EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Combating a lack of aggression

In my Ask Dan post, I answer a question I get asked regularly: “my players are skillful but lack aggression when it comes to games – how can I address this?”.

I offered some games and solutions to the question on creating more “aggressive players”.

Here are some more thoughts:

  • Leave off the “big speeches”. Let them do their own or ignore them altogether. Players become immune to this sort of emotional charges after a time. Very few coaches can do this effectively anyway.
  • Play competitive games in training where there’s more pressure than normal. For example, add in a consequence like: who tidies away the kit or has to clean someone else’s boots. It should be enough of an imposition to make it the players want to avoid it, but not enough to make players refuse to do it.
  • Play “dirty” games – where there are few rules. For example, in a narrow area, one team has to score at the other end. They can’t pass forwards. No tripping or grabbing the head, but also no offside.
  • Review your pre-match warm up routine. Are you doing any tackling just before kick off? Are the players ready mentally and physically for the first contact?
  • What’s your first “5 minutes” focus for the match? It might need to include dominating a situation physically.
  • Play domination games, especially 1v1s.

PS: The coach wrote back to say: “We’ve put some of these suggestions into our training this week and we’re already seeing improvements. We hope to build on these early successes and take the fight to our opponents this season.”

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