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
Last week, I saw some high-level research into success for undergraduates from college. Go to lectures and you will pass your exams. This is hardly a surprise. Or is it?
Plenty of students don’t go to lectures anymore. I don’t mean sleep in a couple of times or skip the Friday afternoon for a session in the union bar. Now, they can watch a lecture online in the comfort of their student accommodation, able to pause it at any stage to jot down a note they’ve missed.
It would hardly seem worth going to the university at all if that’s the way to pass. You could still have the nights out and other student adventures, and perhaps pop into a couple of online tutorials along the way.
Well, this research suggests it’s better to be there, actually hearing, seeing and breathing in the lecture, live. That human connection seems to create a stronger learning outcome.
I was interested how this might impact on my coaching and therefore those who I coach. My sense is this. We must be experiencing learning in a place where we have to perform. Exams are still sat in a large hall with others around us. As I write this, I’m sitting in the Swansea central library, and there’s buzz of coughs, splutters and all manner of other noises that could cause you to lose your concentration.
The lecture also requires an intense level of concentration. If you wander off, you will miss some vital section of the lecture. Watch it back online, and it’s too easily to find yourself reaching for your phone.
Let’s put that now into a rugby context. How many times do we stop our training to reflect and feedback with the players? In a match, it would be five minutes at half time. Yet, we can find ourselves reducing the intensity to constantly correct (or praise) the players.
Therefore, the closer we can make the sessions to a match the better. That should mean long periods of play where there are only brief stoppages to reflect times when there are the equivalent of set pieces. How long does that stop the game? Let’s say 30 seconds. In that time, what should the players be doing? Well, whatever helps them be more successful in the next phase of training.
There’s a good phrase being used at the moment called “Beat the game”, which I’ve picked up from the likes of Russell Earnshaw working with England U18s. Call it to your players in these brief moments. They must think what to do better and then employ it to try to win.
That’s more intense, it’s more like the game. Players who train at the same pace and mental effort as a game will succeed. Just like the undergraduates who turn up for lectures. (Son, please read this!).