EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Know WHY and WHAT

By going through the questions, we are separating the purpose from the content. Now, we have a clear focus on knowing WHY we are doing WHAT we are doing.

  • WHY = PURPOSE
  • WHAT = CONTENT

Let’s look at this in the following case study on using footballs for rugby.

FOOTBALLS FOR RUGBY

Coaches are encouraged to use different shaped balls in training. But before you use them, you need to first ask: Why? What is the purpose?

I observing a coach on a  Level 3 course using a football instead of a rugby ball in a training game. I asked him why. He’d seen a respected coach using it and thought it would be a good idea. But, he didn’t know why.

My question to him was, “If you don’t know why then why?”

We then explored the potential purpose of using different balls and we came up with some possible examples:

  • Improves hand/eye coordination
  • Can’t spin-pass a football, so it encourages the use of the wrist.
  • Might be easier to catch/pass for smaller children.
  • A smaller ball will encourage a focus on the catch.
  • In contact, it provides a concept of making the amount of the ball available to grab in a contest easier (large ball) or more difficult (small ball) and we can explore those concepts with a rugby ball
  • Easier to kick and reliable bounce/roll to encourage and explore concepts of cross-field kicks, chip and chase and grubber kicks.

KNOWING WHY WHY

Only when you and your players know the why, will you be able to:

  1. Observe what they are doing towards achieving the purpose of the session.
  2. Analyse what you are seeing in comparison to the vision in your mind.
  3. Feedback by using questions and to encourage the player towards the vision.
  4. Adapt and change the game/rules to accelerate learning.

However, don’t worry if the players’ actions don’t match your vision IF the outcome is positive. Remember the kicking solution when the passing solution would have been better. If that had continued to work, you would have kept it in. It didn’t, so you would ask the players about different ways to win the game.

If you didn’t have a “why” you wouldn’t be able to make a change, adapt to accelerate the learning, or just let them continue because they were moving towards a positive outcome.


Feeling like it’s a lot to take in? Don’t worry, every expert coach has felt this way. The next lesson will help you find out how to make this work for you.

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