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How I kick queues into touch
If we want to maximise learning and engagement for players, we need to kick queues to touch and offer them a practice environment that will capture their imagination and help them improve as rugby players. But how do you coach without queues?
Games are a great way to engage all players in a fun way. Kids (and adults) have an innate love of play, so let’s ‘play’ to that. Games are also a great way to replicate the context of a match.
The more time we spend practising in context, the greater the transfer of learning into matches, which is what we all want no doubt? Games are a great learning tool, although it can be a challenge to design games that work. Consider this process around the game of Link Touch.
Be clear on the purpose. Link touch is where attacking players see and attack space in the defensive line.
Consider pitch spaces, rule, constraints to achieve the purpose.
Space: 30m x 20m
Rules: Keep it simple – one or two rules to get it started.
When a defender touches the ball-carrier, they must link arms with the nearest defender. They are now joined as a pair and must defend as a linked pair. This will create more space for the attacking team. Turn over ball once a try is scored or if attacking team makes a mistake (such as a knock-on or forward pass).
Just get them playing. There will be mistakes while they work the game out. Be patient, they will get there if your game is simple enough.
Questions to link back to the purpose. For example: ‘How can we make more line breaks?’
Adaption of Design
Adapt the design to make it harder if they are having a lot of success, or easier if they are struggling to execute.
SMALL GROUP ACTIVITIES
If you are going to use activities / drills (5 press-ups for saying drills), then group your players according to the number of players required to perform the skill.
For example: 2 v 1 attacking skills requires a ball carrier, support player and defender, so groups of three.
2 v 1
Attackers to utilise and execute 2 v 1 opportunities.
Space: 5m x 5m square
Rules: Two attackers play against one defender and attempt to score a try. If they score, they stay on attack. If the defender can stop them from scoring, the defender swaps with an attacking player.
Aim to make it continuous. For example, as soon as the defender touches their line, they can defend (so attempting to catch the attackers off-guard).
Players work in 3s with multiple 5mx5m squares set up.
The coach can then provide feedback through questions or demonstrations. Consider adapting the space to suit the players’ needs.
KICK THOSE QUEUES
Remember, standing in queues takes away the opportunity to maximise player learning in the limited practice time you have. By kicking queues into touch, all players will have multiple opportunities to practise (and improve), so instead of one turn every four minutes, they may get four turns in one minute. I’m sure your players will thank you for it and you’ll see the results transpire on match day.
If you want more on this topic, visit my website and check out the Game-Based Rugby Coaching programme. This programme has dozens of games with videos and further explanations. When you subscribe you get access for 12 months, can view video examples, helpful explanations, weekly tips and access to online workshops.