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The JR Blog

The JR Blog tackles the topics effecting Rugby, with a special interest on the effects they may have on the Junior Rugby world.

Every team will have a problem kid or kids, sometime it’s a different kid each training session. So the best way to deal with this is to have a concrete system that you stick to each time.

Most trouble makers are acting up for the attention of the team and the coach, they usually want you to react and the team to laugh. It’s a game of who will get the attention of the group, you or him/her?

So your best form of reaction is to take the wind out of their sail, if it’s on topic (but a little stupid) agree with them and slightly correct what they said to stay on track. If it is well off track and down right stupid ignore it and keep speaking, but focus on the kids listening.

Here are some simple rules that you can follow to help you make the training session successful and less painful.

1. Set rules early - and stick to them!!!
Make some simple rules for the way the training will be run and what will happen when you are going to give further instructions or game rules.
e.g. “when I have to talk what should you guys/girls do? (be quiet) or add a signal “when I put my hand up I want everyone to be quiet and point at the people talking”

2. Remember they want your attention - give them attention when they follow your instructions and find someone to give attention to when they play up. When they play up resist the temptation to focus on their trouble making, rather look for someone doing something well and focus on them.

3. Yellow cards do work, but only if it is not something the whole team wants to do and is used as a last resort. Use a parent to take the kid away and give the trouble maker something constructive to do for example, pick up cones from an old game or restock the storage room, etc. only for a short while before the kid comes back to the team. Resist sending them on a lap around the field they will only interrupt when they come back and will probably interrupt other teams on their lap.

4. Reinforce when they do something well. Even though you might struggle with the idea of giving the kid any form of compliment because of the constant barrage of interruptions, you will get good pay out of really looking for them in the games and constantly giving the compliments when they do the right thing. Soon that’s what they become accustomed to and all they want.

5. Make sure you have all the games set up so there is little time for the kids to stand around, this is when they will start to loose attention and then it will take you twice as long to get them back. More to the point the troublesome kid will have the undivided attention of the group while you run around and set things up.

6. Speak to the parents. Finally if it is becoming a real problem speak to the parents and explain that they will need to be at the training to look after their kid if things persist. usually the idea of standing around and having to grab their kid out overtime he/she plays up will make them force their hand to bring the kid into line.

So good luck with the attention game, if you stick to a system it will become easier over time.

Have a look at our easy to use Junior Rugby Coaching Manuals

20 Weeks of easy to follow training sessions on your phone or tablet! For less that $20

  • Fun games kids love to play
  • Easy to follow instructions and diagrams
  • Well planned skill game progressions
  • Key teaching points for each game and skill
  • Keep them interested (no more chasing and shouting)
  • Truly improve their game

This will make your life easier! Click Here

 

Jason Grier | Tuesday, August 30, 2016 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The best way to learn any thing is through repetition, the more you do something the greater chance you will master it (hence the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000hrs rule). However repetition has its limitation, especially in the form of boredom!

We all know the feeling of wanting to master something, either a skill in a sport, a musical instrument or even an academic skill. Your intentions are there you want to make it work and you start off 100% an hour, day after day. Until one day you get bored, your desire starts to slip and you take a day off, that day off leads to finding an excuse why not to train the next day and so on.

What’s the answer? Use your imagination and turn the repetitive skill sessions into a challenge, take the focus off the technical completion of the skill and turn it onto the fun of completing the skill.

How can you make passing practice more fun?

Passing practice doesn’t have to be the same old run up and down the field passing to the player next to you. There are many ways that you can make it a challenge and bring out the best in a player.

Firstly lets break the skill down, the pass revolves around the following elements:
  • Identify the target
  • Turn shoulders towards the target
  • Roll the outside hand over in towards the body when passing
  • Keep elbows up when passing
  • follow through towards the target
  • Get hands ready to receive again

These are the very basic elements of the pass and they are a great starting point for developing the games or challenges you can set your players. So lets look at them and work out challenges to help them improve these aspects;

Identify the target - this is easy, lets get the target moving or give them several targets that the coach nominates
Completion of the pass - practice in a competition game, the player to complete the skill correctly the most times wins, the group that completes the skill correctly the most wins etc.
Get hands up ready to receive - have the player under stress of receiving and passing on, increase the speed of the balls to be received and count how many they completed before a mistake, use this as a challenge to beat that score next time

As you can see there are many ways to turn a repetitive skill practice into a fun, challenging session.

