Freshen up your training

If you are nearing the end of a long hard season your players will be tired in all sorts of ways, physically and mentally. It’s not a good time to take on new ideas so small adjustments can make a big difference.

A long season can mean players start to become stale. Create motivation and enthusiasm through small changes in the way you approach training, not with new ideas.

There are a number of activities that can help you create this and freshen up the players’ energy levels.


Players at your club or school will have a number of activities they really enjoy and you should use these as part of your warm ups or core session activities. Groups I coach really enjoy a smallsided 4 v 4 touch rugby game played in a 30m x 15m box.

The rules are when you are touched or the ball goes to ground, all four defenders have to run back and touch their own try line before defending, meanwhile their opponents have got to the ball and must start with a pass.


Take the 4 v 4 game and add in a couple of new rules/conditions such as:

  • Grubber kicks can be used to penetrate the defence with attackers running through to gather the ball and score.
  • After the first touch the ball carrier can offload. When the second touch takes place, the ball is put down and all four attackers retreat back and touch their try line before returning to attack. The defenders still retreat to their try line.

By adding these to an already enjoyable activity that challenges the players in a variety of ways, players will get enthusiastic and work hard to perform well.

  • Play 4 v 4. When the ball carrier is touched, he stops and then passes.
  • When a touch is made, all the defenders run back to their try line, before turning to defend again

  • Develop by allowing the attack to pass on the first touch.
  • On the second touch, the ball carrier puts the ball down and returns to his try line and all the other attackers run back to their try line before returning to attack again.
  • As an alternative, allow the players to kick.


Make as many of the activities competitive. It could be as simple as holding a competition in the 4 v 4 touch game, with a league table used to create the willingness to win.

You can also do the following for team preparation activities:

Receiving kick offs Can your team successfully receive ten successful kick offs, set up a driving maul and then box a kick?

Lineouts Can your team throw three to the front, three to the middle and three to the tail, with a mixture of drives and ploys from each?

Backline attack From set piece your backline has to successfully get over the gain line. Two attacks wide, two attacks through the middle and two attacks bringing the attack back near the set piece.

All of these should be done with no opposition but emphasize game speed. Then introduce opponents with pads, followed by conditioned opposition, saying using grab tackles.

The losing team might clear up the kit at the end of the session, but avoid “fitness” forfeits.


You must be mindful that the players have had a long season and judge the intensity and physicality of your sessions. Players will appreciate shorter, sharper sessions, even if you’re preparing for finals or play-offs.

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