One of the hardest aspects of coaching rugby is bringing a team back up after a loss. Sooner or later every team faces defeat, and as a coach, how you deal with this situation will define your quality. I have a background in education, and I have often read theories about how to teach young people the importance of learning to fail well, and I think these principles apply directly to coaches and their teams. So how do you fail well?
Reactions to Failure
- Externalising own failure eg. This whole team is rubbish; it’s not my fault we keep losing
- Shifting blame to other people eg. It was the refs fault we lost
- Denying failure exists
- Catastrophising failure eg. The whole world is against me/us
- Universalising failure eg. Rugby sucks
- Avoiding all situations where failure is possible eg. I don’t want to play rugby anymore, it’s too hard.
- Taking responsibility for your own actions in game situations, analysing processes used, making changes, and trying again.
Creating a climate where players feel safe to fail
A good coach will create a team environment where players feel safe failing. Players aren’t always going to be on top of their game, and at times things aren’t going to go their way. Players will lose lineouts, they will drop balls, they will give away unnecessary penalties and miss kicks at goal. If you create an environment where players can act positively towards their faults, and work on bettering their mistakes, then you have done your job.
- Requires consistency of approach
- Separating performance from person i.e. you had a bad game, but that doesn’t make you a bad player
- Using a process of continuous improvement:
- Gathering feedback
- Looking for trends
- Admitting mistakes
- Making changes
- Gathering more feedback
…this process applies for you and all of your players.