Archive for November, 2008


Rugby Tips – General Q&A

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rugby_pictogramQ.   I have a large squad of players to pick from each week and I really struggle when I have to drop someone. What’s your advice on how I can make this easier.

I’m afraid there’s no magic bullet when it comes to dropping players as its part and parcel of a coach’s job to drop players who are not performing.

What I will say, is in my experience as a professional rugby player, the best coaches I’ve played under where the ones who seemed to handle this part of the job exceptionally well. There is no easy way to tell a player they are being dropped as everyone that’s part of a team wants to be playing in their team every week otherwise they shouldn’t be in there in the first place but the best way is to be up front and honest with the player.

Take them to one side and explain your reasons for not selecting them and ALWAYS give them something to work on that you think they need to improve in their game. I say this because although some players might not agree with you and there’s nothing worse than being dropped for a match without the coach explaining WHY.

A large part of coaching is about man management which I wrote about a few months ago on my blog “What makes a good coach a great coach” and if you can learn to talk to players and explain what they need to improve on to put them back in contention, then you’ve a good chance of that player going away hungry to improve and prove they are worth another shot.

To summarize,

•    Be honest with your players
•    Give them feedback on what they need to improve to get back in.

Q.   What would you say is the ‘best quality’ a rugby coach should have?

There are a number of qualities that a good coach should possess but if I had to pick one, I would say it’s the ability to manage people.

Throughout sport most of the elite coaches are excellent man managers. There are hundreds of exceptional technical coaches who know the game of rugby inside out but I think the factor that separates them from the elite rugby coaches is their ability to understand and manage players. They just seem to know which motivational methods players respond to and what the key factors are in bringing out the best in their squad.

Q.   “What’s the single most important lesson you’ve learned”

This is a difficult one as there’s been so many but I would have to say the most important lesson I’ve learned is that ‘the more you know, the more know you don’t know’. In other words you never stop learning and never assume your way is the only way.

Q.   “What’s it like to play at the elite level and be one of the best in your field at what you do?”

I can only speak as a professional rugby player, not as a coach as I’ve only been coaching for 2 years as opposed to a 19 year professional playing career which I can only describe as awesome.

To be paid for doing something that you love has to be one of the best experiences in your life. I was also fortunate enough to play for Great Britain and Ireland and visit several countries playing rugby league.

However, I wasn’t the most gifted of players that was blessed with natural skill and fitness. I had to work extremely hard to achieve what I did and one of the things that I learned from my playing days that I’m taking into my coaching career, is that whether you win or lose as long as you learn something from each game then you’ll actually win in the long run.

So as a player or a coach, after every game, ask yourself;

•    What did I do well
•    What can I improve on for next week
•    Take action and do it 🙂

Categories : Rugby Tips
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