Rugby coaching tips to establish good habits for the new season


There is only limited time for training and this is precious for coaches. It is very frustrating having to restart your rugby drill because players are rolling in late.

The start is the best time to get across messages when players are focused. At the end of the session, they will be thinking about their next movements and are distracted.

Poor timekeeping should be rooted out at the very start of the season and late players should be admonished for what, effectively, is not only rude but also very disruptive.

Law keeping

In practice, train like you are going to play on the pitch. Be tough on the usual areas such as forward passes, but even more importantly, get the players absolutely clear on the laws that affect them the most.

For instance, do your kick chasers know what they are allowed to do when an opposition player drops on the ball on the floor?

At the very start of the season, revision of ruck, tackle and maul laws are well worth embedding into the players’ minds.

Eating and drinking

Set out what constitutes a good pre-match eating and drinking programme. It is amazing how few players know how much water to drink or when to eat on the night before a game.

A balanced diet is difficult enough for the professionals, but it does no harm to remind players of how healthy eating enhances  their rugby and other areas of their lives.

Training should be punctuated with water refuelling to establish good hydration habits.


This is more difficult to enforce, but it is worth trying to encourage clean boots and a pride in appearance – a smart player plays smart. It works on a very basic level – when sides face a well turned-out team, it looks more threatening.


This breaks down into two areas, swearing and encouragement. Swearing, without moralising, causes more problems than it solves. A team in the habit of swearing may in turn swear at the officials and this can have serious consequences in the match and afterwards.

Swearing should be discouraged, certainly in the men’s game, though it is not a habit that is going to be easily broken.

Encouragement on the other hand should be a good habit to encourage, as well as reducing the language of blame on others in the team. If something goes wrong, create the habit of positive comment rather than negative.

Fitness training

A good habit for players to have in their minds is that they are never fit enough – they could always be doing more. It encourages players to want to do further training.

So if you say at the end of a session that you will be doing some more fitness work, the players will not refuse – though they might not be too pleased initially!

Coping with stress

Stress is having so much on your plate that you feel you cannot cope. The solution to stress is to lessen the load, so look carefully at which tasks are top priority and which will not have a negative effect if left.

One task at a time

Concentrate on one task at a time. Complete this then move on. In coaching terms, this means doing each job well at training, not leaving it unfinished and not becoming sidetracked. You will find that more is done in the same amount of time.

Take time off

Time away from coaching is crucial to make coaching time the best time.

In this age of mobile phones and emails, you can be reached everywhere, but calls and emails don’t need to be answered straight away. Be contactable, but also dictate when you are going to talk and reply.

To be switched on to coaching, you need to be switched off at other times. List what you do and see what you are really responsible for and what could be done by others. Concentrate on the basic coaching tasks and delegate everything else.


A coach has to design and deliver the training programme and help select a side. Everything else could be delegated. For instance, get the players to put out and bring in the equipment and count in the balls and/or pump them up.


Prioritise your tasks, do them one at a time, and in your own time. Make sure you can be contacted on your terms and don’t let others rule your life. And finally, there are many rewards to be gained from coaching – embrace them fully!

The coach’s duties*

  • Leader
  • Organiser
  • Manager
  • Friend
  • Counsellor
  • Teacher
  • Motivator
  • Innovator
  • Hero
  • “Fall guy”
  • Decision maker
  • Role model
  • Planner
  • Taxi driver

*According to the UKCC Level 1 Coaching courses.

This article is taken from Motivating Your Team manual. Click the link to order a copy of Motivating Your Team and get valuable expert insight from top coaches, as well as players and sports psychologists. 

Click the link for rugby coaching tips to help you become a better youth coach.

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