On the run feedback

Former Wallabies assistant coach Nick Scrivener tells us how he hones the skills of his players and how you can sharpen your own squad’s handling skills. He’s keen to keep the flow of training going, so he gives his feedback “on the run”.


When I set up activities, I want them to flow. Therefore, I feedback “on the run” rather than stopping and starting too often. There needs to be a balance between continuity and information, when too much information stifles activity. This enhances a core skills session where we may want to work
to a high intensity and pump out plenty of repetition.

I know this sounds very basic but it is important the explanation and demonstration is very clear. Then players can do plenty of repetitions, with coaches throwing in feedback as players move from point to point. Afterwards, I might give them more detailed feedback as different players need different feedback at different times.

However, I always use common language and terminologies.


In a handling drill I might say “inside hip” which is where I want the players to catch the ball, or “fingers to the sky” for catching or “fire the wrists” to pass, all with the name of the player – these will not be new terms to the players.

They will already know why we are concentrating on these skills and we may make reference to the execution of the particular skill in previous matches or training.

When I am observing an activity, I also look for trends. It is easy to pick up one-off instances. If there are new areas to address, these will be done later.


In any activity, you also need to make the “what” and “why” very clear too. For example, we might be focusing on the breakdown. If we were penalised a lot in the tackle area for lying on the ball in a match, we work on tackle stability/balance and positioning post tackle or rolling away if we cannot stay on our feet.

The “why” is reducing the penalty count, the “what” is executing tackles better or the rolling away post tackle.

Essentially, we want the whole squad singing from the same hymn sheet in a short period of time – and keeping things simple is the best way to achieve this.


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