Manage your training queues

Having players queuing up to do a training drill isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the “inactive” time is restricted. Here’s how to keep sessions moving so you strike the right balance.

Waiting their turn: England Women players watch team-mate Sarah Hunter at work. Delays allow players to recover

Think about your drills, activities and conditioned games… I bet many of them involve the players standing in queues and waiting their turn to perform a technique or skill. If so, there’s nothing wrong with that as long as queues are managed properly.

Your squad has one or two sessions a week, so you probably have the opportunity to practise for between two and three hours. This time is precious and should be as active as possible, keeping time standing about to a minimum.

Therefore you need to be organised and plan out the activities and drills in an efficient and effective manner.


  1. Set out all the working areas before your session starts.
  2. Use the balls available, so instead of two groups of six waiting in queues, use four balls and have four groups of three. Simple but it’s a common mistake.
  3. Let the activities flow – don’t keep interrupting to say something. If one or two of the group are struggling with their technique, pull them out to address it but let the rest work. By letting the activity or practice evolve and take place without interrupting, the players need to have a queue so they can recover from each run and be ready for the next one.
  4. Move on from one activity to the next quickly.


Rugby is a stop-start game and this is where having a queue can have benefits and make activities more game-like with short recovery spells. Think about the ratio you want the players to work at and manage these so there are different lengths of rest:

1:1 means the player works for 8 seconds and rests for 8 seconds, or makes one run and then rests for one run.

1:3 means the player works for 8 seconds and rests for 24 seconds, and so on.

You can manage this with the number of groups you use for an activity or drill. For example, you could put players in four groups of four, two groups at either side of a grid performing a shuttle across the grid passing and handing the ball over to a group opposite. The players work for one and rest for three.


Ask another coach to use a stopwatch in a 90-minute session to see what percentage of that time the players are actually working – pick one player and time his activity.

This will give you quite accurate information on whether you should be letting the players be more active with less talking, shorter queues and less time between activities.

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