How to approach the weekend rugby fixture
Nerves, there’s sometimes no hiding them. Even if you are the world’s most confident man, there will no doubt be something that puts you off your game. Same goes for rugby players and coaches. Imagine what it must be like for Junior rugby players entering a grand final in front of a packed stadium as the curtain raiser to a local professional match? You think it’s a pretty big deal for them? How are you going to ensure they approach the weekend rugby with the correct attitude and outlook? Read on to learn three simple ways to coach your team on how to prepare for the upcoming weekend rugby fixture.
1. Trust the Preparation
It’s the age old saying, “trust the systems and patterns we have prepared for you.” Every coach must have said this line at least a hundred times in a season, and if you’re not, there’s your first piece of advice. What is really important in this day and age of rugby coaching is explaining things to your team in a way they can understand. By yelling at a player “trust the preparation,” what kind of outcome do you think this will achieve – certainly not the right one.
It’s all about positive reinforcement and getting your players to think like you, the mastermind rugby coach. If you can get them all on the same page and believing in the fact that they have the preparation in place to win, then they should win – providing they maintain the belief throughout the performance. It’s also simple things like getting things right at training, implementing the game plan, focusing on moments in a rugby game not the entire thing at once, and worrying about your own game, not what the opposition are doing.
This is probably one of the most popular pieces of advice to give to your players when approaching the weekend rugby and it comes down to managing time as well – trust the preparation.
2. Try not to get caught up in the hype
Again, a classic piece of advice, but one that so many overlook. Allowing those pre-game nerves to get to you is common, however you’ll never truly understand what it’s like to go into a match confident if you let it get the better of you.
Reverting back to that grand final analogy from earlier – when I was younger, I played many a curtain raiser for the professional matches later on in the evening. It was almost considered a rite of passage. You could mix it with the professional players, walk around the stadium, enter the pitch to get the real feeling and generally take in the wonder of what’s to come.
Now think, how do we control and influence what that player is thinking? What if deep down, that player is wondering how they are going to get out of this match alive, what if there’s no confidence? Nowadays I ask all my players to relax. Yes, take in the environment and understand what’s on the line, but stay in tune with what we have prepared for. Trust the prearations, relax and go out and do what we do best – play our own rugby and not worry about the opposition.
3. Enjoy the occasion with your teammates
What’s the point in playing and/or coaching rugby if you don’t enjoy it. The last piece of advice I was ever given as an emerging player was to enjoy my footy. No matter if you’re coaching the U12’s or the All Blacks, it is essential to have fun. When approaching the weekend rugby and having discussed the above points, I find it a very positive note to leave the team on when mentioning to have fun.
Using the Game Plan, the tactics and the rugby skills; we have taught the players in the lead up to the weekend rugby, it is essential we remind them why they play rugby.
In conclusion, approaching the weekend rugby is completely and utterly mental. It is really important you take things back to basic when conversing with your players and remind them of this fact, but in a way that best communicates to the group. You must be the judge of this. Encouraging the players to trust the preparation is all about giving them the confidence to play the style of rugby you have been trying to coach, so go for gold with enforcing this piece of advice. Having convinced them that our style of play works, let’s not get too caught up in the hype of the weekend rugby fixture, just play our game and the score will take care of itself. And finally, make sure they enjoy it, nothing could be more important no matter what age grade or skill level. If you’re ever looking for any points of advice surrounding rugby coach development, click here
We would like to hear your thoughts. Have you any other pieces of advice or pearls of wisdom to contribute to our audience of rugby coaches around the world? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.
Yours in rugby,
Sam Lindsay is the Director at Global Rugby, a website that provides Rugby Coaches, Clubs and Schools with rugby training and coaching videos. You can connect with Sam on Google +, Facebook and LinkedIn or click through to check out some other great articles in the Global Rugby News section.