Rugby coaching tips for helpful half time huddles

Half-time objectives

  • Motivate the players.
  • Give them the best opportunity to absorb information.
  • Let them recover while taking on water.

When outlining a poor aspect of the team's performance, a key rugby coaching tip is to deliver advice in a positive and constructive way. If the defence has gaps, try not to blame players or dwell on it. Instead warn players not to get sucked in with comments such as, "don't fall for dummies", "concentrate" and "trust your inside man."

Players are not motivated by being told what they did wrong, but more by how they can improve and resolve problems.

Organisation tips

To ensure a well-planned, consistent half-time structure you need to:

  • Organise touchline staff and decide whether all are needed for the break.
  • Keep your reserves posted and warm just in case of injuries.
  • Decide on the next step for the team and be confident and focused on what you are about to say.

Location and positioning

Be in the best possible position to deliver a clear and logical viewpoint on the first half and the following forty minutes.

As soon as the first half is over, move to your players. Don't make them move for you. Unless there is an obvious alternative, such as some shade or cover in sunny or adverse weather. Players should be told in advance of the half time meeting place.

Be clear from obvious distractions such as the opposition.

Ask the players to sit down. This way communication is easier, the players are still and they are in the best position for recovery and hydration.


A key tip is to get players to drink moderate amounts of water at a continual rate. This means having as many water bottles available as possible. Successful recovery and hydration allows the team to absorb feedback quicker.

Key rugby coaching tips

For the most constructive feedback time:

  • Get or wait until you know that you have everyone's attention.
  • Provide two or three major points.
  • Be clear, positive and constructive.
  • Colourful language doesn't necessarily motivate players.

If two coaches need to contribute, try to avoid repetition and keep the number of voices to a minimum. The opinion of the captain is important, so try to pick up on his thoughts before you get the team together.

Individual ideas or concerns can be voiced if forwards and backs briefly separate. This is the best time to address specific technical problems. Speak also to the other key players.

Once you have said all that is needed, relay it in a summary. Short, simple and punchy pointers are easy to digest during recovery, rather than a long winded spiel.

Allow opportunities for the physio and trainer to keep you updated on the players' condition.

Plan for the second half

  • Pinpoint the areas for improvement.
  • Highlight opposition weaknesses and how to take advantage of them.
  • Re-emphasise the positives and the skills from the first half and the need to stick to the game plan, particularly for the first 10 minutes of second half.
  • Before you leave the field, have a quick final word with the captain before the final huddle is formed.

Half time warnings

  • Don't talk until everyone is listening.
  • Don't concentrate on negatives.
  • Don't spring any surprises.
  • Don't allow too much player input all at once.

This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.

Click here for a rugby coaching drill to get a better kick-off from your players.

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