EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

7 things that make a great coach

The best coaches make it their job to do certain things all the time. Learn from the best by following their 7 key habits

1. Honesty

You want your players to trust you. When it comes to the tough decisions, especially in terms of selection, you should be honest about the reasons for what you are doing.

All Blacks coach Graham Henry says you should say whether the player has lost form or another player is playing better. And that’s it.

You cannot afford to go back on your word either. Therefore, be careful in the promises you make.

2. Human

Admit mistakes when you have made them. Do it quickly, without excuses and then move on. Again, players will trust you more in the long term.

Of course, top coaches don’t make many mistakes but they are not afraid to admit to them. Manchester United legend Alex Ferguson said he told his players when he got something wrong but certainly never made that mistake again.

3. Clarity

Have a clear plan, know in what direction you are heading and make sure everyone else does to. It gives purpose to training and preparation. It helps others plan, ask the right questions and understand why they are there.

4. Energy

Give energy to players by wanting them to improve all the time. Look for ways to keep everyone moving forward. Be positive in your outlook. England’s Clive Woodward said you need to cut out energy sappers, players who make others feel bad and unloved.

5. Fresh

Keep training sessions up-to-date and fresh. That does not mean completely different every week. Instead, look for new ways to do the same things.

Introduce different ideas to stimulate the players. Challenge yourself to want to know more. Wales coach Rob Howley says that you should never stop learning as a coach or want to stop learning, otherwise you should stop coaching.

6. Lead with leaders, care about your players

Have a strong team of leaders within your team. They will influence others in the team. If you give these leaders responsibility, they will trust you. Share and develop your plan with these leaders and they will follow you more.

But don’t ignore your other players. Show them care and attention. As John Wooden, the basketball leadership guru says: “Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”

7. Vision

What is your dream for this team? Is it achievable? How will you get there? The top coaches dare to dream.

You can do the same and then focus your energies on what needs to happen to get there. Your planning, your actions, your demeanour will all reflect that dream.

Philosopher Carl Jung said:

“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

Non-negotiable traits

1. You are always on time
2. You prepare well
3. You work harder than anyone else in the team

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