Tips to devise effective coaching strategies

1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

Look at your individual players, units, and the team. What are they good at? What do they do well? What do they do poorly?

A simple chart could be drawn showing their skills with the ball, without the ball and in contact. Be positive but realistic. Ambitions for a side must be achievable otherwise the players will be become de-motivated.

2. Winning the ball

How are you going to get the ball out of the grasp of the opposition? Will the team tackle aggressively, compete at every scrum and lineout?

Decisions will need to be made about how many players should commit to rucks. Some sides will only have two players in a ruck and then spread the defence out, waiting for their opponents to either make a mistake or kick the ball away. The more intelligent the side, the more sophisticated the defence can be.

3. Keeping the ball

What is the team going to do in the contact situation? How are you best at retaining possession? The choice here is to ruck or maul.

The best teams can do both, but with limited time to practice it is important to be able to do at least one very well. It is simpler to ruck than maul, but the latter will suit bigger sides.

4. Using the ball

How are you going to recycle the ball and play through the phases? First, think set piece. How are we going to go forward from scrums and lineouts? What back row moves have you perfected? Do you catch and drive from the lineout? Will you always move the ball wide early?

Then think broken play. What attack patterns suit our team?

5. Selling the strategy

Once you have formulated the team strategy, you will need to convince your fellow coaches and the players about it. Here are a couple of good tips on how to sell your plan:

  • Talk to the key personalities first and get them on your side.
  • Have a team meeting and make the players devise the strategy, of course with your guidance. This has the advantage of sharing the responsibility.

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 more coaching strategy tips.

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