5 ways to survive assessed sessions

Even vital cup matches can sometimes be less stressful that having to plan and organise a practical session on a coaching course. Here is my survival guide – from someone who has been on both sides of the fence on many occasions.

1. Make two plans

You are asked to make a formal plan. Follow through using the template from your workbook. You hand that to the tutor on the course.

Then make your own crib sheet plan. This is a small sheet you can keep in your pocket with some key points on it. You can pull it out at any time and refer to it.

2. Use pebbles and coins

Unless you have the luxury of being able to run through the exercise at your club or school beforehand, try out the exercise on your kitchen table at home with pebbles or coins as players. Set them out and move them through to help you picture the various lines of running each player might have to take. Static exercises, like scrums or lineouts won’t need this of course.

3. Brief the observer

Just before you start your session, hand over the session to the tutor and tell them two things. Firstly, what you are aiming to work on specifically. For instance, “I am working on catching the high ball with an emphasis on high hands”. Secondly, what coaching process you want to work on. For example: “And I am concentrating on my observational skills, with plenty of movement during the exercise”. That focuses you and it focuses the tutor. If he pulls you up on something else, you can say “thanks” but then ask him about your specific aims.

4. Concentrate on the rugby

Let them play. In the very short time you are with the players in an observed session, you cannot “coach” effectively if the players are not doing some rugby. Spend no more a minute on an introduction before you are getting them to do something – maybe a demonstration or making them move around in an exercise.

5. identify faults – correct, do nothing or develop

A good coach sees what’s not working and corrects. He sees what is working and praises, leaving it alone. And he offers one fresh idea to the player. In your session, look to find one fault – and suggest/tease out a solution. Find one thing that is going well – say it but don’t change it. Finally, bring a new idea for the players to think about. For example, in a passing exercise:

Fault: “That pass is going too high – what could you do differently with the hands?”

Do nothing: “Good communication guys, more of the same”

Develop: “How about trying

My task doesn’t make sense

Quite often coaches are allocated a task which doesn’t seem to make sense. You should ask your tutor immediately if you are not sure what is required. And here is what is best to ask: “I have been given Task A, which is to… I am not quite sure what the problem is I have to solve with the drill”. That should elicit the aim of the exercise, and then you can start to plan properly.


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