Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of rock band Nirvana, played hard and died young. He said: “If practice makes perfect and nobody’s perfect, why practise?”
Actually, the well-worn truism he referred to has been turned into “perfect practice makes perfect” or “performance practice leads to perfect performance”. It can seem that practice is a penance, given that the first thing young players ask when arriving at training is: “Will we be playing a game tonight?”
Captain Richie McCaw of New Zealand holds up the Webb Ellis Cup after winning the Rugby World Cup Final against Australia 2015
And do they really want to be perfect anyway? It was New Zealand’s recent 100% Test year that made me think of perfection. Some are asking if they were best team ever. Whatever the conclusion, the great sides of the past had their flaws and no team has ever played the perfect game.
So, perhaps, perfect is the wrong word. The expression “practice makes perfect” is purely rhetoric. It sounds snappier and more powerful because of the alliteration. How about “practice makes better” or “focused practice with intensity leads to improvements in the ability to perform under pressure”. Not as powerful but more appropriate.
Cobain was anti-establishment and what he said fitted his outlook. But his conclusion was wrong. The reason we practise isn’t just to improve but because we enjoy it – it gives a sense of achievement. We usually practise with team mates, boosting our social esteem.
But Cobain was probably thinking of the coaches who drummed into him that practice was an unpleasant necessity. He dropped out of his baseball team and though a skilled junior wrestler, hated the experience.
That doesn’t mean that all practice is easy and “fun”. It still has to be intense and fast-paced when necessary. Your team should train as they want to play. Your challenge is to set the right targets to aim at – and establish how “practice” will help players achieve them
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... MORE
Has rugby really changed that much in the last five years? Has it become too soft or too dangerous? Has it stopped being a game for real men or started to become a game that parents don’t want their children to play? MORE
The other week I was running some 4v2s. Initially, the attack was always successful. I suppose that is what you would expect but they were not succeeding as I wanted. Sloppy passing and drifting angles meant that although they were scoring, it was not improving their skill levels. It was time to make the defenders work harder. MORE
The other week I was watching another coach set up what I can safely say was a drill: 10 cones evenly spaced in front of two lines of players, no decision-making and off they went. The players ran out with the ball, put it down, ran to another cone, ran back and picked it up. They passed it to a team mate who repeated the exercise. MORE
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 IrishMORE
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