Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Skills | Tags: attacking ploys, Better Rugby Coaching, disorganising defences, Rugby Tactics, Rugby Training
Good attack requires good core skills. Your core skills also defines your ambition. Attack with your strengths.
Coaching attack means how you intend to take the ball forward. In pre season, split your attack training into three areas:
1. Attack through the opposition: using plays, moves and techniques to smash through the defensive lines. Training should be against an organised defensive line of players.
2. Attack around the opposition: training against a defence that has spaces on the edges. Reduce the number of defenders the players face in exercises to encourage more passing to spaces.
3. Attack to disorganise a defence: either by using kicks or quick rucks to break up the defensive line.
All attack exercises must be against a live defence as soon as possible to add realism and create the right circumstances.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, rugby defence | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, lineout defence, maul defence, ruck defence, scrum defence, set piece defence
Pre season is good time to set out your defence principles. Start with the basics at the key areas and then develop them as the season progresses.
Defence is how your players align themselves from a static situation like a set piece or breakdown. It is also how they move once the ball is released.
Here is the running order of importance:
1. Ruck defence. There are more rucks than any other static situation. You need to decide how to cover the fringes of the ruck and then how line up from there. More time should be spent on this organisation than all the other defence areas put together.
2. Scrum defence. Probably there will be more scrums than lineouts, so this is the next most important area. Things to consider: where does the scrum half go, what are the roles of the back row, where does the 10 stand in relation to the scrum, where should the wingers go.
3. Lineout defence. Here you want to think about the connection between the back of the lineout and the 10.
4. Kick return defence. When your team kick the ball, apart from the chasers, how will you cover the backfield.
5. Maul defence. If there is a maul close to your line, then how will you defend?
6. Red zone defence. If they have the ball in your 22m area, will your ruck and set piece defence change? For instance, will you bring your wingers up?
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, cohesion, motivation, team building, team management
Pre season is a good time to bond the team as a unit. Here are five ways you can do this.
1. Put players into groups of three or four training buddies. They can encourage each other to turn up, warm up and look after each other off the field. One of the players could be a senior player and another new player.
2. Outline your principles from the start of pre season, and then reiterate them throughout the pre season period. Keep your behaviour to your principles and so keep consistency.
3. Let the players add a principle a week, which is realistic. For instance, turning up on time or being ready for training. Remind them of the principles each week.
4. Set targets for the “way we play” rather than winning or losing. Players can control improvements in strength, speed and skill, but not whether the opposition are any good or not.
5. Be clear when players need to switch onto training hard, be more light hearted or rest. The players can work together to increase the intensity when they need to increase it, and you need not have to shout at them to do so.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Team Management, Rugby Training | Tags: All Blacks training, Better Rugby Coaching, selection
Selection in pre season
There is a dilemma in pre season over running moves and plays as teams. Do you give everyone a fair chance by rotating the players, or do concentrate on your strongest players.
My experience is this:
1. Players respond to challenges. Therefore it is better to mix up the teams and units and become familiar with different levels of competency.
2. Better players can develop weaker players. Plus, given some responsibility to do this, help develop their own understanding of the game.
3. Players get injured. You have more chance of building confidence in potential replacements in pre season than in the hurly burly of the main season.
4. Mixing players up does cause execution issues of exercises. If a weaker player cannot perform certain functions, it can lead frustration and the exercise falling apart. If this is happening, modify the exercise to suit this player, but ask better players to perform more complicated actions.
5. Be honest and open when you are going to try out potential “A team” combinations. Players will have to get used to each other at some stage. It also provides motivation to try harder for those players who believe they should be in the combination.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Fitness | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, fitness, pre season fitness, warm down
Pre season is a good time work on helping players maintain good habits. After each session, though the temptation will be to jump in the car and go, it is important to have some form of warm down.
Think of warm down as part of the recovery process towards being in better shape for the next session. There are several ways you can help your players warm down effectively.
1. Finish the session with “static” stretches to the large muscle groups. Static stretches are held extensions of the muscles. The large muscles groups are mainly the legs and back.
2. Use some gentle jogging.
3. Encourage the players to take a cold shower. Use an ice bath set up, if you have one (and if you do, you will have an understanding of the timings involved).
