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
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.
I started each “GO” by standing next to the defenders. I also kept the same two defenders for at least four goes. This meant I coached the defenders to pressurise the ball carrier and close down his space. After the attackers’ first attempt, the defence knew how to perform better.
Not unsurprisingly, attackers started to drop the ball, run into contact or pass so poorly that the last defender could touch the ball carrier as he received the ball. It was a simple transformation. When I reflected on how to improve my session afterwards, I decided to have another coach with the defence.
“There is nothing better than success when there is a real challenge.”
The coach could condition the defence to modify the pressure on the attackers. In this case it was to up the ante.
However, one has to be careful not to go the other way and let the attack have it too easy. If the skills are good enough, they should succeed. Here you have to make a judgement call. If you think that they might achieve a certain skill level, keep the defence pressure as it is. I would err on the side of more pressure. There is nothing better than success when there is a real challenge.
But some might say that if players think the task is impossible, they become demotivated. Again, here is where you earn your corn as a coach. Encourage them when they are performing the right techniques but perhaps not all together in the same movement (for instance, two good passes and one poor pass). But if there is little sign of good practice, you reduce the pressure.
Your challenge is to create exercises that have enough flexibility to adjust for what the players can do. They may be on form and nail two or three passes, or they might be out of sorts, or lack crucial skills. You can adjust accordingly.
Sometimes, the pressure in the exercise is right first time – but that should not be expected.
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