EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Positive and good negative reinforcement

The plan and the purpose don’t come to life without your interventions to energise the players.

I like to use plenty of positive reinforcement in the session. Doing things well is rewarded with bonus points. This is my preferred approach throughout, and most especially with younger players.

With older players, say 14+, once you’ve established a positive relationship, you might be experiment with a balance of negative and positive reinforcement.

EXAMPLE OF NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT

A game is designed to encourage a presentation of the ball on the ground, on the touch or tackle the player presents the ball to his team. As the technique is the key focus there is no contest for the ball. The coach gives possession to the other team if he is not satisfied with the outcome of the presentation.

It reinforces the need to get the technique right (or work to get it right) and outlines that not doing so in a game is likely to result in a turnover to the other side. The coach could do the same for principles of play – players not going forward, or not supporting = turnover.

A BALANCE

My thoughts are that it should be a balance, either within the session or week to week. For example, good technique = a bonus point, or an extra tackle/touch, or prolonged possession.

Don’t use physical exercise as negative reinforcement. For example, 10 press-ups when a player drops the ball. It isn’t game related, and not sure it reinforces anything other than making a mistake is leads to physical punishment.

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