4. Ask the players to invest in some compression tights.
5. Encourage the players to be off their feet as much as possible the day after a very heavy session.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Fitness | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, hydration, sweat, water, weight loss
Whatever the weather, players must drink. However too much water and they can reduce the effectiveness of the energy systems in their body.
A player who has not drunk enough water will be more tired and less speedy than a properly hydrated player.
Here are five tips for you and your players in pre season to be in tune with hydration.
1. Weigh the players in their pants before and after training. Note down the weights before and after to note the percentage loss due to sweat. Too great a loss and not enough water is being taken on.
2. Players should start drinking water long before training starts. They should be thinking they need to have had a couple of large glasses of water before coming to training.
3. Players should start the day with a couple of large glasses of water, but then spend the rest of the day sipping water.
4. A good guide to hydration is that a player’s urine is pale yellow (not clear).
5. It is okay to drink tea and coffee. However, since these are diuretics, that is enhance dehydration, so an equal amount of water should be drunk to balance this.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, rugby defence, Rugby Fitness, Rugby Skills | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, conditioning, Cutting edge, defence, Rugby Fitness
You can create a cutting edge in your team over pre season. In a previous blog, I talked about improving your speed of thought (Day 12). You want to be able to generate a team that can impose itself on other teams.
Here are five ways to “impose” yourself on other teams, and use pre season to start this process:
1. Become fitter in the areas where you have a strength. If you are a large team who likes set piece, work harder on upper body work. If you are a fast team who like to keep the ball alive, then work on speed and stamina. You might say “how about our weaknesses”? Well, be strong in what you can do first and then the other areas will start to fall into place as the season unfolds.
2. Develop and practise a few “killer” moves from set pieces and second phases. Have these as near to perfect as you can. Only then start on the next set of moves.
3. Work on “chunking” a game into segments of time. How do you play in the first five minutes. What you might do from 5 to 20 minutes if you are ahead or behind. How do you aim to finish the first half. Think about the fatigue elements. If players focus on these chunks of time, the scoreboard and all the psychological effects it can have on the players become less important.
4. Build a defence culture that celebrates success. If the ball is turned over, or the opposition has to kick, make sure the team acknowledge this and the opposition know about it.
5. Know what “tempo” wins you games. Does your side like to play with pace, use set piece and play close to the breakdown, or break the game up with kicks? Know this and then you can aim to capture that in the game. Pre season is an ideal time to work on the specifics of how the tempo of your game develops.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Skills, Rugby Training | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, contact rugby, pre season contact, rucking, Rugby Skills
Like tackling, you need to make a decision when to add more physical intensity to your training at pre season. And like for tackling, the earlier the better. It does not need to be full bone-on-bone sessions. Better to build up the contact “shapes”, focusing on low intensity techniques.
Here are five ways to “build” contact intensity.
1. Play contact rugby in an extremely small area. Say five v five in a five metre channel.
2. Use tackle shields held low to the ground to help players work on ground contact and ball placement skills.
3. Play kneeling rugby, where players move whilst on their knees. A tackle is defined as the hips of the ball carrier touching the ground.
4. Practise the last step before contact, without the run up. The ball carrier has to be in the right body position, or the ruck clearer low and ready to drive out the threat.
5. Allow grab tackles in touch rugby, or grabbing for the ball.
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Fitness, Rugby Training | Tags: Better Rugby Coaching, conditioning, fitness, Rugby Coaching, Rugby Drills, stretching, warm ups
I am going to be a little controversial here. You don’t need to warm up.
There I said it.
Actually, you need to change the mindset to “preparing to train or play”. The mind and body need to be switched into action. That cannot be done immediately. Spend some time gradually building up the intensity.
What needs to be in your pre season warm up (last time I use that expression in this piece)
1. A game (like touch rugby or rugby netball) – this will get players onto the pitch quicker.
2. Some raising of the heart rate – this can be done in a game.
3. An increase in mental arousal – to put players in the right frame of mind (again can be done in a game).
4. Some movements and contact which start to replicate the exercises ahead.
5. A minute or two for players to “stretch” themselves if they want to. Players who are stiff or recovering from injury might use this time to activate their muscles. Others will simply run around with a ball.