Conversion to games

Fast forward to the heat and dust of Zambia. We arrive in Lusaka to find we only had four hours to prepare the teams. An hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon over two days.

Chris “Tapps” Tappers, one of the founders of the Tag Rugby Trust

I’m five minutes into my first afternoon session and I find one of the founders, Chris “Tapps” Tappers, at my shoulder.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m quite assured.

But, at this moment, standing next to a man who has invested so much time into this programme, my self-confidence is melting away in the heat of the Zambian sunshine.

“Gary”, he says, “It’s amazing. These players are ready for the festival now. What you’ve done in an hour normally takes us 18.”

He was converted to my methods.

From that moment, the trust adopted my approach. It’s the one I still use today, nearly two decades on: Conditioned games.

But, don’t think for a minute that I was letting these players just “play games”.

It has to be done well.

What does “done well” mean?

Now it’s time for you to do some work. You need a pen and paper.

From the following words, what do you think are the three most important aspects of coaching through games.

Believing that your decisions are positive, that you will make mistakes and be able to rectify them.
Understanding your purpose and then creating a game that will meet that purpose.
Knowing how to change the game and/or purpose if the players lead you in a different, positive direction.
Comfortable to change a game or adopt a different approach.
Keen observation
Seeing more than just what happens around the ball carrier, noticing everyone’s contribution.
Breaking down the game into its component parts, based on the principles of play to allow focused feedback.
Giving players pertinent information, either through questions or by telling them. Feedback should be positively phrased, even for fault correction.

We will reflect on your thoughts in the next topic and what I think each aspect means in a games context.

If you are interested in what the Tag Trust do, here’s a lovely video of them in action.

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