Drills good, games much better. But you must know why

In the fourth episode of the Rugby Coach Weekly Podcast, Dan talks to experienced Rugby League coach, sports lecturer and coach developer Stuart Wilkinson on how coaching needs direction within a session.

With coaches at all levels trying to work out how to improve skills that ultimately impact on their players’ success in matches, Stuart talks through how drills may be replaced by games, and how he sees that working in a session context.

Stuart brings with him years of coaching at the elite level of Rugby League, having coached internationally. However, he cut his teeth with grassroots rugby first and works with young coaches on their journey too.

He says that:

  • While drills can do a job, if you can turn it into a game, your players will improve faster.
  • You need to give the players the right reasons to train that skill, so they know WHY they are doing it.
  • There is a process to build up skills, but it doesn’t need to be pretty.

He also says that the players need declarative knowledge and procedural knowledge in a session. Declarative knowledge is what to do, procedural knowledge is how to do it.

In games, Stuart is keen that the players see the whole skill in the right context. It’s connected to all the players involved, not just each individual. For example, if a receiver in a 2 v 1 doesn’t “push into the hole”, which is the space created by the passer who has fixed the defender, then what use is a well-executed pass.

Listen as Stuart passionately describes how we can mix up our sessions and create more skilful players.


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