5. Coaching

5.1 General Points

The following are some general points that I find it useful to consider when planning and running coaching sessions:

5.1.1 Less is more

It is better to spend more time on less activities if it means you take enough time to get those activities right. One of the key aims of training is to build the team’s confidence. As such it is important to give players a fair chance to work on one coaching point before moving on to the next one.

5.1.2 Mix the old with the new

A typical Tokyo Gaijin training session involves around six exercises. Out of these six exercises, one or two will usually be new whilst the other four or five will be things the team has done before. It is important to get the balance right. If you introduce too much new stuff in one session you run the risk of overwhelming the players. However, if you continually run the same exercises without introducing anything new then the players may get stale.

5.1.3 Make trainings competitive

In my experience, rugby players enjoy competition. If you are playing a game at training, keep score and have the losing team do a little extra fitness at the end of training. I have found that this ensures the players ‘switch on’ and give you 100% during the training game.

5.1.4 Emphasize the importance of doing the basics right

With beginners, your job will be teaching them the basics. With more experienced players, your job is to ensure that they continue executing the basic aspects of the game correctly.

5.1.5 Drills must be rugby realistic

Consider whether whether the skills-based drills you are asking the players to practice can be directly applied onto the field. If they cannot then I would question the value of the drill.

5.1.6 Keep safety in mind

As a general rule, I don’t do a lot of physical contact at Tokyo Gaijin sessions. (By physical contact I mean 100% physical confrontation drills, e.g. one-on-one tackling practice, pack v pack mauling and rucking, full contact team runs, and the like.) Instead, our trainings are usually based around fitness and skills-based exercise rather than physical confrontation. This is largely due to the varied skill level of the players we have in the team and the quality of the pitch we practice on. However, physical contact exercises are definitely useful for many teams. For coaches who do want to work on the more physical aspects of the game at training I would say that the key rule is to make sure that for any physical exercises players are matched up appropriately.