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Posted in: Coaching Top Tips

In the words of Yoda 'require your help I do'

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  • Goose

    Evening all

    My first entry!

    In the words of Yoda 'require your help I do'

    I have been asked by some of the junior playing committee at my local rugby club to put together a simple 'how to guide' for our coaches. Each age group has at least one level one coach at the helm but the issue for me is that walking around the sessions this season there is a lot of drilling going on. It is obvious the majority of coaches are going straight to the 'silver bullet' of you tube as a time saver and taking it to training evenings and Sunday mornings. 

    I am a PE teacher of 17 years and level 2 coach so I have had time to develop my own pedagogical approaches. I have more recently past 18 months, started consuming books and podcasts! So my brain is exploding and feel like my learning journey is moving into the fast lane! Which is all good fun.

    Nailing my colours to the mask, I am not a fan of 'drills' for a game of chaos that rugby is. I have found through many mistakes all you do when you drill is develop a skill in one type of environment, forcing the child to learn the skill again when you go into 'playing the game', this in turn leads to my bug bear (because I was one) shouty coaches. I have come to learn rightly or wrongly, that a coach that shouts is actually broad casting to the world, what he/she has not done, but I digress that is another issue.

    I am a fan of the teaching games for understanding. More recently I am developing my understanding and learning of the Constraints led approach integrating into my practice.

    I want to see more fun and hear less of 'they never perform like they do in training' and more of what they learnt and what great sessions they have just had.

    There is so much info out there that it could fill a library in its self.

    My philosophy is based around 'smileychallengesmileyturnup' the more I can get them smiling the more they can be challenged enjoying the challenge  the more children will want turn up next week. I am trying to as, Daniel Coyle says 'pull'  players to the session; very simplistic; but it is developing and the more I read and listen to, the more I enjoy challenging myself.

    I would like our coaches to start teaching skills through games and challenges as I can see the massive positive impact this has. My question is what simple palatable steps could I give them:

    1 To get them going on the journey properly not just finding quick fixes..

    2 Get them curious to go out there and learn for themselves, as coaches need to learn implicitly just like players!

    Thanks in advance


  • andy_boyle

    Hi Nathan,

    My first post too!

    How long since those coaches went on their Level 1 course? I attended a level 1 course in November last year, but it was focused entirely on games based training - the word drill was banned, and the new Kids First Rugby courses are centred on games based learning as well I believe.

    I've played rugby for 35 years, and throughout all of that time training has been through a series of drills, and then either  placed into a controlled game context, or directly into a standard game where you may or may not have had a chance to practice the skill for real. I thought that was just 'how' you did it until I went on the Level 1 course. I was won over on the first  practical - it was bitterly cold but we were running about in less than 30 seconds, playing a simple game of 'piggy in the middle', and 5 minutes later the game had been progressed to something resembling touch rugby.

    Attending a Level 1 course for your coaches again may not be entirely palatable.

    There is the Kids First Rugby CPD - which, at 3 hours, might be a palatable option but may only be a quick fix. Whilst it would provide them with some games that they did not need to go to You Tube for, it might not change their mindset to embrace the power of the game.

    What about running a specific training session for the coaches, where you can introduce them to the concept and give them some practical exposure to both types of session to compare and contrast?

     I would be really interested to know how you overcome this in your club.


  • Goose

    Thanks Andy

    Appreciate the response and good to know what the current level 1 coaches and kids first have been exposed to. I suppose the thing with those courses is that it is adults with adults. 

    When it comes to getting the coaching hands dirty the whole approach changes as you have another thousand variables thrown into the equation. The things they don't tell you about are behaviours and dealing with people. These are crucial, you can't be expected to be an expert on behaviours just like that. It has taken me years of mistakes, reading and listening to podcasts to have a good understanding of this. These are all different young people with different needs at anyone particular time. Is there a course for how to deal with people?? Probably but most people think they are already emotionally literate and would not take it on.

    I think the suggestion to run sessions at the club with coaches using the approaches is the way forward. If they can see the benefits then hopefully that will spark curiosity. 

    Thanks again

    will keep you in the loop!


