Nine clever ways to ramp up rugby coaching intensity

Broadly speaking commentators say intensity when they mean “ferociously tough”. But in coaching terms it refers to putting your players’ techniques and skills under the toughest tests.

What’s the benefit of coaching “intensity”?

  • It turns the technique into skill. Skill is defined as using technique in a decision-making or game situation. Performing a technique when there is less time to think improves how the player learns the skill.
  • It reduces boredom. More action equals more enjoyment.
  • It keeps the players “warm”. This is not, of course, only relevant on cold days. Keeping warm also means maintaining a level of activity to keep the muscles ready for further use.
  • It replicates the game situation. In a game players have to concentrate for short periods of time, entirely on what is going on around them. A practice should similarly involve intense activity for short periods of time, rather than long periods of semi-activity.

The low intensity warning signs

  • Long queues of players. Players don’t queue in a game and they are more likely to distract each other if they are queuing.
  • Players not sweating or being tired at the end of a rugby coaching drill. Most of the game is performed when players are not at their freshest. Mistakes are more likely under this sort of pressure. So, if the players have not been made physically uncomfortable, they are not replicating a game situation.


How you can get more intense?

  • Split your players into smaller groups.
  • Run more than one rugby coaching drill at a time. For example, have three drill boxes, each with different skills performed by a different groups.
  • Work players in pairs and not as individuals.
  • Add more stations inside a grid.
  • Make the training area smaller to allow your players to return to their starting points more quickly.
  • Have a “return activity”. For example, once players have gone through a drill box, get them to return to their starting points by performing another rugby drill.
  • Add more balls into a handling drill.
  • Have “automatic starting”. Encourage your players to start a drill as soon as possible, rather than wait for your signal.
  • Get your players to better understand the reasons for what they are doing. Impress upon them repeatedly: “If you’re not working, you’re not improving.”
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