Designing a 15 minute session on contact attack & defence

Good body shapes in attack and defence

I was helping out a representative under 15s training session. I had been given two techniques to cover as part of a skill. One attacking technique and one defensive.

My approach was this:

First, I set up a small-sided game (two if I had more than 12 players, which I didn’t).

The game was heavily modified, so the skill affordances were plentiful. An affordance is a chance to try out the skill. The rules were simple and the players will be playing within 30 seconds of the activity time starting.

After the players had a chance to play, I introduced the first idea.

We then got back into the game. The modifications to the initial game favoured the players who performed an outcome the quickest. For example, the attack to get the ball away from the tackle area before the defender on their feet reached the ball. Quick defenders won turnovers.

I then introduced the second technique, which was more attack-orientated.

The two techniques helped the players “win the game” or score more points. They weren’t the only techniques needed, nor did they need to be performed perfectly. In fact, there was plenty of excellent offloading and straight running, plus some pretty poor passing too! However, the quicker and more effective players were, the more chance of winning.

After the game had been going for about five more minutes, I gave the players a short tactical break. During this break, they had a chance to discuss how to win the game. I gave them a countdown from 10 to speed up the process. I also made it quite clear that I was after a winning team, agitating them to be better than the other side.

This motivated them to increase their effort to be technically better, but crucially, at the right time. After the tactical chat, I did think about giving each group a couple of minutes to try out the technique within the groups. They wouldn’t be running a drill. They will just be having a go to give themselves some more confidence. But I thought that they were doing okay – it was an option if they hadn’t grasped the idea.

Then it was back into the game.

When we finished, I gave them a quick summary of the game and the technique. I used to get them to demonstrate. In this case, it was just some quick reminders before they moved off to the next section.

You can see the game here. I’ve called the progressions “ultras” to give the players a sense of urgent changes. In other words, they need to adjust quickly, tactically as well as technically to win the game.

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