Two coaching ideas that will make your planning easier this weekend

I recently polled coaches on Twitter on how long they spent planning.

While over half suggested they spent up to 25 minutes on the process, two in every five coaches spent longer.

Planning a session isn’t easy and we all know the horrors of a poorly planned session.

Here are two coaching ideas to make it easier.


Read or listen to the best learning gurus and they will tell you that everyone needs to be reminded of what they have just learned and about to forget. Doug Lemov, in his recent book, A Coach’s Guide to Teaching, highlights this time and again.

Listen our podcast on the book here.

That means, your training session should include elements of the previous sessions. If at least half the session was purely the same as before, but with small changes, then you would be creating some excellent outcomes.

For example, a tackling exercise could have different starting points, more options for the attackers or a smaller space to work in. A new “play” might be tested out at random moments during the session.


A training template is a simple way to plan your session. And if your players know what is coming, you don’t need to spend much time explaining or selling what’s happening next.

From a planning point of view that makes things easier. For example, you might follow a pattern of a warm-up game, a skills block, a unit block and then a game to finish.

Having a couple of different templates helps retain some variety, where you might have mixed up the elements, or have breakouts inside games.

From a planning point of view, your “rollout” of a session is the part that needs the most time. Rollout means introducing a new idea, skill or rule into a session. It will be something that the majority if not all the players, and perhaps even you own coaches, won’t have seen before.

To make that easier, follow these three steps:

  1. Imagine what it looks like at the end of the idea, and then work backwards.
  2. Away from the session, talk through how you would explain it to the players. If you can use something physical, like salt cellars and pepper pots to map it out, that’s even better.
  3. Before the start of training, explain it to a fellow coach, or even a player.

Both these ideas should make the planning process easier, because you can be confident of good outcomes.

Here are some planning ideas to help build your sessions:

Lockdown planning: Passing skills zones

Lockdown planning: Rebuilding lineout skills

Lockdown planning: Team games to rebuild understanding

Lockdown planning: Better support for the ball carrier

Lockdown planning: Bust the line

Lockdown planning: Protecting against an overlap

Lockdown planning: Exploiting a narrow defence session

Lockdown planning: Preventing quick ruck ball sessions

Lockdown planning: Quick ruck ball sessions

Back to action games planning

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