It is time for winter training for rugby clubs, and this can be a challenge for administrators and players alike.
Fancy a five-star hotel, nine-hole golf course, 40-metre-square indoor pitch and a state-of-the-art gym? If you are lucky enough to be in Eddie Jones England squad when they next meet up, this is what you can look forward to. However, most players are not so lucky.
Most coaches know players turn up for pre-season keen as mustard, but as the nights draw in, the days get colder and pitches more difficult, that enthusiasm can wane. How can you keep the players interested and committed?
First, keeping players engaged means having an ever-changing series of rugby training drills to maintain their attention and make training fun, especially during winter. Information on innovative exercises can be found online at sites such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/.
Coaches face many challenges during this period, not least the weather, meaning training sessions may be short and pitches may be in poor condition. It’s important to think outside the box and come up with appropriate drills. The problems are also compounded by the fact that numbers may be down due to injuries or players’ other commitments, depending on their jobs.
Here are a few simple drills for those nights.
From a couple of metres away, kick the ball for a player to catch at varying heights. The player should then try to pass you with the ball or slip it to a supporting player to replicate real-time play. This improves hand-eye co-ordination, agility before contact and support play if you are using a second player.
One on one, the ball carrier attacks but allows the tackle to take place. Tell the tackler to imagine a hoop on the ground and step into it before making the tackle, ensuring the shoulder drives through and it is not a weak arm tackle. The tackler should drive the ball carrier to the ground, get back on their feet and get over the ball.
Position three players in a ring with one in the middle. The object of the exercise is to tag the player in the centre with the ball by using quick passes to move the single player around. You can add extra players to the centre of the ring.