Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


Keep the players interested by David Clarke

Here is a good demonstration of how a coach keeps players interested.

The drill itself is easily adapted to rugby training, and could be used for rugby handling, rugby warm ups or rugby footwork.

Better Rugby Coaching

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Lessons from top soccer manager Alex Ferguson by David Clarke
October 1, 2010, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

[Taken from our sister site, Better Soccer Coaching)

dave clarkeSir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, sees four main characteristics that make a good coach.

  • Observation
  • Perseverance
  • Imagination
  • Communication

Ferguson says that observation is vital – if you are too involved you miss a lot of things. It is a good idea to stand back sometimes and watch someone else coach while you observe the players.

He says you need perseverance because coaching is not easy and you have to come back after a defeat full of confidence for the next game. “You have to keep the fire in your belly,” confirms Ferguson.

Imagination is important because when you are asked what was your best ever goal as a coach you want to identify a perfect goal that you influenced. This is down to your imagination and how you get things across to the players in your training sessions. As a young coach Ferguson thought up creative ways of coaching to inspire his players. “you create a chain reaction which produces thinking players and this is a wonderful thing to develop” he says.

And simple communication is vital. Ferguson believes making it clear what you are after in a coaching session should be top of a coach’s list. “You see those training sessions where the coach is talking all the time and the message is lost – the words get lost in the wind.”

The players want to get on with it so don’t ramble on. “Talking too much is a big danger for a coach.”

Watch this clip of Sir Alex when he was inspiring Aberdeen in the 80s to winning everything in Scotland against all odds. Listen to what he has to say about being an inspiring manager:

Better Rugby Coaching



Cheer up and remember why you are doing it by David Clarke
September 15, 2010, 10:02 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management, Rugby Training | Tags: , , ,

Actually, there is nothing worse than someone saying: “Smile, it could be worse”, or “Cheer up!”

If you are in a mood, you are in a mood.

Unfortunately, when you are coaching a team, your persona affects the players. They certainly won’t be cheerier if you are grumpy.

Does that mean you have to be the life and soul of the training? YES IT DOES. Your energy is infectious.

Here are three ways to scrumple up that mood and kick it into touch before training begins.

1. You are about to change peoples lives. Relish that achievement.
2. You have spent all this time putting yourself into a position to coach better, why waste it? Seize the moment.
3. Smile and shake the hands of at least the first three people you meet. They will make you smile inside!

Mark Twain said:
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Better Rugby Coaching



Day 22 of August pre season training tips: our team by David Clarke

August 22

Our team

Pre season is a good time to bond the team as a unit. Here are five ways you can do this.

1. Put players into groups of three or four training buddies. They can encourage each other to turn up, warm up and look after each other off the field. One of the players could be a senior player and another new player.
2. Outline your principles from the start of pre season, and then reiterate them throughout the pre season period. Keep your behaviour to your principles and so keep consistency.
3. Let the players add a principle a week, which is realistic. For instance, turning up on time or being ready for training. Remind them of the principles each week.
4. Set targets for the “way we play” rather than winning or losing. Players can control improvements in strength, speed and skill, but not whether the opposition are any good or not.
5. Be clear when players need to switch onto training hard, be more light hearted or rest. The players can work together to increase the intensity when they need to increase it, and you need not have to shout at them to do so.

Better Rugby Coaching



Motivational video by David Clarke

Gary Gold, the Springboks and Sharks assistant coach, has always been great at posting superb rugby resources. Here is another. Not sure if we could do this speech each week though!

Better Rugby Coaching



100 Q&A: How can I get the pre match talk just right? by David Clarke

lions team talk
In response to a question on the Better Rugby Coaching forum, The Huddle, here are five top tips on “talking the talking” so the players can “walk the walk” onto the pitch for the game.

1. Speak from the heart

You must be convinced in what you are saying if you are going to convince the players. Anything you say must be said with uttter belief. This will come across in your body language, tone of voice and facial expression.

2. Speak about the here and now

Your team talk needs to focus on what happens next. It keeps the players in the present, concentrating on the tasks in hand. Don’t become focus on two weeks’ time or the end of the season, think about what needs to be achieved in the 80 minutes.

3. Focus on what you do well, not on your weaknesses

Build the players up with their strengths. Say how they can exploit these strengths in the game. It is also an idea to focus on a more mechanical aspect of the game where it is easy to see progress – say tackling. “We are going to knock them back in the tackle, not let them move without one of us on top of them.”

4. Speak to the individual when addressing the team

All the players will have dominant goals which they focus on more than other things in the game. It might be the team, winning or enjoyment. In your team talk mention all these aspects, within a logical plan. This helps each player put himself in the context of the game.

5. Be a modified self

Some of us are louder than others, some more reserved. If we go to an extreme, we lose sense of what we personally stand for. Let your team talk be just that. A talk. Not a whisper, not a shout. It doesn’t need to be long, or even that eloquent. Your personal passion will be enough. And remember it is the players who are taking the pitch not you. You don’t need to be fired up. You don’t need to talk about “you”, you need to talk about them.

Better Rugby Coaching



No more empty words by David Clarke
February 4, 2009, 3:23 pm
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , ,

I am bombarded with quotations on how to motivate players and coaches. Some work for me and others seem like a clever way of something that does not mean much.

Sometimes you have to read the line several times to see what it really means and then look at who wrote it.

Here is one such quote:

“People will rise to a challenge if it is their challenge”

It was said by Wayne Smith, the All Black backs coach. That gives it weight in the first place, but what of the meaning?

Rising to the challenge is motivational. A target set and a player striving to get there.

The key here is the word “their”, in terms of “their challenge”. It means taking ownership of what they want to acheive. They have either agreed with their coach or mentor what the challenge is, or set it themselves. Empowerment leads to responsibility and greater awareness of the goal. It should be more powerful.

No empty words, and real action should follow.