Coaching youngsters is a whole different ball game to training adults. With children, rugby needs to be seen as a fun thing to do. Their confidence needs to be built up, as one harsh word can put them off the game. You will need to gain their trust and to have a lot of patience. It’s not important to have been a great player yourself, but you will need to know the basic rules before you begin.
Tips for training young rugby players
First of all, it will actually be good exercise for you as well as the youngsters. You will also find it rewarding, as you watch the players improve each week. You will need to be approachable and enthusiastic about what you are doing, as this will rub off on the children. You will need to take control from the off and to prepare well for each session. Also, do not feel intimidated – children can be ruthless if they think they have the upper hand.
One key thing is to get a balance between strengthening the team and developing individuals. It’s the taking part and not the winning which matters the most. As England coach, Eddie Jones explained, focusing on winning does not always produce good players. There needs to be a balance between fundamental skills and the obsession to win.
Do your homework
You will feel more confident if you have prepared for each session beforehand. Young players need to develop the building blocks of all the skills needed to play rugby, such as catching, passing and tackling, before they can start dreaming of winning games. This could be practising different moves or building up their speed. They could also watch a rugby drill video, such as https://www.sportplan.net/drills/Rugby/, before they try it for themselves.
Each session needs to include a different element to prevent the players from getting bored or restless. The sessions could be broken down into different elements starting with warming-up exercises, then 10 or 15 minute slots for working on different core skills followed by a mini game or fun element. Each child also needs to feel they are part of a team, which means every player takes it in turns to be picked for the starting line-up, regardless of their level of ability.