  • GlennSweeney

    I really think if your attitude to rugby is "a game of chaos"you are going to struggle to implement any kind of "coach the coach "programme . You need to take a look at a Long Term Athlete outlook. What do the kids at that particular age group desire ? How can you equip them with those skills enjoyably and give them an appetite to move on to the next level ?  THEN you work with the coaches so each one understands their role and what is required of them.to teach those needs/skils. not "one size fits all "  Rush forward slowly.No quick fixes.Enjoy

    Glenn Sweeney

  • Goose

    Interesting Comment Glenn, I think you misunderstand my view point I say chaos because of the constant changing environment and the multiple variables that are thrown at the players. The game at all age groups is different dependent on the constraints .The skills are constant. The skill sets required are coached and learnt with the players needs at the centre but through the tgfu and cla. This is definitely not a one size fits all. The long term approach is very much at the centre of this as implementing skills through games allows players to develop the nuisances and adapt to different situations which means they will have greater access to playing a game.Therefore being able to participate positively getting the most from the experience. How often have you seen players being taught to pass in a boxed scenario for only then the skills to break down when going into a game?where is the development in that?

    An extreme view on this would be,How do kids learn on the playground? If they can't do something does that stop them from learning or being a part of the experience, or do they adapt to be a part of it?

    If I can get coaches to see the merits in it then hopefully they will run with it, it is a change of mindset for coaching, the major hurdle will be with helping to design / come up with specific games. But it is by no means impossible. I believe this is the way forward, all of my reading based around drills v games indicates that games based learning is a better tool for development. And more importantly learning from my own practice coaching on the pathway and at club, all players have made progress  better by enjoying  learning through this approach. There is no such thing as a quick fix, learning is never linear.

  • Coach_Browning

    Hi Nathan

    Is it that you have spoken to the coaches about what you want and they are offering resistance to it? Or are you looking at ways to approach them about it?

    For me, it all comes down to the philosophy of the club as set by yourself. Has this been explained clearly to the coaches and have they bought into it? This has to be the first step. If they buy into what you want to achieve then they will buy into how to do it. If not then you may need to question if they are the right coaches to be part of the club. Not an easy call/discussion to make by any means, but the philosophy of the club and adherence to it is extremely important. 

    If they do understand the philosophy of the club and are just struggling to break out of a traditional/habitual mindset then this is where you as a mentor would step in. Have them reflect on each session to you. What went well, what didn't go well. Just a couple of points on each. Hopefully through that you can start to steer them down the course you want while making them feel it is themselves making the journey - which will make them want to do it more if they think they came up with it.

    Machiavellian? possibly!

  • Goose

    Hi Simon

    Thanks for the input really appreciate it.

    It was more to do with ways to approach it with them. I totally agree when you when you talk about coaching philosophy. I have got myself onto the coaching committee and am good friends with the new DoR  (who sees things from my point of view), and have planted the seeds with that small group who are all for the road ahead.

    We have come up with a cunning plan ensuring that coaches have to attend CPD's as well a couple of Q and A session's at the club on first team match days, we can then also develop the philosophy within a collegiate approach with a strong guiding hand( making them think they came up with the idea). Through all this we are dropping the seeds of ideas in to encourage coaches to use Games as the major tools for learning and developing skills (rather than drills); putting things in place so that we can help them with session planning and encourage them to to expand practices, reflecting on sessions in the way that you have suggested. You are absolutely right about it being about them breaking out of a habit, I like to see it as breaking them into a new habit, hopefully making the long term sustainable change. Luckily I have now finished with my Under 16's and so to stay in touch with it all I am what might be called a floating coach, so it will enable me to work alongside other coaches of all ages in a kind of mentoring role. The added bonus to this is that I get to steal good ideas and learn off others! 

    It is a long road but I think we have made a good start, we have the right people in right places. We have a solid CPD plan in place showing we are investing in coaches; we are now also interviewing all our head coaches as part of an appraisal process. The hope is that most coaches worth their salt will buy into it and will act as helpful springboard into next season, with the coaches who don't buy into it.....well in the words of our DoR they either stay and buy in or (and he did not put it politely) find somewhere else to coach( this will only apply to one or two). The caveat to that is we as a club are blessed with lots of volunteer coaches. 

    The journey begins for real! I am quite excited about it all. I cannot wait to get started and we are only in June!

    Thanks again for taking the time to post.


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