How to turn passing into a game

As a kid what is the most fun thing you could do with a rugby ball in the hand, other than run with it? Yep, pass it at someone else. So lets use this in a game sense to challenge the player’s learning skills. Below are a couple of games that help the player to learn;
  • Passing technique
  • Passing at moving targets
  • Patience to pass when the target is in range
  • Evasion

Space Invaders

The aim of this game is for the kids to run down the middle with out getting hit by the ball. The players on the outside have to rugby pass the ball at them to try and hit them below the shoulders. Kids love this game and it helps them to learn all of the above coaching points.

King Ball

This game is another accuracy game that involves the players passing the ball at either other player (moving targets) to get them out or at the balls placed at the back of the square. It also builds a good team work environment.

Up and Pass Drill

This is more an individual based drill in which players are challenged to get off the ground and run to the colour cone called by the coach, then pass a ball at a stationary target. This is very good for 9s.

Jason Grier | Friday, March 27, 2015 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

It’s important that kids learn to tackle in a fun environment to build confidence. So the key is to build the tackling drill into a game and the best game starts with a Bear Hug.

Why does a Bear Hug help a Kid Learn Tackling?

Stop for a minute and think of what a bear hug is. It consists on one person squeezing another tightly, either to stop them from escaping or to lift them off the ground, right? So what does that have to do with a tackle?

Every bear hug holds the secret of a good tackle. In order to do a good bear hug and lift someone off the ground you have to do the following:
1. Get close
2. Get low
3. Squeeze tightly


Now does that sound familiar? They are the basis of a good tackle, the only thing i would add is that the squeeze should be around BOTH legs.

Here’s how you introduce the Bear Hug Tackle into your training session

1. Tell your players to find a partner about the same size and stand facing each other
2. Tell them to put their hands on each others shoulders
3. Explain to them that you will tell them to start and when they here you call start they should try and lift the partner off the ground and the winner will be the one who does it first.

One thing I always include is to tell them they aren’t allowed to lift below the waist. This stops them all going for the legs, which we will talk about later.

Give them the instructions and let them wrestle for a few minutes. Stop them and make them swap partners a couple of times.

Once they have swapped partners a few times then ask them the following reflective questions;
1. Can you Bear Hug someone from far away? The answer should be no.
So where can you Bear Hug someone from? Close should be the answer.
2. To lift them off the ground where should you lift them, from high or low? Answer should be low.
3. How should you squeeze them? The answer should be tight.

By following this process you have introduced the 3 main concepts of an effective tackle, now all you have to do is get them to tackle around the legs.

Bear Hug Tackle Game

After using the Bear Hug to explain the 3 main components of the tackle you have to introduce the concept of doing the same thing around the legs. If you were to tell the kids to go off and start doing that around players legs they will look at you sideways and begin to grab the next players jersey. They still don’t have the confidence to tackle the legs.

Here’s How You Introduce the Leg Tackle

Mark out s small box about 5ms by 5ms, make it small too much space will make it hard for the tacklers. Then explain to them the following rules;

1. No one can go outside the square
2. The game will start with 2 tacklers on their knees who will try to Bear Hug tackle the moving players
3. A Bear Hug tackle consists of a tight squeeze of both legs, causing the moving player to fall to the ground. If the tackle grabs one leg that doesn’t count and the moving player can resume moving.
4. Once a moving player is tackled effectively they join the tacklers on the ground
5. This is repeated until there are no players left standing and then you can start again.

Kids love this game and it is the best way to teach players how to do good leg tackles.

Have a look at our easy to use Junior Rugby Coaching Manuals

20 Weeks of easy to follow training sessions on your phone or tablet! For less that $20

  • Fun games kids love to play
  • Easy to follow instructions and diagrams
  • Well planned skill game progressions
  • Key teaching points for each game and skill
  • Keep them interested (no more chasing and shouting)
  • Truly improve their game

This will make your life easier! Click Here

 

 

Jason Grier | Tuesday, March 24, 2015 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Clean out drill for kids

The clean out is one of the hardest thing to teach young rugby players. Like tackling it is a confidence thing, they just don’t want to stick there head in and drive.

So the question is how do you build their confidence at the break down?

The trick is reducing the distance and padding all the bits that can hurt (i.e. the knees and elbows). The drill shown in these clips is a simple staged ruck situation. The tackle bag represents the tackled player on the ground, it’s needed for them to get used to stepping over the players on the ground.

The drill works as follows;

- Lay a tackle bag on the ground and place some cones under the edges to stop it from rolling around as they step over it.
- Set up some cones about a meter away from the bag on either side.
- Give the players on one side a crash pad and tell them to stand close to the tackle bag.
- Tell the players without the crash pads, their job is to drive over the tackle bag and push the crash pads away.
- On the coaches signal they attempt to clean out with leg drive

As the players understand the concept of the leg drive in the clean out, take the crash pads away and add a ball on one side of the tackle bag. Tell the players the team that can drive past the ball wins, make sure they don’t use their hands (one of the first things they will do when they start to loose).

