Why training should be like an episode of Game of Thrones

Whether you were hooked or not, Game of Thrones was a phenomenal TV hit. Over 32 million viewers watched season eight.

There were lots of reasons why but one which has perhaps a lot to do with the way we should be coaching rugby.

No, it’s not the occasional naked woman or the stunning sets. It’s the unpredictability. You just don’t know when a big star is going to be killed off. You also don’t know if the good guys will win or whether a storyline will be wrapped up neatly. That’s what’s been gripping audiences.

Rugby matches are pretty similar. Though there’s a scoreline at the end of it, you can still be pleased by a loss and disappointed by a win. Plus, the opposition, weather and referee add to the lottery of the way it’s going to pan out. And, that’s why rugby is so gripping.

But, when we come to training, there’s a great danger that we sanitise that game so we have neat, measurable outcomes. Every passing drill has to finish with a perfect set, every play has to be completed exactly before we move on.

Yet we know that rarely happens in the matches. Also, though there’s often a desire to get it perfect in training, it can become a little boring and perhaps demotivate the players.

So, why not forget perfect and mirror the game more. Mix up set-piece training with other sections of the session.

For example, after a warm-up game, run one lineout, one backs move and then go into a passing exercise. Then, suddenly, do two lineouts, two backs moves before moving into a tackling exercise. Add in some games in between, like races or 30-second touch boxes.

It’s chaotic and the players don’t know what to expect. Just like a match really. It will certainly keep everyone wondering what’s going to happen in next week’s episode.

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