How to decide when to cancel training
By Dan Cottrell, head coach of Better Rugby Coaching and coaching e–magazine Rugby Coach Weekly.
Consider the pros and cons of training in wet weather before you make the decision to cancel training.
You want players to come back next week. If they are cold and wet from a previous session they may not be motivated to return and parents might be influenced by a wet player and muddy kit.
Players cannot catch a slippery ball. Contact skills are also compromised by wet weather because players lose their footing.
Groundsmen will tell you the damage done to pitches in wet weather can take a long time to recover from because it is not prime growing season during the rugby months.
You can make wet weather sessions fun and build team spirit. Kids love mud and it can be an excuse to move away from a mundane training session and try something completely different.
You have to play in the rain, so practise the skills you need. Players get to understand the limits of what they can do. If you are going to train in the rain, stick to the S–S–S plan: Short, Sharp, Scarper.
Coach players to fall correctly
By Ian Diddams, RFU coach tutor with over 20 years experience in coaching at grassroots level.
Minis coaches spend much of their time teaching young players the art of tackling – but there are always two sides to every tackle.
The attacker should be maximising his chances of retaining the ball, this requires good falling and presentation skills.
While holding the ball in two hands from a standing position, players fall on command to the ground absorbing the impact with their knees, hips and shoulders while preventing the ball from hitting the ground.
They should tuck the elbows in to prevent jarring.
As they fall, ensure they end up facing their own team mates in order to present the ball cleanly.
Build up speed from standing to walking, to jogging and finally to running. Emphasise the need to absorb the fall to keep the ball.
Strengthen your position before contact
A strong body position at the contact situation allows the player to exert the “maximum shove”. The principles remain the same for scrums, rucks or mauls. This session concentrates on the moments just before contact, highlighting the need to be in position quickly and efficiently.
Tell your players the purpose of this session is…
Getting into a strong body position just before contact.
Bending at the hips and knees with the head in neutral position for “maximum shove”.
1. Start by…
Correct body positions
The player stands straight, neck neutral. He bends at the hips, then the knees.
2. And then…
Maximum shove in contact
Each pair works for 30 seconds. One player hits alternate bags six times whilst the other passes.
They then swap.The reason for two simultaneous activities is…
Keeps mind alert by switching from ball skill to physical test.
Replicates game situation.
Decision–making becomes more difficult as tiredness creeps in, again replicating game situation.
3. The game…
Maximum shove game
4 players attack 3 defenders. They attack one way, then the other if they score a try or fail.
Things to think about…
How near to the contact situation should players get before bending?
It is better to bend early to avoid being too high before the contact situation. Sometimes players can touch both hands on the ground, which helps them “square up.” However, the player needs to be balanced so he can react to the changing contact situation in front of him.
How quickly should a player approach the contact situation?
Avoid long run–ups to the contact situation in training because this rarely happens in the game. Players are better off slowing down and using leg drive from a strong position to create go–forward at the contact. It is better to be accurate rather than quick.
6 powerful exercises for a more forceful team
Rugby requires the execution of skill in motion, and almost all of these motions become more effective when executed with more force in less time. Power may be described as the optimal combination of speed and strength to produce a dynamic rugby movement such as a ferocious tackle or a great offload.
Power exercises must involve a rapid initiation of force production – even if the load is heavy, your aim is still to perform the movement quickly.
Systems of Power Training
Power training is characterised by long recovery periods (3 – 10 minutes) between sets of exercises to allow for the replenishment of the anaerobic energy (phosphocreatine).
Your major training options for power development are:
Power Speed Sled – towing a weighted sled over short distances
Weighted Vest – accelerating and jumping drills while carrying an extra weight created by the vest.
Medicine Balls – explosive throws with medicine balls weighing between 1–10kg
Power Speed Resistor – partner resisted drills using a harness
Plyometrics – see below
Olympic lifting – see below. Just treat the word Olympic as “power!”
Olympic lifts are multi–joint exercises that involve all major muscle groups, similar to most rugby movements. More players and coaches are turning to the Olympic lifts and their variations to enhance power. They are ground–based exercises so you have to exert force against the ground, which is specific to rugby.
When performed correctly, these exercises constitute one of the best ways to develop power, which successfully transfers to rugby. By their nature, all Olympic style lifts provoke a high power output as they allow you to move a relatively heavy weight at a high speed.
Fact file: Extremely high power outputs are generated during Olympic lifts.
Plyometrics are jumps or combinations of jumps that produce quick, powerful movement using a stretch reflex. A stretch reflex occurs when a muscle lengthens (stretches) and then immediately shortens – the reflex action occurs when the muscle changes from the lengthening to the shortening action. These drills are a specific training mode for rugby because the movements replicate the game’s mixture of vertical and horizontal acceleration against the ground and the triple extension of the ankle, knee, and hip joints. Plyometric drills enhance power, speed, and agility.
Plyometrics may be introduced only after you have successfully completed a core stabilization and strength phase of training. So that these drills will also help to prevent ankle and knee injuries, multidirectional movements are incorporated to reflect the multidirectional nature of rugby. These drills have a strong proprioceptive component (they challenge balance and the self–awareness of muscles and joints) and positively affect agility, coordination, and stability strength.
Top tip: More players and coaches are turning to the Olympic lifts and their variations to enhance power.
Play to attack from a midfield scrum
This move is an excellent play to attack from a midfield scrum, this can occur when the opposition have made a kick off error. I can clearly remember my U18 school team using this to great effect to score the winning try against an unbeaten side. I think you will find some success with it too…
A scrum in the middle of the pitch. Normally this happens when an opposition kick off goes straight out or does not go 10 metres.
Why it works
The play goes right. Since the opposition 9 normally stands on the left of your scrum, he is taken out of the game.
Since there is plenty of room either side of the scrum, stacking the backs on one side forces the opposition to match up.
If it is well executed, even if the opposition spreads their defence evenly, a strong running 15 can cause a lot of damage.
Good if you have
A good scrum.
A 12 or 13 with a good long pass from left to right.
A strong running 15 who likes to attack from deep.
What players should do
10 takes the ball standing still and runs sideways towards 12. He passes to 12 who is running the other way.
12 runs in the opposite direction to 10 to take the switch pass. He then passes across to 15.
15 starts behind the scrum and runs on a wide angle to his right to take the pass from 12.
14 stays wide to keep his opposite man occupied.
10 takes the ball up too far, allowing the opposition 9 to intercept the pass.
10 and 12 don’t switch early enough, allowing time for the opposition back row to get in between the passes.
12 does not pass the ball far enough in front of 15. He needs to draw the receiver onto the pass.
12 cross kicking for 14.
15 and 14 performing a switch pass.
“Jonah Lomu was a giant of a man who leaves a giant space in world rugby. He will forever be a big part of rugby’s story”
Bernard Lapasset, World Rugby chairman.