Five training solutions for limited space

Any coach who trains his players under lights or with lots of other teams knows all about coaching in a limited area. Finding enough space to develop your rugby players’ skills and techniques is difficult under these conditions is difficult.

Here are my five rugby coaching tips to solve the problem.

1. Three-way rest and work

Split the players into three groups. One group will work on a skill and the second on a fitness element, whilst the third group rests.

Make sure you rotate the groups every 90 seconds or so, with a 30 second gap in between to identify coaching points.

If you have more than one coach, they can supervise the fitness element or feedback with the waiting group.

2. One-on-one contact skills

A small space is ideal for players to work on their close quarter contact skills.

Line up players in pairs, no more than a few metres apart. Set a ball between each pair and let them contest for it. Focus on body angles, tackling, ball retention, and footwork before contact.

For a bit more fun, you can use a fitball or a large beach ball.

Next put together two sets of pairs to build a 2 v 2 situation, then build this up into a 4 v 4.

The short distances between the players reduces the power of the impacts. This means lots of contact work with fewer bumps and bruises.

A related upside is that this is very intensive, so it can be used as part of the team’s conditioning programme. After 10 minutes intense work the players will be glad of a break.

3. Mauling game

A good whole team activity for a small space is a mauling game.

It’s especially good if the light is poor, for instance, if you are training at night, or you are on an artificial turf. It keeps players involved and on their feet in a safer contact environment.

Split the players into two teams and line them up close to each other. Give one player the ball. The teams compete to move the ball over a line to score.

The ball is not allowed to be passed through the air and neither side is allowed to bring a player to the ground.

If a “maul” becomes static for more than three seconds, turn over the ball to the other team.

4. Staggered workout

Having a few session start times allows the coach to work fewer players in the same area.

Though this may not be practical every week, or desirable in terms of team building, it can provide opportunities during the season to concentrate on specific areas on the same day.

For instance, you could start a session with the backs working on running into spaces, then follow up with a forwards’ session doing lineout moves.

5. Two spaces

You can split up the space into two working areas, one larger than the other.

Have the same number of players in each area. Then one group can work in the smaller space, concentrating on close quarter activities.

The other group then has more space to work in, for instance on passing movements and exploiting space in the larger area.


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