EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Activities for U11 players

Under 11s is a year of consolidation for most players.

Some unions will introduce some form of kicking (Kick to target) and there may be a contested strike in the scrums. However the majority of the game will be unchanged in terms of new skills.

Your approach should be to keep working on the core skills of handling, tackling and contact, which all include footwork skills.

Though you might employ some tactics, the underlying themes should be:

  • Excellent ball presentation skills to allow quick ball from the rucks. Try Ruck placement

In defence, it is better to play games to work on line organisation.

Ideally you will have a good line at every opportunity. Defence drills rarely work at this age though. It’s better to make the situations game-like.

Also, avoid allocating positions. You will find players will naturally graduate to some positions, which is fine. Instead, concentrate on all the players being able to pass, ruck and tackle.

Finally, as emphasised in the Under 10s, practise good body positions going into contact. Don’t spend any time on “mauling” if your union rules allows mauling. Once a player is caught in a maul, there’s not much chance of either quick ball or even getting the ball back in some cases. Leave mauling to when there’s lineout lifting.

Change your 2 v 1 expectations for young players

in Attack, Rugby drills

The classic 2 v 1 exercise doesn’t work well with young players. Don’t give up on it though. Try out these ideas to work on this crucial decision-making area of the game. A 2 v 1 exercise has the ball carrier fixing the defender before passing to a support player. However, for young players, this doesn’t work well. MORE

Game changer

in Return to play, Small-sided games

Challenge players to react to the chance to have an extra player in attack and how to defend against it. It’s a quick game, so decisions will need sharp action. No match has unequal numbers unless there’s a yellow card. But sometimes the attack has an overload as a tackler is temporarily indisposed. Replicate that with this game. The “changer” will be doing most of the thinking. MORE

Load the bases

in Attack, Return to play, Rugby drills

Fast recycling players is a feature of any top team. It means that players are in a position to take the ball from the next breakdown. If they are ready, they can attack with pace. When players reposition themselves after a set-piece or a ruck, they have to read the game and know their roles. A better understanding of this will enhance your team’s attacking cohesion. MORE

Footwork bumps

in Footwork and evasion, Return to play, Touch, Tag & Sevens

Encourage your players to use good footwork in small spaces by avoiding contact. These two fun activities are excellent for warming up body and mind. Though rugby is a contact game, avoiding it is a core skill. There are no set techniques because each player will have their own style. Let them develop it in these two activities. MORE

RTP Pairs support: Great for Ready4Rugby skills zone

in Passing & Handling, Return to play

Develop your players’ ability to work in pairs in attack to beat defenders or offload under pressure to a support player. A great skills breakout for Ready4Rugby training. The ball carrier should always aim to go forward first and then beat the defender in front of him. If he can’t then he should be aware of his support players and offload the ball before or during contact. MORE

Snake footwork races

in Footwork and evasion, Mini tag, Return to play, Rugby drills

Develop your players’ go-forward skills with evasion in this competitive scenario. It’s easy to set up and you can add lots of variations. Even though some of the players will “cheat” by not exactly stepping to the side of the cones, their swerves and go-forward will help them replicate these skills in a match situation. MORE

An introduction to angles and switches

in Passing & Handling, Rugby drills

The switch pass is notoriously difficult to coach. Try out this activity to let your players develop the right sort of skill. There are lots of moving parts in a switch pass which mean, even at the top level, they can be difficult to execute. This activity gives the players more awareness of their running lines and potential passes. MORE

Real kicks to find space

in Kicking & Catching

Build up the skill to kick accurately and then kick to where the defence are not. Often kicks in open field are aimless. In this session, challenge the players first to kick to where they intend to, and then to kick to where the defence are not. In other words, look before kicking. MORE

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