The best advice I ever received as a coach was to plan your practice sessions. Not just say that you put in planning, but actually write it down and bring the little piece of paper with you to practice. Putting together a rugby practice plan is a simple process, but often neglected by coaches.
Just a quick visit to one of those classic cliches: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
When it comes to putting together a practice plan it can’t be truer than that. You will be amazed at what a difference it will make if you put in the extra bit of effort to plan your sessions.
When you have an idea of what your season’s goals are you need to take it week by week. There are way too many variables that come into play if you plan too far into the future.
Injuries happen, illness happens, players leave, opponents improve, weather changes, games are moved…
There are basically two areas you need to focus on with your rugby practice plan:
- Know what you want to achieve in the coming week and plan for it
- Know what you want to achieve in a single practice session and plan for it
Planning for the week up ahead
A week’s planning should be based on what happened in the previous game. It doesn’t matter if you won or lost. The goal should remain simple. Strengthen what you are good at and improve one or two weak points.
If you focus on this every single week your overall success percentages will start to improve. You will win more turnovers, be better in scrums, win more of your lineouts and possible steal a few balls, secure more of your own rucks…
All of these little mini-battles that you win add up until you start winning more and more regularly.
If you become complacent and stop planning, it is very likely that you will see your results becoming very erratic.
You should mainly focus on trying to identify what your strong areas were and what the weak areas were. To go with this you need to have a rough idea of the time spent on different facets of the game. If you were only scrumming for 5% of the time, for example, you should not let your forward spend 50% of their weekly practice on it.
So work out the rough splits between the different facets of the game and the strong & weak points
Doing your daily planning
Keeping in mind what you uncovered in your weekly planning, you can then break out the practice sessions based on the needs for your team.
Writing down the exact drills you will focus on for each practice session will make life a lot easier for you. You need to make sure that you assign a specific amount of time to each drill to ensure you get through everything you wanted to touch on.
If you come to the practice sessions prepared the players will feel your confidence and believe what you say. If they believe in your system and way of doing things they will be far more effective on the field.
A rugby practice plan is easy to put together and it is one of the disciplines you have to pick up as a coach. If you plan every session you will be able to see what works and what doesn’t. More importantly, a well laid out rugby practice plan is bound to yield some amazing results for you on the field.