5.2 Session Planning
In planning my sessions I inevitably come back to the following structure:
5.2.1 Warm-up (c. 20 mins)
I always try to start training exactly on time with a light warm-up drill. The purpose of this drill is essentially just to get the team together and to get them to start handling a rugby ball. It is important to me to start on time and I impose a penalty on players who are not ready to start on time – usually a small fitness exercise at the end of training. I want the players to feel that I am organized and focused on the training ahead. I also want to emphasize to the players the importance of approaching their rugby in a professional manner. On a more practical level, starting exactly on time is useful because it usually hurries along those who are taking their time to get changed! After five minutes or so, I wrap up the drill and take the players through dynamic and static stretching. Please see section 4.1 for some ideas for dynamic stretching.
5.2.2 Fitness (c. 20 mins)
I like to get my fitness done early in the session so that the players are practicing all of their skills and team work when they are already slightly fatigued. I try to make the fitness reasonably hard as I believe that a team that trains hard together bonds together better than a team that mucks around on the training pitch. Please see section 4.2 for some ideas for fitness exercises.
5.2.3 Skills Work (c. 20 mins)
This is typically some kind of handling drill (e.g. 2 on 1’s, 3 on 2’s, 5 on 3’s). The aim is always to work on the teams positioning, decision-making and execution skills. If we have a game the next week I sometimes omit this section to spend more time on game specifics.
5.2.4 Forwards and Backs (c. 20 mins)
The forwards typically run over their set pieces during this time whilst the backs usually run over their offensive moves and defensive positioning.
5.2.5 Team Run (c. 15 mins)
I usually ask the team to do things at 75% speed but to focus on, as with skills work, positioning, decision-making and execution skills. I prefer team runs to be unopposed as I believe one or two reserves opposing an entire team is no more realistic than none at all.
5.2.6 Touch Rugby (c. 15 mins)
Rugby players seem to love touch rugby! I try to keep the teams small enough to make sure that every player is required to participate fully. I also keep score to emphasize the importance of winning.
5.2.7 Warm-down (10 mins)
This is where the latecomers and the losing touch team do their extra fitness exercises. I often encourage the rest of the team to join in. Stretching should also be done at this point although I must admit that this is something we still need to work on introducing.