Four ways to develop your coaching mojo

All coaches should have a spark, a creative inspiration to help bring the best out of their players. Create magic with your team by following these tips and developing your coaching skills.

1. Serious fun wins matches

Know who’s in charge of the “serious” stuff and who’s in charge of the “fun” at training.

You do the serious bit – set the targets, organise the resources, and motivate the players to work through the skills and tactics to improve the team. The players are in charge of the fun. Give them opportunities to laugh.

The best way to do this is have competitions inside training games. Soon they’ll be full of banter. Also, in the effort to win, the players will be prone to pratfalls – leading to more laughter.

You can be serious and still smile. But the more you can control the pace of the session, the easier it is for players to know when to play it serious or not.

2. Sweat the right stuff

The best coaches make it all seem so simple. But don’t kid yourself that rugby is a simple game! Rather, it’s your job to make it simple for the players.

To start with, have some clear objectives for each session. Give the players a strong sense of purpose and then focus on just a few things for that session. As Albert Einstein said: “Make things simple, not simpler.”

If you’re covering tackling, you won’t be able to do everything in one session. In fact, most defence coaches take months to establish their defensive pattern when working with a new team. Build it piece by piece so the players can see progress towards an end goal.

A good tip is to have a theme. For instance, Dale McIntosh, the former Cardiff Blues defence coach, said “make defence personal”. Each player knows he’ll be measured after the game on his personal contribution in defence.

3. Give them a better you

Give them the very best version of what you can offer.

We all know we can fall short of what we want to be. But that doesn’t mean we should stop striving to be better.

If you have this thought in the forefront of your mind as you coach, the players will be seeing the best “you”. You’ll be working on your delivery, the detail the team needs and ways to improve the people in front of you.

You can choose to be inspired by many other coaches, but don’t be something you’re not. Use what they do and adapt it for your style and team.

Use what you know, and what you’re comfortable with. In the end, be the coach you believe in – and coach what you believe in with conviction.

4. Nothing happens by chance

Our mojo – that is, our ability to give the players something more than they could get by themselves – doesn’t happen by chance. The more you can prepare, the more you can be ready to deliver.

Even five minutes of preparation is better than nothing. All of us can find that time on a coaching day.

At the next training session, spend a little extra time on one aspect of your coaching delivery. Not a new drill or play but something that will make your message clearer, more easy to implement and quicker to action.

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