LEARN TO LOVE
Little Dragons, U6 - U8 Age Groups
Any player coming to rugby at this age group has an insatiable appetite for fun and games, falling over getting dirty and leaving with a smile on their face after games and training is the best part of playing rugby! These players are seeing their heroes on TV playing and running with the ball and this is what they should be doing, there is no need for drills and lines! Lots of small sided games and activities are where we will grow a love for the game from this early age that will make them rugby players and supporters for the rest of their lives.
As with our players most Coaches are new to Coaching (usually the last to get over the fence at drop off!) many have played or know Rugby but will be learning how to coach. This is the perfect time to learn and apply the communication, and observation skills all good coaches have while also not putting too much pressure and expectation on themselves, and their players.
Game is Fun
Running with the ball scoring and stopping Tries and having the well-earned treat at the end of a training or game is where these players are at. Learning to love the game is learning that rugby is fun and all players from professional National players all the way down agree Rugby is fun and should be. Just pick up the ball and run forwards!
learn to learn
U9 - U11 Age Groups
Players at this level start to watch rugby, and play rugby with the thoughts of mimicking what they see on the TV. Skate boarders learn to skate in Parks by mimicking their peers and online videos, and as such our rugby players look to do the same with the help of our coaches. The players have a greater understanding of our strange run forward and pass backward and other nuances of our games and can now aim to enjoy the evasion and invasion aspects of Rugby. Movement patterns, tackle, and set piece techniques can be dialed in for safety while they look to expand their rugby skillset with and without the ball.
They same way a carpenter has a tool belt so do we as coaches, and it is now we can guide our players through their rugby journey by using the right tool at the right time. Dialing down the chaos of a session to teach contact skills and set piece safely while dialing back up the chaos of the rugby game to enable the players to use their newly acquired skills and decision making are where our coaches can see maximum learning and guidance occur.
The field is bigger as are our players and so to is the game at this stage, the game whilst still modified resembles a game of rugby more and more and allows the players to explore their abilities in a safe and fun environment while also allowing individual and team improvement and learning.
learn to play
U12 - U14 Age Groups
This is a key age group in players development as players are beginning to grow and position specific skills come into their development. Having said that players will still need the fundamental building blocks (core skills in tackling, passing, evasion and continuity) and for their rugby development. This will enable players to play any position as their physical development occurs. Players start to use the top 3 inches as technical and tactical decisions are made during training and game time, and they should be allowed to explore these decisions both at training and on game day.
While still encouraging the players and the development of the core 4 the coach also the questions decision making point in training individually and as a team. Using the pause and question technique during training sessions and training games allows the players to learn with the human whiteboard rather than trying to remember back when in a group post the activity. What, Why, How, Where are great starts to player coach conversations.
The weekend game is now played with coaches and players alike looking for transferable learnings from the weeks training into game situations. Coaches look to identify learning situations and also challenge themselves to be better at observing and having conversations with their players at appropriate times, Pre game half time post game, aim not to have 1meter conversations over 80m with your players, let them play.
learn to perform
U15 - U18 Age Groups, Colts & Grades
The players are now at an age where physicality is not the be all and end all successful rugby. Tactical decisions have great bearing on games and phase play. This is where we can see the players experiment with these new and unlimited ways to manipulate defenses and attacks through game based decision making and team coherence to game plans etc.. Individually players are slotting into position specific play and skills however the core 4 remains a constant work on throughout their individual development.
Coaches are now looking back and looking forward and refining the above mentioned tactical and technical play for their players as they talk more as a team around performance morse so than outcomes. Good performances do not mean winning, but it means steppingstone on past performances and the ability to improve in all areas. Players are again questioned on decision, and skill execution and how that affected the outcome, and therefore performance.
The game is now testing the players ability to make rugby decisions with an outcome in mind, be that in situ as well as the time, territory, tactical and result being taken into account in equal measures. Players and coaches understand the importance of all aspects of the game and again improvement in each will lead to but not guarantee positive results on the scoreboard.
Colts, Grades, Premier Rugby
The player is now able to assess and self-coach as the game occurs and their abilities enable them to perform at speed under pressure and under fatigue in competition. Players enjoy the challenge the pressure of result-based competition brings and looks to improve and refine these competition skills. Their relationship with their coaches forms individual and team feedback opportunities as well as self-reflection of game-based decisions.
Coach Prepares and Reflects
The coach here is in a competitive environment where they are constantly refining individual, unit, and team game plans to reflect the performance from the last game and to prepare for the upcoming game. Physical, and tactical periodization comes into their planning and their ability to influence on training sessions take priority over game day opportunities.
This is high performance rugby where the game put the players abilities to the test. It holds both player and Coach accountable for past learning and highlights areas for future endeavor. While often the ultimate test of the players development so far it is still a game and one that has a base of intrinsic (internal) enjoyment for both player and coach and their ability to perform under pressure.
Golden Oldies, Volunteers and Referees
Player Gives Back
Players now find themselves taking the opportunity to play/coach alongside younger players, in turn guiding them on their rugby journey. Be that as a young and learning parent coaching an under 6 team, as they play down the levels of their club helping players on their journey up through the ranks, to joining the referees association, or their clubs’ committees. Their ability to mirror their good coaching experiences and correct the bad becomes important as the start to give back to the game they love, in many forms.
Many coaches will now start to mentor new coaches, or even flow up the levels of coaching, or dial back their coaching to younger grades, often realizing the importance of development and fun in the earlier years. Mentoring young or aspiring coaches is about their journey and another way we are creating a better game for both those coaches and their players.
Game Improves and Expands
Our game now becomes bigger with people enjoying the sidelines, working for the betterment of the game of rugby itself. Giving back through individuals knowledge and time is where the circle of rugby evolves and as we work toward better rugby people rugby becomes better.