If you have coached for long enough you will probably have had the challenge of having to train without a full squad. So if you are lucky enough to have your full squad you need to make sure that you make the absolute best of it.
Training with a full squad is not always a possibility and it is never something that can be taken for granted.
When you have all of your players available there is a responsibility that you have to your players, the club (or school) and to yourself.
For these sessions it is crucially important to ensure:
- You have planned the sessions meticulously
- You envolve EVERY player
So why are these two points so important? Let’s have a look
Planning your training session for your full squad in detail
When you are in the fortunate position of being able to train with all of your players, you need to make the most of it. Your training session must be engaging and interesting. People are taking time out of their busy lives to play rugby and they love the game. It is your duty as coach to make sure that they always want to come back for more.
I won’t be going into detail on exactly what rugby drills are important to look at from a skills point of view. Rather I would like to suggest that you really apply yourself in making sure that the players enjoy practices and that they know they are part of something special.
Regardless of what you plan, you need to plan and give solid structure to the practice sessions. Nothing puts off a player from practice than going through the same mindless routine. If you don’t put in the effort you will not have to worry about training with a full squad for much longer…
Involving everyone in your training sessions
The evolution of the game has made it impossible to continually compete with only a handful of players. You need contributions from every person you have available.
It is, therefore, your duty to equip your players with the necessary basic rugby skills first of all. They need to be able to pass both left and right, catch without a problem, tackle… You get the idea
The more important thing to take advantage of with your whole team present is that you can really build the TEAM itself. There are countless possibilities that become available when you have all of the players there.
You need to develop (or borrow from other coaches) a selection of game-specific game scenarios and games that develop other skills, for example, agility, evasion, etc.
Why these two types of games?
Games around game-specific scenarios
Coaches the world over fall into the trap of only doing very structured practices around set pieces and the basic skills. If you stand back and take a realistic look at it, you will see that the vast majority of the game is dynamic.
You might have similar scenarios being played out, but there are often slight differences.
If you create game-specific scenarios you will be able to run through a group of slightly different scenarios in high volumes. The players get to learn from this mentally and physically.
Their muscle memory will be evolved and their ability to instinctively react to such scenarios in the game will be heightened in a big way.
Non game-specific games
It might be a good idea just to mix things up a bit from time to time as well. The idea is to stimulate the players in different ways and improve a number of different skill sets.
You can gain more in terms of hand-eye co-ordination, agility, speed and communication through these games as it is not something that they are doing instinctively. They have to force themselves to learn and adapt.
The easiest ways to do this is by changing the balls that you use. Use a basketball, soccer ball or tennis ball for some of the drills. Let players play with one hand behind their backs.
If you look at many of the games you played as a kid you are on to EXACTLY the type of games you should be looking at. Adapt them a little if needed, but incorporate them at least once a week for a few minutes. The players will love it.
This type of approach will help players not only to evolve but to really get out of their shells. Everyone is good in different areas and you are bound to discover a number of gems that you didn’t even know was there.