Empowered warm-up with games

Use this “empowered” warm up to give your players more say in how training looks. See the note on empowerment below this activity.

  1. Break the pitch down into quarters.
  2. Allocate a player as a leader for each pitch. The leader chooses what they want the rules of their touch game to be. You may want to prime these players before they arrive at training so they can plan.
  3. Split the group down into small teams, with ideally 4 or 5 players per team.
  4. Send them to their pitches and ask the leader to explain their version of the game. Give them a one minute time limit to explain and get the game started.
  5. After 5 minutes blow the whistle. Bring the group in for some activation and dynamic stretches. Then send the teams back to a different pitch and repeat for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Finish with a second set of activation and stretches.

If you have 10-12 players at training, then this would mean one game at a time, with a different leader each time. The leader will be playing in the game.

You can split into two concurrent games with 16 or more players.

With younger players, you will definitely want to prime the leaders. They should play games they are already familiar with.

For more on dynamic stretches, click here.

For ideas on activation, try:


Empowerment means delegating authority to the players to make decisions.

They have to be responsible for those outcomes. If it’s not working, they need to take charge of making changes.

And to know why it is working or not working, they need to have a clear idea on what needs to be achieved.

Therefore when you empower players you need to check for the following:

  • Do they have a clear idea on what the objectives are?
  • Do they know what they have in their power to change?
  • Do they know what where their responsibility starts and finishes?

For example, you will be responsible for safety and probably the equipment. Also, you will be in charge of discipline.

You will agree the outcomes. For example, here, the players want to increase their heart rates, do something that is rugby related, active, inclusive and above all engaging.

You will perhaps chat through some possible changes. For example, pitch sizes, the numbers in the teams, different points systems.

Then you have to let go and let them play.

You can ask afterwards how they found it. And, then the real process starts, because if you allow them to take charge again, then it shows you have given them a level of trust. That’s the real power of empowerment.

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