Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Total Flanker Guide to: Coaching Youth Rugby

Some might say that just over half a season of being involved on the periphery of coaching my son’s Under 13 team is no qualification for me to begin proffering my advice on coaching youth rugby.

To which I say: why should knowing next to nothing about a subject prevent me from publishing a guide about said subject for anyone who is willing (or silly) enough to read it? (It never has before).

So, with that preamble out of the way, why get involved in coaching youth rugby at all?

I could trot out the somewhat trite reply that it is an honour and a privilege to be involved in bringing through talent for the future. Which is true, I suppose, but far from the completely honest answer, which has more to do with the fact that if I’m expected to turn up with my son to training on a regular basis I may as well at least pull on a pair of boots and run around a bit.

What I have found, though, is that any pre-conceptions I had about coaching kids have gone right out of the window.

I had assumed, for instance, that having been a reasonable player in my time, passing on rugby knowledge to the boys would be relatively straightforward. Wrong.

I had assumed that the boys would listen to what I had to say. Wrong.

I had assumed that once I’d showed the boys what it was that I wanted them to do, they would then do it. Wrong.

I had assumed that once they had succeeded in doing something in training, they would then replicate it the next time they played. Wrong.

What I failed to realise is that, much like for a 17 year old learning to drive, there is one hell of a lot to take in for for kids learning to play rugby.

So, what are the answers?

Buggered if I know, if I’m honest, but here is what appears to have worked so far:

- Keep the boys that want to mess about apart so that they are in separate groups with players who are keen to work hard and learn - peer pressure can be a wonderful thing;

- KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) - work at one thing at a time with plenty of repetition until it becomes second nature;

- Sign up for a coaching course. I haven't (yet) but it must help to have some idea what you're talking about, surely? and

- Dust off your sense of humour and have fun – if you’re enjoying it then, more than likely, so are the boys.

It’s hardly ground breaking advice, I know, but what I would say is that, despite my own pretty negligible contribution, I have been astonished at the ridiculous and disproportionate pride I have felt when the team comes together and plays well.

It’s natural enough for me to be proud of my son (who, to be fair to him, has enjoyed a cracking season) – but the vicarious sense of achievement generated by a bunch of 13 year olds - most of whom I hadn’t even met a few short months ago - is, quite frankly, ludicrous.

1 comment:

Von said...

Wonderful stuff Mr Flanker, pleased that you're enjoying it so far.
I'll be watching eagerly for the next installment, particularly for the bit around coaching courses.
A mate of mine got involved in coaching our club's youngsters and at first he was full of the pride and vicarious sense of achievement that you mention, (although by his own admission the main reason he got started was it was a far preferable alternative to standing around freezing his bollocks off with the other parents).
He found the coaching courses very off-putting though. Maybe it was partly due to his Welshness that he believed under 8s/9s should be throwing the ball around and enjoying themselves, and I agree with that to a large degree. But he felt the level of structure and planning required was not only overwhelming but also quite counter-productive.
Will be interesting to find out how your experience compares/contrasts with this.