EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

How you can increase intensity in training

Leicester Tigers junior academy coach Tom Brocklebank thinks intensity in a training situation is best considered as brightness. How can you help your players shine more brightly in what they do?

WHY TRAIN INTENSELY?

Training intensely reduces boredom, equating to less wasted talking time and means more time playing rugby. More rugby equals more time on the ball, which leads to increased skill development and, most importantly, they’ll enjoy training more.

It might lead to your team playing more intensely. They are more likely to replicate those behaviours on the playing field if they have practised it in training. 

Being first to the line out or scrum can unsettle the opposition. Setting defensive and attacking lines earlier will help your players look up more quickly and see what the opposition is doing, allowing them to attack or defend better.

PREPARE TO BE INTENSE

Before we try to change the intensity, do you think it’s suitable for your team? Will they enjoy it or benefit from it? 

Put the benefits to the team and explain your reasoning. Then see what the players think. Then ask them if they want it.

If they are ready to train more intensely, you need to agree on what this will look like. You could draft a quick agreement on what they can expect from you and what you and the players can expect from each other.

BEFORE TRAINING

Plan your session with shorter activities. Aim to have activities of between 10-15 minutes; any longer, you risk the players getting bored or tired.

They don’t need to be different activities; they can be progressions. For example, instead of doing a passing session for 30 minutes and introducing all your coaching points at the start (which would take a while), split this into three 10-minute activities, introduce your coaching points as progressions at the beginning of each 10-minute block and have a short 30-second drinks break/brain break.

Or you could plan your activities as a carousel. Pick three things you want your players to work on and create an activity for each. Split your players into three groups. Each group does one exercise for 10 minutes, then rotates to the next one.

DURING TRAINING

Set time limits, both for players and coaches. For example, 30 seconds for a drinks break or 45 seconds for a coach’s verbal intervention.

Make sure you time this until you get used to it, or ask your co-coaches to time your interventions.

TRAINING IDEAS

Include more racing elements in your activities.

This could be explicit races like the Race to the try line’ game.

Or add elements to your current activities. For example, during games, if there’s a scrum, lineout or ruck, add a rule where the first team there wins the ball, or how I include races in the ‘Colours’ game.

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