By Clive Chapman
Last week saw the first NMSoR session at Bromsgrove School for the Worcester Satellite. We had 28 players which was less than we expected due to the U15s being needed at Worcester Warriors Elite Player Development Group. Either way it was enough for a meaningful session and the U15s would be getting excellent coaching with the Warriors Academy staff.
I was part of a coaching team of 3, led by an old coaching friend of mine and RFU Community Coach Chris Hargreaves and joining us for the first time was Tamara Taylor England Women’s International and Worcester Warriors Community Coach.
As is the norm, the lads were very nervous, but again following the norm, Chris’ warm up was designed to introduce themselves to each other and have a laugh doing it! Mission accomplished into the session proper which was looking at nothing more onerous than the basic push pass and catch. This in my opinion should be the bread of butter of every session regardless of what the aim is. Even in a contact based session, you can use a basic hands practice as a small part of the warm up. You can never do enough of this most basic skill on which the building blocks of Rugby are based.
Without going into specific coaching key points the whole session didn’t quite progress as fast as Chris wanted. Indeed the session plan he sent myself and Tamara only got half used in the hour and a half we were working.
I found myself working with the younger lads, who were doing good impressions of Rabbits caught in headlights. A fantastic opportunity to deploy some impress Formula. That of looking at their permanent qualities, dismissing mistakes as temporary and developing rapport I thought.
After a less than ideal first practice I gathered them all together during a drinks break and told them the following which was straight from the Impress playbook.
“Lads, I know you’re all incredibly nervous, that’s to be expected, it’s your first NMSoR session and it’s the first rung of the Elite Player Development Pathway. But, at the end of the day, it’s just a Rugby session, doing stuff you all know how to do or else you wouldn’t be here.”
“Everyone here can pass and catch, I know this, I’ve seen you all do it at the trials, this is just practicing something you can all do effectively and about giving you all little nuggets of info to make you even better. So shall we just crack on and have some fun with it?”
I highlighted their mistakes as temporary due to their first night nerves. Emphasised their permanent qualities in that I’ve seen them all pass and catch successfully at the trials and in doing so I hoped I’d started to develop rapport. I did have one them smiling at my little pep talk.
We carried on afterwards and did start to make some progress, albeit a bit more slowly than we would have liked. I’m guessing that for these 13 year old lads in particular, stage fright really did grip them! The older lads working with Chris and Tamara seemed to be getting it a bit quicker, but their experience of previous NMSoR sessions and their “advanced” years really did give them an advantage that evening.
The de-brief between the Coaches afterwards was pretty interesting. The general consensus was that maybe progressions should be slowed a bit and to keep the emphasis on hands at every session but disguise that with innovative practices to keep the lads interested.
I have a specific hands practice in mind, one I use with my Bees Colts side as a pre match warm up. It’s upbeat, gets the energy high and with the correct coaching nails down a lot of the required key points required for good hands.
I’m looking forward to the next session already!impress Inspiration Survey
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