they forget that the team hasn’t “grown” with them.

So you might be asking players to do things that are new to them but well established to you. Remember to be part of their journey of discovery.

HAVE A FLEXIBLE PLAN

A rigid plan can be as bad as no plan at all. Timings should be flexible, so if something needs more attention or it’s developing well, you can “cut” other parts of the session. There are two ways to incorporate flexibility in a plan:

  1. Have several progressions, some of which explore more complicated aspects of the technique or tactic.
  2. Have a number of alternative areas or uses of the tactic or technique.

For instance, a defence session might start with alignment, aiming to progress to working off second and third phases.

Further progressions could include adding defenders and defending for more phases. An alternative area could be looking at line speed, or getting forwards closer to the rucks and backs wider out.

DEVELOP YOUR OWN IDENTITY

Remember that there’s no template for the “perfect” coaching style. Why not ask trusted colleagues what your strengths are in terms of coaching and as a person?

Tweak your style to suit your strengths. For example, if you’re a “rabble-rouser” then exploit that. Don’t try to be much quieter as you might compromise the quality that makes you a good coach.

Once you understand what you bring to coaching, see how the best deliver. Choose from them things that fit your style – but don’t just copy blindly.

Let’s say you watch a coach who’s a good storyteller. Don’t just remember the story, look at the way he uses his voice and body to express himself. Take one or two aspects to adapt to your style.

SMALL AND SIMPLE IS BEST

The best coaches make coaching look easy. And the best sides do the same.

Look at how you can simplify your sessions to aid clearer delivery and more defined outcomes. One way is to make small changes to simple exercises. Lots of little changes are easier to assimilate than one big change.

For instance, if you were introducing a blitz defence, start with two defenders v one attacker and then feed in elements. Develop until you have the whole team running the defensive system.

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