Coaching junior rugby can be a rewarding experience, giving young players an appetite for the game and a learning of the basics to succeed. As it may seem a daunting task for new coaches to begin , it’s important to focus step by step, with an emphasis on teaching the basics thorough ally. This can be beneficial to players development and give them a better platform for the future.
There are some key elements to consider when teaching the game, and if done correctly, can bring success in training and on the field of play
Demonstrating the basics correctly is very important as players will carry these skills throughout their playing career.
- Keep things simple for younger players (5-9 years), with an emphasis on learning basic skills such as handling, passing and running. Teach players to run and pass with two hands along with placing the ball.
- Focus on building key skills over the season, repeating these at training every week so players can develop better and keep fresh in the mind.
- Make skills and learning the basics fun and enjoyable, so that younger players don’t get distracted and bored. Put energy into the basics, creating a positive learning environment.
- As players develop in age(10-12 years), they will start to take more interest in the game. Introduce different areas of rugby to players, such as kicking, contact,tackling, rucks and mauls etc. -Teach them the next level, along with working regularly on the basics to continue development.
Confidence and Encouragement
It’s important to give players the confidence to play to the best of their ability while having fun and enjoying the game.
- Praise players for their achievements and developments in training and when playing. This will encourage them to learn more and develop their style of play.
- Create a team cheer or shout when having a team huddle. This creates and energy and brings a team together.
Attacking with the ball is one of the most enjoyable parts of rugby, and a part of the game which younger players thrive. Teach players the different skills and techniques with attacking as they develop through the age groups.
- Teach players to run with the ball in two hands.
- Teaching players to support the ball carrier which can create better attacking opportunities. A successful attacking team always has players in support to take a pass if needed.
- With younger players (5 -9 years), teach them to move forward as a team, passing regularly. Try not to make things complicated by teaching set pieces, attacking moves etc. Work on the basics such as running, passing, moving forward etc
- As players progress through the grades and develop a better understanding of the game, start to teach set pieces and different attacking strategies. Work on these at training using various drills.
Junior players will begin with non contact (5-9 years) and progress through to tackling and contact rugby. It’s important to teach both of these styles, demonstrating the art of defence and how to stop the opposition from scoring and gaining field position.
- With non contact, teach players to keep eyes on opponents hips, with correct body position. Make sure legs are bent properly and back and head is straight when defending.
- When players progress to contact and tackling (10 years +), make sure chin is up, back is straight and players tackle the hips and drive forward. Maintain focus on opposing players and lock in with both arms. Make sure players return to their feet to contest the ball and attempt to gain possession.
Fair play must be encouraged throughout junior grades of rugby and is huge part of sport in general.
- Teach players to respect the opposing team, shaking hands after the game etc
- Players must be taught to respect officials, referees and the rules of the game.
- Foul play and ill discipline will not be tolerated within rugby. Teach players not to use these techniques and play within the rules of the game throughout all levels of junior rugby.
- Reward players with fair player awards, recognizing good sportsmanship and respect.
Junior rugby is the start of a career for many young players, and a huge platform for bigger things to come. If players can be taught all elements of rugby in a positive and creative environment, it can help them excel for many years to come.