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Games Not Drills - Junior Rugby Coaching

Why use games and not drills to coach junior rugby teams?

Firstly one of the major truths we as coaches have to face is that kids are playing for fun. If a kid isn't having fun they will stop playing or begin to resent the sport, regardless of how much coaxing the parent may resort to. Therefore, with this in mind why don't we take a different tact and convert fun games kids enjoy into games that can develop their rugby skills.

Secondly, kids aren't elite or professional sport stars yet and they shouldn't be treated like one. Don't get me wrong they should have all the respect of a future star without the pressure and repetition. Too often junior coaches are stuck for coaching sessions so they resort to hitting the net to find drills they think will help train their players. Unfortunately they run into a barrage of, often very good, senior skills drills for professional or semi professional players. The coach then thinks by reducing the intensity the young player will improve their game. Unfortunately it doesn't always work like that, in fact mostly it only leads to turning kids off or reducing their confidence level because they can't understand why they make so many mistakes.

So what can we do?

Here are some natural traits of kids that we can use to develop a good understanding of how to coach them rugby.

- Kids have short concentration spans. Depending on the activity, we all know kids have a lot shorter attention spans than an adult, so take this into concentration when setting you coaching session up.

- Kids are naturally competitive. It's natural for kids to turn most games into some sort of competition, whether it's a race or a rumble they are always looking for an outcome. Controlled competitive aspects are good to add in to the games you choose to coach the kids with. They want to have a purpose for the game and usually that is a winning outcome. However, it has to be noted that if a player is getting beaten constantly it can reduce their confidence and in turn they enjoyment. So the coach has to keep an eye on the ability levels of the players and bring in rules that can even or level out the "playing field".

- Kids need breaks. Try and work with games that are short and clear to understand. A long winded game can, again, bored the kids into loss of concentration. The best alternative is to make the games short and in the breaks between a new game give them a quick coaching tip (I did say "a" tip, meaning only one per break). This needs to be pertinent to the skill you are trying to teach them and related to when you would use it in the game.

- Kids love variety. Here is the opportunity for the die hard drill coaches struggling to shrug the drills out of the coaching session. Try and combine a game followed by a closed skill drill ( no variables in the drill) followed again by a game. The drill needs to be relevant again to the game or the skill you are trying to improve.

Here are a number of game styles kids enjoy playing.
- Chasing
- Throwing - especially rugby balls at each other
- Kicking - especially rugby balls at each other
- Rumbling
- Evasion

Where to now?

Well now you have a few tips about what kids enjoy and their natural traits it's up to you to go to work and design games that will use this information. It's your chance to delve back into your childhood and think of the games you enjoyed playing and then try and adapt them to include a rugby skill. Good luck.  

 

Natural traits of kids

- short concentration spans

- Naturally competitive

- Need breaks

- Love variety

Game styles kids enjoy playing.

- Chasing

- Throwing - especially rugby balls at each other

- Kicking - especially rugby balls at each other

- Rumbling

- Evasion

 

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