Coaching points:

- Keep the head up to see where the opponent is
- Get low and drive up
- Make contact with the shoulders
- Take small steps to drive

If you want a full season of games check out one of the manuals below.

Have a look at our easy to use Junior Rugby Coaching Manuals

20 Weeks of easy to follow training sessions on your phone or tablet! For less that $20

  • Fun games kids love to play
  • Easy to follow instructions and diagrams
  • Well planned skill game progressions
  • Key teaching points for each game and skill
  • Keep them interested (no more chasing and shouting)
  • Truly improve their game

This will make your life easier! Click Here

 

Jason Grier | Sunday, October 30, 2011 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Step and palm (fend) warm up - Kids Rugby

To maximise our time at training we should add our skill development into the warm up. Here is a side step and palm off (fend off) drill that allows for larger numbers and will help warm the players up without injury.

Set Up

Establish the number of participants, we really want to have at most 3 players lining up to run at a time. Therefore if you have 20 players you would be looking at setting 5 stations up (remember you will have a crash pad holder, so the groups are 4 players).
- Place a cone for each station about 1 meter apart to reduce the chance of collision.
- Place a crash pad about 4m back from the players with the ball.

Directions

- Tell the players to line up between a cone in groups of 4
- Tell the first player to go and pick up the crash pad and stand at the position of the crash pad.
- Give a ball to each group and explain to the players that the ball carrier will run forward with the ball in 2 hands until he/she reaches the pad, at which time they will choose the side they want to step towards and move the ball under the arm of the hand furtherest away from the pad.
- The ball carrier should attempt to push the pad away with the free hand (closest to the pad) and accelerate using the push to gain more speed.
- after they have completed the step and palm they job back to their group and hand off the ball to the next player. Its best to use 2 balls in each group speed things up.
- Change pad men every couple of minutes.

Coaching Points

- Ball in 2 hands when running
- Transfer the ball away from the contact zone
- Push arm into pad and use the push to accelerate away from the pad

If you are interested in more games and drills have a look at the manuals I have written for young players.

The Beginners Rugby Manual
The Introduction to Contact Rugby
The Introduction to Breakdown and Set Piece Manual  

Jason Grier | Tuesday, October 18, 2011 | Comments (571) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

Side step warm up - Rugby for kids

As a coach it is hard to warm the players up without wasting time! Usually we only have 1-11/2 hours per week to try and train the players. In this time we have to improve their skills and gel them as a team.

Therefore, it is import ant to use our time wisely and the warm up is the perfect time to add basic skill development. It’s well documented now that static warm ups (stretching without movement) aren’t effective as dynamic warm ups (warming up through movement). So lets combine the warm up with skill development, while reducing the contact and chances of injury.

This side stepping and leg drive drill hits that mark. It is designed for larger groups, with a fast turn around participation. It can be set up any where and requires limited equipment. The poles and crash pads can be replaced for cones and simply a defender or coach tagging the player.

Set Up

Establish the number of participants, we really want to have at most 3 players lining up to run at a time. Therefore if you have 20 players you would be looking at setting 5 stations up (remember you will have a crash pad holder, so the groups are 4 players).
- Place a cone for each station about 1 meter apart to reduce the chance of collision.
- Place a pole about 2ms in from the cone
- Place a crash pad another meter back from the pole

Directions

- Tell the players to line up between a cone in groups of 4
- Tell the first player to go and pick up the crash pad and stand at the position of the crash pad.
- Give a ball to each group and explain to the players that the ball carrier will run forward with the ball in 2 hands until he/she reaches the pole, at which time they will choose the side they want to step towards and move the ball under the arm of the hand furtherest away from the pole.
- The ball carrier then must hit the pad and drive the pad back 5 steps. This hit will later be replaced by evading the pad or trying to hit on the edge of the pad so reinforce evasion rather than running into players.
- Tell the pad holder to stand their ground and later you can tell them they can move forward after the ball carrier steps the pole.

Coaching Points

- Ball in 2 hands
- Transfer the ball away from the contact zone
- Drive with the legs through contact

If you are interested in more games and drills have a look at the manuals I have written for young players.

The Beginners Rugby Manual
The Introduction to Contact Rugby
The Introduction to Breakdown and Set Piece Manual  

If you want a full season of games check out one of the manuals below.



Jason Grier | Tuesday, October 04, 2011 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

On the weekend Robbie Deans made a clear decision based on his selection policy which, put simply is to give everyone a chance to impress and then select on form. This selection policy is obviously a process based policy rather than a results policy.

