Last Updated on Saturday, 12 February 2011 14:04
Let's face it, you are appointed as the trainer and are there to coach rugby. Your task is to work with your players. Right ? Wrong ! You are many more things. In order to get the thing happening on the field, you will have to do lots of things off the field too. Coaching is more about getting organised and stay in control than anything else. Here is a list of things I have been involved with in the past:
- Agree on a rugby philosophy to base all your work on.
- Develop a game plan
- Set-up a Plan for the season
- Plan training sessions accordingly
- Select players for the teams, team building
- Set up individual programs for players, based on their individual needs.
- Attend club committee meetings
- Discuss the fixture list, work closely with the match secretary
- Work on team spirit
- Talk to players individually
- Work out the sponsor plan
- .... (yes, sometimes it takes me an hour to get through the clubhouse)
Most important of all you are responsible for the atmosphere or climate in which everything takes places. I think it is my task to set the tone of how we all we all work together. Here are some examples so you get the idea:
- Work hard or stay away.
- Injured? Not playing this weekend and special training programs (no miraculous recoveries in two days!)
- If we do runs in a fitness session I expect everybody doing the same amount of runs, even the heavy weights.
- You do not have to apologize for making mistakes (we all work hard remember...)
- No cursing or yelling at each other
- Be honest
- Have fun
Realize that you have to be careful or you drive yourself crazy. For instant, At R.C. Delft I limited the number of players I was closely involved with to the top five or six, the others players are divided over two other trainers and my teammanager. When you focus on this nucleus of five - six and you make sure they are fit, both mentally and physically, they will push (or pull) the others. Building a coaching team for this tasks is also an important role.
This is basically the Johan Cruijff method. Focus on a core of good players and create a good team and staff around them.
How do you manage a club?
Let me tell you how I used to set up the organization at R.C. Hilversum. At R.C.H. we had three teams playing in the competition. We trained two times a week, on Tuesday and Thursday. On the Tuesday we focused on individual skills, the Tuesday was for unit and team skills. To organize this I used the following schedule:
At R.C.H. I was lucky to work with four former internationals who stopped playing themselves but who I could use for training, like Chris Schröder, former National team fly-half, and Rob Brouwer for a session with the backs. As you can see in this case Chris or Rob would be working with the backs of the third team, then the second and be finishing with the session for the first at nine. In another example I would ask Rob Boske, former hooker of the National Team to work with the front five.
This system has the following advantages:
- A trainer already did his session two times when he starts with the first string players.
- The trainers have a clear view on how all the players in the club perform.
- The players become more competitive, they feel they can prove themselves.
- Former top players can be brought into training, they can focus on what there good at. (In my example above, Rob Brouwer even made it to Backs Coach of the National Coach)
- First team players can come early and do extra work like goal kicking or weight training.
- I used to do the teams session, what allowed me to observe most of the other sessions.
Of course you can have the second and first work together, for example to give the scrum live opposition. All there is left to do is make a planning of all the things you would like to do and the assign the different assistants to the specific sessions. This system was introduced at Bath R.F.C during Jack Rowell's coaching days and I used it successfully at Hilversum.
How do you plan the assistant trainers?
As with Clive Woodward, you have lots of people to help you with the development of the team: an assistant coach, a defensive coach, a kicking coach, a fitness advisor, a scrumming coach, a throwing coach, a visual awareness coach, a video analyst, a doctor, two physiotherapists, a masseur and a teammanager.
Perhaps this website can be that assistant coach. Lots of the work these 'other' coaches do, motivation, goalsetting, fitness, mental training, teambuilding, nutrition, you can easily do yourself. It is all on display on this website, the web being an excellent way to share ideas and experiences.
You can build your own coaching team on the basis that you are overall responsible you can ask others to assist you. Careful planning, discussions on what you want to achieve are important. Approach people like retired players or old coaches or even coaches from other clubs. How to plan? There are several starting points:
- Their availability
- The competition program of the team
You have to find out how much time each individual assistant trainer can out in. For the Tuesday you need three trainers (you and two assistants). Also look at it this from this perspectieve: "Do you want tohelp me choaching the forwards next season"or "I need you to coach the forwards two nights a month, next season"
The competition program of the team
If I knew that we would play a strong scrummaging team the upcoming weekend I prepared for this by inviting Rob Boske. Rob was only available two sessions per month and I could then work around that.
Based on the targets you and the team have set you need to look at the schedule and the qualitiy of the opposition. What are the Must Win games and how do you win them?
Communication is everything
I had a sort of macro planning three months ahead, every assistant trainer knew which Tuesdays they were needed. On the Monday I planned the session for that week, put it on the post or fax and everybody was ready for the evening. Every now and then we had an evaluation meeting with all the trainers.
Depth of the individual program
With so much knowledge of rugby around me I only had to provide the organizational framework around the particular sessions. Remind Rob to relax the players between intervals, give him the scummiging key words just to focus him on the didactics.
This is the most important of all things. Explain everybody what you want to achieve, publish a season calendar, involve the players in the selection process. I publish a small bulletin each week telling the players where and when they play, which position, etc. It also gives me a change to tell something each week.
You have to get organized if you want to do a good job. Make clear what you want from the match secretary and the team manager. Be prepared. I always have a little note book with me. This is my week schedule:
- Evaluate your monthly program, see if you need to adjust.
- Plan the training sessions in detail for the week; scan and email them.
- Get in touch with the players who are injured. Make a plan.
- Training at the club.
- Discussions with players and other coaches
- Work on the theoretical side of things, read books, watch video.
- Training at the club
- Make the roster for the game on Saturday
- Game day, get in early, discuss the roster.
- Get the team ready for the game.
As coach of the Under 19s I do not underestimate the role of the parents! During the season I brought the parents together and discuss what I wanted to achieve with the team and their role in this. A fantastic evening!
(Look at the "Coaching Youth Sports" site for more information).