Two games to change the picture

Twenty years of writing about coaching makes you reflective. I did use games 20 years ago. I invented some at the time, and still use variations of them. You would think by now I would have seen them all.

Thankfully no! Here are two more games, ones that I’ve “stolen” from football, and made them into rugby games. They might be out there already in some form, but you can see my versions here: 3D square attack and pluses and Game: Catch them out.

When you use them, as I discovered myself, you must adjust the pitch sizes to suit the circumstances. With the kick and catch game, I started with 10m boxes, but made them a bit bigger because the players were quick enough to move into position.

With the handling decision-making game, I originally didn’t have the cones inside the box. The defenders were just covering around the outside. In the end, the defenders just cut corners. So, instead of shouting at them, I allowed them to run anywhere they liked. However, they couldn’t intercept passes and could only make a touch two steps from the try lines. It was a sort of player-coach solution as the players were breaking the rules so much.

The key was that it was a rule that didn’t have much impact on behaviour. How many players have to run around a box in a match situation? So, I relaxed this rule and the game became more fluid.

Thanks to football (how often can you say that!), for providing new ways to coach decision-making. And remember that real decision-making is not what you think is the best way to achieve an outcome. Instead, it should be the players that select one of a number of solutions, some of which will be better than others. Then they will understand when to use their techniques and how to do so.

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