Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


The real challenge of coaching under 9s rugby by David Clarke
November 11, 2008, 11:03 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching | Tags: ,

Remember the time when you attended your first proper contact training session. You would have probably played “tackling” in the park or garden plenty of times, but the first session was special. Whether you were eight years of age or older, you would have felt a mix of apprehension, some fear, much excitement and a desire to get going.

Those feelings are probably mirrored when you first started coaching contact. But what do you cover first, in what depth and for how long?

These questions vex many coaches, experienced or not. In your first year of contact coaching there is a danger of expecting too much from the players and perhaps even too much from yourself. My experience of the first three months of contact coaching with youngsters who played tag the year before is this:

1. Expect some attrition of players. They may return, but it has become a different game with contact and they just may not want that anymore.

2. Don’t “fire up” the players in the way you would older players. They lose skill levels very quickly and are more likely to do damage to themselves.

3. Don’t teach the adult game. Concentrate on the very basic contact skills.

4. Players learn contact in games by playing small-sided games where they are gettting plenty of activity.

5. Don’t expect consistency! You don’t know what cereal they had on match day…

6. Be patient with skill acquisition. It can take months for the penny to drop.

The real challenge is modifying your vision of the game to match the age group you are dealing with. The shape of the game only comes from 11 and onwards. So there is no point in coaching plays, sophisticated ruck ball tactics (bridging for instance!) or defensive alignments other than a simple line defence.

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