Q. Why do coaches use unopposed team runs? (Rugby context)
18 Year Old Girl Rugby Player: “I think they (coaches) just do it cause they want to see you in that system and it looking smooth, but once you get in the game it all gets messed up and people are knocking it on and throwing bad passes.”
Often as coaches, we have a tendency to want ‘perfection’ and for players to be in ‘the right place at the right time.’ But is this actually possible? In evasion sports such as rugby, netball, football, hockey, basketball, tennis etc… there are so many variables such as opposition, weather, officials, scoreboard, individual athlete mindset, it almost seems impossible to get ‘perfection.’
Is there any point coaching systems and structures? There very well could be. But how can we prepare our players to deal with variables that happen outside of rigid systems and structures? How can we change the environment and / or practice design to better replicate the reality our players will face in matches?
Games: Using games is one approach, where you establish a game that will help players develop their sport-specific skills in a variable, changing context. Set out the space, rules, constraints, equipment and let them go for it. You can then guide learning through feedback, questioning and changing the game design.
Scenarios: You can also use scenarios that may happen often in your sport. Set up the scenario and let the players figure out how to navigate and thrive in that scenario.