Fun and spontaneity in the rain

With the atrocious weather witnessed in Britain this winter (or any winter!), I remember with one of the young teams I was working with, my team manager had sometimes to book an Astroturf pitch for training.

On one of these occasions, I arrived at the venue in what I can only describe as “film set” rain, with the downpour spectacularly highlighted by the floodlights.

The boys had already organised themselves into a game of touch rugby. They were up and running as soon as the hockey players from the previous session had left the training area. Despite the weather, only a few of the boys were missing.

After five minutes, one of our coaches called them in, added a small wrinkle to the rules of the game, and then it was back in. And this was the pattern of the whole training session. We simply added different rules or gave the players an idea. One coach would be refereeing, whilst the others would be talking to the players. In some cases it would be a call across the pitch – highlighting a good thing done or reminding them of a better way to do it.

Other times, the coach would approach the player with very specific advice. The final 10 minutes was still touch rugby, but with a 1 v 1 ruck contest after the tackle.

At the end, we gathered the players together. We asked them lots of questions about what they had learned, what improvements they had made. We did this as a huddle and the energy inside the group was electric, with answers pinging back.

I’d like to say we had planned this session but we hadn’t. We simply went with what felt right on the night. Given the dreadful weather, it worked a treat.

It was a session you can only run every couple of months – but it’s one I have returned to time and time again.

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