Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Most players just follow orders by David Clarke
July 23, 2009, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , ,

Don’t be fooled into thinking that players know what they are doing. Most don’t, they just follow orders.

Well, you wish they did follow orders, but sometimes they forget them altogether, and make even more horrendous mistakes.

And then, just when you think they might be progressing to the next level, someone on a coaching course tells you that you should be using more “game sense” exercises. You go back, tear up the rule book and watch as the players become even more confused.

Game sense is the fancy term for playing “football”, a term I knew when I was starting out playing first class rugby. The “footballer” knew when to pass, kick or run because he played what was in front of him, rather than keeping rigidly to a set of rules.

Introducing game sense sessions to more established players and coaches can be difficult. They prefer the drill-based nature of training, where the drills neatly lead to players moving evenly around the stations over a period of time.

There is no harm in that. It creates repetitive situations allowing players to hone their skills in different environments. Many drills are game related and are arguable already game sense in their nature. A 2 v 1 drill is a good example.

However, the game sense approach is more subtle than that. Instead, players have to make a multiple range of decisions based on a number of factors. These factors are plucked directly from game situations. Interestingly you don’t need to have just purely rugby related situations to help communication, footwork and handling.

But the key to all this: there are lots of right answers and plenty of probably wrong answers. The best players EVALUATE the best options and execute them accurately and on time.

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2 Comments so far
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When I first started coaching I took a clinic that gave me drills, (using pylons, etc) that I did with my players only to discover that the opposition never behaved like the pylons. Getting your players to play what is front of them is the ultimate task, as you said there is no one right answer…

Comment by Guy McKim

Finally, a few enlightened ones are getting the picture.
After 14 yrs of boring northern hemisphere rugby’style’ I found rugby league where we never called moves. We played what was in front of us.
We were using dummy runners over 20 yrs ago. Union only grasped that part when it went pro. You only have to watch the backs in particular to see the coaching style. They’ll call a move and no matter what happens in front of them, will aimlessly carry it out with the resulting running into an opposition player. Whenever I coach at a new team I have to break the players of these habits and set up exercises that make them all think,watch each other and the opposition. The players are basically relearning the game.They make so many mistakes at first.Thats OK because the more they make the faster the transition. I prefer to take kids who have never played before, as they have no preconceived ideas or bad habits.

Comment by Peter Evans




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