Too many youth coaches are teetering on the edge of the “10,000 hours’ training” trap – and it risks killing our game. We’re in danger of spending too much time “practising” rugby and not enough time playing. MORE
I’ve been watching how coaches and other “people managers” engage their charges. By engage, I mean attract and occupy people’s attention. If someone is engaged, they’re going to respond quickly to instruction.
I started doing it in earnest when watching my brother talk to his three-year-old daughter. Now, as a typical brother, I used to think that anything he did was rubbish, seeing him as the 10-year-old who used to annoy me when I was doing something far more important.
So, in a pathetic sort of a way, I found myself fascinated by how successful he was. Whether he was doing it by accident or not (and because he’s my brother, I’ll say by accident), he held the child’s attention for a good two minutes as he explained why she needed to pick up her toys. He used good eye contact, spoke on her level, wasn’t patronising, gave some positives and reiterated his point by asking her open questions.
A day later I was early for a coaching session. I took the chance to watch some other coaches at work. One of them was engaging his players, another wasn’t.
It was easy to see the difference. For one coach, the session was all about him. He was cracking jokes, joining in the games, talking a lot and shouting at the mistakes.
The other coach was also thoroughly involved but in a far more constructive way: asking questions, standing back from the action, moving around, pulling in the players when he needed to make his points.
I was struck by the language they employed. The engaging coach used simple, clear expressions. He spoke with a smile on his face. And there was space, space for others to say something.
An engaging coach creates the right space for players. A space to be themselves and a space where they feel comfortable to say something. And if it’s wrong, it hardly matters.
Like other disciplines, rugby has a jargon of its own. Unless the meanings are explained they can be meaning-less. That's why I've explained them in plain, simple English and with large, clear illustrations in my manual Rugby Tactics Made Simple. But not only that, you'll learn how to coach the tactics with my tips. If you’re new to coaching or prefer a more simple style this is a great, straightforward introduction to rugby tactics. "It highlights the key fundamentals of all aspects of play & gives coaches a good understanding of terminology and techniques at the highest level" - Richard Whiffin, assistant coach at London Irish MORE
Anxious about coaching rugby to children? Maybe you're already coaching, but sometimes struggling to get your points across at training? Perhaps you sometimes simply run out of preparation time? Possibly you're feeling your sessions are getting dull? Do you want a few new skills to boost your player's skills now? Or to help your players develop the techniques for seasons ahead? Maybe even the core skills for their whole rugby playing career? Here's the answer... MORE