All coaches and players look for that perfect game. That game where absolutely everything falls into place on the day. Getting to that point does however take a lot of planning both on the field and off the field.
The most perfect game of rugby I have seen was played by the Springboks in the 2007 Rugby World Cup. The Springboks beat the England team by 36-0 during the group stages. Everything just worked on the day, but very little of that can be credited to luck or the bounce of the ball.
Bringing it all together takes a lot of hard work. The hard work that people don’t see is what will set you apart from the opposition when you get onto the field.
What it takes to bring it all together
This is a bit of an insane one, but gives you an idea of what goes into becoming great.
The best example of this comes in the form of American swimmer, Michael Phelps. As an Olympic swimmer he accumulated 28 medals, which included 23 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze.
Here are the rest of his numbers:
- Height: 6′ 4″ (193cm)
- Weight: 194 lbs (88kg)
- Daily diet: 12 000 calories
- Days of training per year: 364 (he takes a break on Christmas day)
Those are all extreme numbers and ones that you will see from the tennis great Roger Federer as well.
These guys took their goal, planned how they would get to it and put in the hard work away from the public eye.
In the end, they would be standing smiling at the cameras with their medals and trophies and everyone would be saying “how did they do it… again?”
The less extreme approach for your team
To bring it all together you need to plan every aspect of your team’s season. A lot of the initial work will happen just after the previous season has ended.
The general plan
At a very top level you should decide the following:
- what is the goal you are working towards?
- what will you do during the off-season?
- on what will the focus be during pre-season training?
- how will you manage training in-season?
Answering these very general questions will help you to also be able to talk to them confidently with other coaches, administrators and especially your players.
The sooner they understand where you want to work towards, the faster they can fall in line and work with you towards the same goal.
Going a little deeper
The focus will shift toward adding detail to each part of your planning. You need to get the detail right for a number of reasons:
- to figure out your timelines
- finding out what resources will be needed
- identifying gaps in what you have available and how to work around it
Getting stuck into the detail will enable you to prepare far better for your upcoming season. The result would be that you are not caught off guard at any time during the season, because you know what should happen at each stage.
Planning during in-season
The planning and execution in pre-season and off-season is crucial and should not be neglected as it lays the foundation for a successful season.
During the in-season, you will have all eyes on you as it is time to then deliver the goods.
Your practice plan for the week
It is absolutely crucial that you prepare your practice plan for the week ahead of time. Preparing it ahead of time will ensure that you don’t waste any time during the practice sessions you have available.
It will also ensure that you actually thought about the weakness and strengths of your team and players. The result would be that you will have players and a team that continually get better throughout the season.
The first things to make sure of are the logistics and safety of players. Whether you are directly involved with the arrangements or not, you should know exactly what will be happening and how everything works on game day.
This information needs to then also be relayed to players and fans (parents) as soon as possible.
The reason for focusing on this first is to get rid of unnecessary distractions. When these distractions are taken care off, you will have players that can more easily focus on the task at hand.
The second thing to make sure off is having everything in place that you need during the game. Ensure that:
- the kit (jerseys, socks, shorts) is ready to go
- all warmup equipment is ready and set up ahead of time
- you have the water bottles filled
- your technical area is ready, clean and has everything you need
The end result…
The main focus of bringing it all together is to focus on being prepared. All of the above-mentioned steps are crucial elements in bringing it all together on the day and for the whole season.
If you put in the effort off the field by ensuring everything is planned and prepared, you enable your team to focus on rugby. Both during practice and when it comes to game time.
All of the distractions, uncertainty and confusion start to fade away and they will be able to deliver more often on the field.
I must be honest that this is not easy in any way and it takes time to get right. If you keep working at it, you will however just see more and more rewards coming your way on the field.