EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Drills before games when coaching young players

There are times when you have to use drills before you can get into a game in training. Here are four angles you must cover before the kids start anything too physical.

I try to create games or competitive activities in most of my coaching because players enjoy them and they bring elements of realism into practice. This also adds pressure players can easily transfer to matches.

There are times, however, when a good old-fashioned drill is needed and is the right way to cover certain aspects of rugby, especially with Minis.

Remember: Safety first

This is a very important aspect at this age and vital when it comes to introducing tackling and contact. As coach you have the responsibility to ensure players are introduced and coached the correct technique in a structured way.

For example, when introducing the tackle you would demonstrate and explain the head, shoulder and arm positions and use in making the tackle. You may then take it on to use a simple drill with a static tackler and a ball carrier walking past.

Further drills would be used until you were happy that the players knew what they were doing and had a good solid technique. It would be at this point you could use games instead of drills.

Target the technique

In competitive activities or games you will find that under pressure the technique in performing a skill breaks down. It’s at this point you would go back to setting up a drill that specifically works on the particular technique such as passing.

Once players improve the technique through the drill go back to the game and see if their passing technique holds up under pressure.

Conditioning a reaction

Certain situations in a game need the same response. By setting up a drill where the ball carrier is to offload out of the tackle, the response of the support players should be pretty similar each time. Therefore, by re-enforcing it in a drill it will become instinctive when players are in a match and the ball carrier is looking to offload out of the tackle.

One-to-one coaching

Using a drill can highlight one player’s weakness in technique. The drill can continue while you do some one-to-one technique improvement or talk a specific point through with a player. Drills are tools which you can and should use in certain circumstances to introduce new players or new techniques in rugby. They can also be fun and a great way to prepare players for sessions especially if the drill is known to the players – it switches them on.

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