What I am referring to here is the selection of Quade Cooper in the team to play England. In short term this is a huge risk, however, a step forward to the big picture of building a positive culture. All players now know they have a chance to make the team through performance and the best players will be on the field at all times.

Cooper has been knocking on the door for the past weeks and put his hand up in the midweek game against Glouster, where he had a hand in all the points scored. Yes due to injuries the timing might have been right to bring Cooper in, however, it would have been easier to stick to conservative centre pairing.

This decision is based on the long term objective of winning the World Cup. The result went Deans’s way in more ways than one. It puts all players on notice that their position isn’t a given and it gives hope for the fringe players hoping to break into the team.

Is Deans’s obvious focus on the World Cup correct? I suppose the answer comes back to the age old question of process vs results based coaching. Should he concentrate on the results while slowly bleeding players into the team or should he throw results to the wind with the focus of giving all a chance and hoping in the year of the World Cup the players select themselves.

In terms of culture an open selection policy will always create a competitive and vibrant atmosphere. Selection based on reward will also add a positive reinforcement and promote the player buy in factor. At the junior levels this attitude will increase the player desire and enthusiasm to give their best for the team and sooner rather than later the results will start to flow.

I suppose time will tell when the Wallabies face up to their ultimate test at the Rugby World Cup in NZ.Process Vs results based selection

On the weekend Robbie Deans made a clear decision based on his selection policy which, put simply is to give everyone a chance to impress and then select on form. This selection policy is obviously a process based policy rather than a results policy.

What I am referring to here is the selection of Quade Cooper in the team to play England. In short term this is a huge risk, however, a step forward to the big picture of building a positive culture. All players now know they have a chance to make the team through performance and the best players will be on the field at all times.

Cooper has been knocking on the door for the past weeks and put his hand up in the midweek game against Glouster, where he had a hand in all the points scored. Yes due to injuries the timing might have been right to bring Cooper in, however, it would have been easier to stick to conservative centre pairing.

This decision is based on the long term objective of winning the World Cup. The result went Deans’s way in more ways than one. It puts all players on notice that their position isn’t a given and it gives hope for the fringe players hoping to break into the team.

Is Deans’s obvious focus on the World Cup correct? I suppose the answer comes back to the age old question of process vs results based coaching. Should he concentrate on the results while slowly bleeding players into the team or should he throw results to the wind with the focus of giving all a chance and hoping in the year of the World Cup the players select themselves.

In terms of culture an open selection policy will always create a competitive and vibrant atmosphere. Selection based on reward will also add a positive reinforcement and promote the player buy in factor. At the junior levels this attitude will increase the player desire and enthusiasm to give their best for the team and sooner rather than later the results will start to flow.

I suppose time will tell when the Wallabies face up to their ultimate test at the Rugby World Cup in NZ.

Have a look at our easy to use Junior Rugby Coaching Manuals

20 Weeks of easy to follow training sessions on your phone or tablet! For less that $20

  • Fun games kids love to play
  • Easy to follow instructions and diagrams
  • Well planned skill game progressions
  • Key teaching points for each game and skill
  • Keep them interested (no more chasing and shouting)
  • Truly improve their game

This will make your life easier! Click Here

   

Jason Grier | Sunday, November 08, 2009 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

The South African coaching team (Peter De Villiers and co.) have produced a perfect example for all Junior coaches on how good coaching strategy can overcome a team’s weaknesses.

South Africa were crowned the Tri-Nations champions this week and fittingly so. They capped off a tough season with great use of their strengths to over come the best teams in the world. On paper the SA team is solid and powerful, however, lacked a true line breaking combination in the back line.

If you were to do a quick strength and weakness analysis on the Springbok team it would look as follows. Let's begin with the weaknesses.

Center combination lacked flare
The centre combination of Jaque Fourie  and Jean de Villiers  are solid hard running players who can hit the line at pace and defend like demons, however, can’t create a play from nothing.

Lacked a play maker at fly half (10, five eight)
Morné Steyn is very reliable set move executer and has an excellent right foot kicking game, however, he isn’t a Dan Carter or Matt Giteau who can create magic from nothing.

Faulted at the scrum
Although in most games their scrum would hold their own, over the course of the Tri-Nations it did come under fire and was a definite weak link in the armour. It wasn’t reliable enough to build a back line attack off.

Overall their main weakness was a back line that showed little chance of breaking the line in attack. Under the ELVs the back line would have been able to bash their way through the 3rd or 4th phase, however, under the new amended rules their inroads would have been far less advantageous.

