Five solutions to odd team numbers at training

Find you have an odd number at training, but you want to have a game? Here’s how to adjust to make things “even”.

Swap shop

In games, a try scorer can swap teams, thus ensuring no one team is always a player down in numbers. It also means no one team benefits from any of the more adept players.


Aside from the main activity, take out an odd number of players and work with them for a few minutes on a side exercise, for instance, tackling.

Run the side exercise for just a couple of minutes, then mix those players back into the main activity and take out a different set of players.

Whistle happy

One player could referee for a short while before swapping back in and somebody else taking the whistle. This promotes Law understanding and is good experience for the players to become used to different referees’ interpretations.


One, or any odd number, of players could stand out and observe for a minute or two with an adult coach, and make observations on what has been done well and what could be improved upon when reporting back to the teams.

This promotes game understanding, team self-coaching and positive critique.

Mix and match

Several of these activities could be run in parallel of course. While one player is refereeing, and one coaching, you could also be running “swap shop” within the game.

A “short while” for any of these activities should only be a couple of minutes. This ensures that everybody maximises playing involvement. It also maximises the benefits of rotation to the most players possible.


Share this
Follow us