Players start to blossom and start understanding the game a lot more between the ages of 8 and 11. At this age, they are by no means top athletes, but slowly things start to fall into place. At this stage of kids rugby, the games take on a lot more structure.
These are usually very exciting times for parents and players. The parents get very excited about anything their child accomplishes. Any play, big or small, will lead to a mother screaming at the top of her lungs in excitement and that is a wonderful thing.
When players are at the under 9, under 10 or under 11 level, they start to understand the fundamentals of the game a bit as well. Their rugby intelligence is starting to develop and their decision making is getting better.
Seeing your child being able to work with a team and achieve any positive result fills you with pride and you. That is exactly what it should do!
…but I need to caution you not to get too carried away. Just because they did something well, it doesn’t mean that scouts from pro teams or universities are lining up to sign him or her just yet. Your expectations and the pressure on your child should also not be at those levels. This is still only kids rugby.
Common traps parents fall into with kids rugby
Parents tend to get carried away at this age level. They see some positive signs and start to expect their children to perform every time they step onto the field. There is also a bit of competition that starts with the other parents where you start comparing your child with theirs.
Don’t do it.
Your child is unique and their abilities are unique. They should not be pressured into performing, they should not be compared to other children.
Then what should I do with their blossoming talent?
The players would have moved on from a couple of the simple games that you might have played with them outside. They are starting to evolve in their practice sessions and the games they play at school during recess as well.
So what can you do as a parent? You can help them to enjoy exploring their new abilities.
At this age, the kids want to achieve something. Small victories mean the world to them and if you praise them for it, it builds their confidence.
The extent of the equipment you need at this level: still only a rugby ball… and some time
When they get to the under 9, under 10 and under 11 age group level, they still like games, but they don’t just want to have fun, they want to achieve something as well.
So what type of games can you play?
All of them are still fairly simple:
- Line them up next a wall around 3 meters away from the wall. Draw a circle about the size of a dinner plate on the wall with chalk. Let them pass it to the left first with the aim of hitting it 3 times in a row, then repeat it to the right. If they do this easily, increase the distance up to a maximum of 5 meters and increase the passes to a maximum of 10 in a row
- Let them catch balls out of the air. Either kick them about 5 to 10 meters in the air or simply throw it with an arc
- Give them a chance to kick the ball. When they kick, just get them to try and improve on the distance they are kicking. It doesn’t need to be accurate, only for distance
- Allow them to run at you, avoid the tackle and score a try. Some of your best acting might be needed at first, but after a while, you will see that they get better at it and actually beat you for real
For each of these playful drills, you need to praise them for every success. If they fail, don’t get mad, just encourage them to try again.
There are a number of benefits they will get from these drills and you will see improvements in:
- Hand-eye coordination
At this age level, the main focus kids rugby should still be fun. They need to play and play often. If they are having fun and play a variety of games, they will continue to improve in a range of athletic competencies.