Rugby coaching tips for pre match team talks

Ideal pre-match mental attitude

The player's ideal state of mind for the start of the game would be alert, aware of the job on the pitch and willing to "run through a brick wall". In other words, he will be aggressive in the contact area, wanting to win the one-on-one confrontation when it presents itself.

Under aroused and he will not be concentrating and may shy away from contact. Over aroused and he is likely to make mistakes, give away penalties and not follow the game plan.

Help fire up players

Many rugby coaches' pre-match talks are aimed at firing up themselves, thinking this will work for the players as well. It can also reflect what worked for them or what was used when they played.

You need to step out of this situation and look at the players' needs.

In the build-up to the game, from when you arrive at the ground until the last 10 minutes before kick off, your role will be meeting individual requirements. After that, the talk becomes collective, team-based.

But it should focus on maintaining the right level of arousal in the current situation, and so should be sensitive to the needs of the team at that moment.

Pre-match environment

Creating the right environment for the pre-match talk can be as important as the words you say.

Most players will listen to some of what you say, but will be focusing on many other things as well. Keep the environment under control to gain the most attention.

At away games you may find yourself huddled into a corner, or having to talk to the players on the pitch. You need to be prepared for these situations.

A circle of players helps enclose the team. Some players will look around, others avert their eyes. You should take centre stage, rotate around the group and repeat the messages.

The culture of the pre match talk will come from your rugby training sessions. If you are quiet in training, then don't become much louder in the huddle. If you are blunt normally, don't try to over elaborate.

Timing the team talk

You need a clear plan of when the team talk will take place. It is "team time", so you expect players to be there and not in the toilets or getting their kit on.

You should also expect players to be switched on to what you are going to say. They are all prepared for this time together.

If you make it clear this is "team time" then you are allowing players their own time elsewhere. Then it should be easier to persuade them to come together.

Rugby coaching tips to help reduce players' anxieties before a match

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