6 spices to add to your training mix

Keep your players focussed during sessions by spicing up training. Use these six exercises in rotation to vary their skills, make them think and give them no time to get bored.

Players will often lose their concentration during sessions leading to mistakes and a poorer attitude. Shouting at them won’t make much difference. You need to create an environment to perform in and some interesting ways to train.

We know they want to play games, but you will also want to develop specific skills. Use a carousel of activities, where the players rotate from station to station after every minute. If you are using six stations, let each group do three, then move into a game and then return back to the next three and so on.

  1. 2 v 1. Two goes and then swap defender. Start by the defender throwing the ball to one of the attackers.
  2. Three players aim to drive the ball to the far end of the box. If they lose possession or go out of the box, then change over.
  3. 1 v 1 defence. Tackle, turn, tackle. Four tackles and then swap over.
  4. Evasion, with the ball carrier aiming to get to the far end without being two-hand touched.
  5. Ball wrestle. The ball carrier aims to keep the ball for a count to 10 from two other players.
  6. Ball gather – one player rolls out the ball and two players chase to see who can pick it up cleanly, with the winner rolling out the next ball.


The session above uses six activities working on different techniques and skills. The activities vary from ball wrestling, to evasion to decision-making. You can easily double up a station, so two groups of three are working at the same time.

The players can move through each station after a minute and because of the variety they keep their concentration.


  • Mistakes creeping in.
  • Players talking or standing about.
  • Body language of players is poor.
  • Involvement in the activities is done at a low intensity.

Energise the players by keeping to the clock and asking them to work hard when the clock’s on. Give them rest periods and chances to take on water and chat to allow a chance to know when they are working intensely.


Mark out the areas clearly before training.

Walk the players through the exercises before you start the session.

Players want to know which station to move to next. Make the path from station to station clear.

Keep the energy high during and between transitions. Shout out how much time they have left.

Reiterate the skills at each station as the players are performing. Make the players self-correct if they can.

At various intervals, stop the session to go into two of the stations and review the techniques.

Use this type of session every couple of weeks. Mix up the “spices”, so there are some new stations in the mix, but still some old favourites. It means only explaining the set up for a short time.

Use injured players to watch over the stations and check for good technique. This works for all levels of player.

If you don’t have enough players for all the stations, then leave a couple blank. Six is still a good number to keep them thinking. Work in groups of five if you can, with three players working, and two players swapping in after every go or a short space of time.

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