A book review of Ulitmate Crush: Waseda University Rugby, Leadership and Building the Strongest Winning Team in Japan Katsuyuki Kiyomiya translated by Ian Ruxton. The Japanese love slogans. Ultimate Crush, which was coined for the Waseda University rugby team, translates differently according to the dialect used*, but the core meaning of “overwhelming victory” is clear. MORE
How do I stop my team falling apart under pressure
Does your team train like Tarzan and play like Jane? How can you up the intensity in training to replicate more match-like conditions? Try a colour-coded session.
How often does your team fail to perform under the pressure of the actual game despite training so well the week beforehand? It’s all too common, even at the top level. You know you can’t train at high intensity all the time, otherwise your players wouldn’t be able to learn new skills.
This colour-coded session will give you a balance. Grade the session into three colours, so the players understand your expectations.
LEARNING, GETTING THINGS RIGHT, SLOW, USING THE GREY CELLS OF THE BRAIN
In the grey session, probably nearer the start of training, you will be introducing new skills, or revisiting skills that need a boost.
The session is probably in a confined space, with not much distance between the players.
Allow time for feedback and questions.
MISTAKES ALLOWED, TRY THINGS OUT AT PACE
The black part of the session puts those skills under more pressure. The players are allowed to make mistakes.
Give them chances to come up with solutions of their own, as well as nudge them to use some of the skills they have just been practising.
HIGH PRESSURE, NO MISTAKES
The white session is close to game intensity.
It has a no-mistakes culture because a mistake will lead to the team losing ground, possession or, ultimately points. This no-mistakes culture is ideally played in a game environment where a mistake leads to a turnover or concede points OR success keeps you in the game and scores you points.
Mistakes are “punished” on a collective team level or good play is collectively rewarded, not on an individual level. That means the team will question itself, both for what went well and as well as for what they could do differently.
For example, team A concedes two “tries” quickly – what can they do differently? Team B has scored two tries, what did they do well?
Play a warm-up game of touch – 3 seconds to pass the ball after a touch, develop with some players only allowed to pass with one hand (differentiate between better players).
Walkthrough one-handed offloads and offloads out of the tackle – use some form of activity.
Speed up the exercise – and may be returned to the game of 3-second touch – add in grab tackles at shorts level perhaps.
Team A v Team B and Team C off the pitch, playing offloading touch game, or full contact offloading game.
If Team A score, Team B go off the pitch, replaced by Team C. If Team A score again, they get a TEAM POINT.
Play with high intensity and lots of noise.