EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Make weaknesses positive

Pointing out a player’s weaknesses can be difficult and possibly counter-productive. Here, we explain how you can work with each player positively, by changing your focus.

ERRORS AND WEAKNESSES

All players are prone to making errors, but consistent weaknesses need to be identified and worked upon to improve efficiency and outcomes. 

You need to separate a mistake which isn’t a fundamental, like dropping a wet ball or missing one out of eight tackles, to a systematic weakness. For example, a player might be losing the ball in contact more often than they should or jumping out of the defensive line.

START THE PROCESS

Don’t hide away from talking through errors. 

If you do not encourage a culture of discussion and honest evaluation, identifying weaknesses can be seen as a personal attack. It can result in players digging their heels in and becoming defensive, especially if done in front of their team mates. 

It is also important to identify and praise good technique and performance so there is a balance between the two and the process of evaluation is not always seen as negative. Players often do not see the mistakes they make or realise their technical shortcomings.

SKILL EVALUATION

You and your players should not look at the right or wrong way to perform practical but how effective the skill is.

This mindset change develops good communication between player and coach and provides an honest evaluation of skills. 

Ways to identify skill inefficient

  • The player’s own feelings and thoughts.
  • Statistical analysis (like tackles made/missed).
  • Video analysis.
  • Peer analysis /review.
  • Other players’/coaches’ feedback.

ADDRESSING PROBLEMS

Video analysis works very well. It helps to establish a dialogue about how the skill can be modified and improved to become more successful and consistent. However, if you don’t have access to that technology, a simple smartphone video can be helpful.

Also, ask the player to help you to help them. Design solutions together. Maybe they can work with another player before or after training. 

Try not to identify and point out every mistake a player or team makes. Instead, look at consistent, recurrent technical or tactically inefficient problems and attempt to improve those.

Finally, instil a culture of improvement. Nothing is perfect, and we constantly strive to change our habits. A weakness is something we haven’t spent as much time
on…yet.

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