Archive for January, 2008


Handling Losing As A Rugby Coach

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With such a huge emphasis on winning at the elite level, what happens to the coaches that lose?

Trying to balance ‘striving for success’ against the ‘inevitability of losing’ is something that all coaches have to deal with and whatever level of rugby you coach, ‘how you handle losing’ say’s a great deal about your character.

Chris Anderson, who is one of Australian Rugby League’s elite coaches said

“You have to treat winning and losing in exactly the same way….. because for the average coach, you spend 40% of your time getting beat!”

and I for one have to agree with him. He also said,

“After a loss, the first place you have to look is yourself”

Perhaps there was something you could have done better during the week or was there something in your game plan you would have changed?

All these self assessment questions show the strength of character of the elite coaches. But these same questions are to be asked whatever level of rugby you coach.

The point Chris was making for me, is that win or lose, as long as you look at the reasons for the loss objectively and try to improve week after week then you’re always going to be the best you can be.

Now if that means you’re getting beat week after week but your players and yourself as a coach continue to improve then it’s only a matter of time before you ‘taste victory’.

Personally I think it’s unfair when coaches are judged solely on winning and losing as there are a number of factors which should be taken into consideration. In fact if winning or losing a competion is the only way a coach is judged then there’s going to be a whole heap of coaches looking for employment at the end of the season!

Therefore from a coaches point of view, as long as the players give 100% and the team is improving then I would say that’s a job well done.

I think Wayne Pierce the former NSW State of Origin coach said it best when he said,

“A coach should be judged on whether the individuals have improved and whether the team has improved”

Losing Streak

Even the elite coaches find themselves having a losing run but the difference is that these coaches stay 100% positive and this transfers to the players and the team. If you believe wholehartidly that your systems are good and you have the right squad of players then the great coach will press on taking one game at a time and focusing totally on obtaining that win.

To Summerize Handling Losing

  • Allow players to fail and make mistakes with a view to learning from them
  • Always be 100% positive
  • Be patient
  • Your focus should be the long term success and player development

Neil Harmon

Categories : General
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What Makes A Good Coach A Great Coach

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Throughout my professional career, I came across a number of coaches who all had different styles and ideas on how to coach a professional rugby team.

At the elite level in any sport, there is a very small percentage between the top clubs and any team can beat another on the day. Therefore the question is,

“What makes a good coach a great coach?”

Most coaches would possess one or two of the following,

  • A good set of tactics
  • Good man management skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Be able to handle the club politics

In my experience the best rugby coaches I’ve played under ticked ALL the boxes and if I was to probe a little deeper, I would say the two main aspects of a great coach is his/her man management and communication skills.

A great rugby coach is able to explain to their players on an indivdual and group basis what their aims and objectives are both on and off the field.

When I first started my professional career back in 1986, the coaching styles were totally different to what they are today.

The coaches who used to rant and rave and intimidate players woudn’t survive at the elite level of the modern game. The elite coaches of today get to know their players. They talk to them and try to get to understand them, very much like a father figure. Obviously the coaches who are poor in this area tend to struggle.

Another point that I observed, especially late in my career is that the great coaches had the ability to change direction and challenge the status quo depending on whether things were or were not working or if they needed improving. These types of coaches just seemed to be 100% focused on success and this was often in corrolation to the many hours they spent at the club.

In Summary – Being A Great Coach Involves:-

  1. Having good man management skills
  2. Being a good communicator
  3. Caring for players individual needs
  4. Having good tactical skills
  5. Having a sustained focus on success.

Neil Harmon

Categories : General
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