On the other hand the Springbok strengths were in far more abundance.

Powerful, physical forward pack
The power the Boks had at the break down was key to their game dominance, they often turned ball over through their ability to stay on their feet and their powerful counter rucking.

4 world class line out jumpers

The line out was formidable winning all their own ball and a large portion of the oppositions ball. Why wouldn’t you be confident to kick when you know there was a good chance of winning the ball back?Lightning fast wingers

Lightning fast wingers
A Bryan Habana led cavalry of lightning fast wingers allowed the Boks to kick the ball behind the opponents and get to it before the counter attack could be structured. Even better the chase was so effective with the high ball that most kicks eventuated in knock ons or an infringement.

A boot that doesn’t miss
The boot of all their goal kickers just didn’t know how to miss even from 55m out. This meant the opponents couldn’t risk infringing even in their own half.

So if you have a powerful, committed forward pack, a back line full of defensive steel, and lightning fast wingers what game plan would you play? Naturally a kick chase game, hinged on powerful defence and physical dominance at the break down, capped with a goal kicking radar.

The only way a team could beat them was to put them on the back foot through quick recycling of the ball at the break down and fast movement of the ball to gaps. The Wallabies showed this in Brisbane and the All Blacks started to work it out in the last quarter at Hamilton.

To the Bok's credit they were clever enough to stop this fast phase play and suffocate the opponents until they made a mistake or the reinforcements arrived. The game plan was a strategic master piece based on a well thought out SWOT analysis.

The moral of the storey is, get to know your player's strengths and weaknesses and develop a game plan that will bring out your strengths. Too often a coach will develop a game plan based on how he wants the team to play even though they aren’t capable of that style.

Jason Grier | Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

There are 3 key areas to a great scrum and they are controlled predominantly by the front row.

1. The engagement
2. The body height
3. The drive

All of these 3 factors are determined by timing. Timing is the key to a successful scrum that wins own ball and creates tight heads (win against the head). It’s important the front row are taught timing from an early age.

A good engagement is the key to establishing a strong base for the scrum. Too often the front row seem to lean against each other, they have no desire to try and out play or control their opponent. Usually because they have heard about how dangerous the engagement can be and they are tentative.

The best way to get around this problem is to make it fun, get them to wrestle each other. Begin with them kneeling in a push up position and on the coaches call they have to engage with the opponent (still on their knees) and try to wrestle him to the ground. Soon you will see they learn the advantages of a good engagement and wrestling for positioning. This is also a safety measure it will increase their strength and body control.

How often do we see a bad engagement followed by poor body height in a junior scrum? Too often teams see the scrum as a rest from the game and end up just binding and leaning. It might be a roll off from bad habits learnt in Rugby League but it can be dangerous.

The best way to get a junior player to understand the concept of low body height is to exaggerate their notion of leaning for a rest. Get the players to simply lean against each other, let them choose how. More than likely they will stand virtually upright, while they are doing this tell them to take a step towards the opponent. This will usually cause them to loose balance and fall to the side or backwards. Now get them to repeat the exercise, however, this time with knees bent and back straight. Again get them to take a step forward and watch the difference in stability. Ask them which was less energy consuming and taxing, the answer will hopefully be the second version.

We know the benefits of low body height, however, often the kids aren’t taught or shown why it really helps them. Hopefully the next time they decide to take a break at the scrum they will realise with low body height they can actually contribute to the scrum and exert less energy.

So you have managed to change the players perception on the engagement and body height, there is one more component that is necessary to win the ball and this is where timing is essential.

In under 19s laws the scrum can only push 1 meter after the ball is fed in. This is a component junior players under use and estimate. A simple, well timed push when the ball is fed in can win own ball and opponent ball very easily and once the ball is at the feet of the second row everyone can relax. Generally the feed in the scrum is pretty poor causing the ball to bounce around and making it hard for the hooker to cleanly strike the ball, this means a good push on the feed is more important. It only needs to be a quick, well timed push as the ball comes in and you have won yours or your opponents ball.

A trick to teach the props about the necessity of calling the ball in is to get them to pack down against a scrum machine or another prop, with their eyes closed and tell them they have to strike for the ball when you tell them to open their eyes. Feed the ball into the scrum and call the ball in, watch them miss the strike. The reason being is naturally their eyes haven’t had time to adjust to coordinate the timing. Now explain to them if they do the same for their hooker he will have little chance winning the ball. This little explanation will work wonders for the communication.

There are plenty technical tricks the front row have to learn, however, I think these are key to Junior scrumaging. Good luck!!!

Jason Grier | Tuesday, September 08, 2009 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink


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