So this is how we often coach…
“When a player is tackled, the first person to arrive at the ruck needs to look to see if there are any threats. And then you need to make a decision, do you take out the threat or protect the ball. If you take out the threat, you need to keep your eyes on the target, come in from behind the ball, go from low to high, same foot, same shoulder, get underneath the opposition player and drive him backwards. If there is no threat you need to get over the ball to protect it, place your arms on your tackled player, put your weight slightly on your heels, keep your eyes up…”
Now the young players being ‘coached’ here (rugby ruck skills by the way) will be dissecting and interpreting these words in different ways. What’s a threat? What’s a target? What does ‘eyes on target’ even mean? What does ‘same foot, same shoulder’ mean? How do I put my weight on my heels? Do I look up to the sky to keep ‘my eyes up’ or do I stand up?
We have a tendency to talk a lot, but words are often meaningless. As the old saying goes ‘A picture paints a 1000 words,’ so how can we speed up learning and save ourselves from using too many words? Try using analogies to ‘paint’ pictures for players. Depending on the age you coach, you may want to try using animal analogies. Analogies have been proven to enhance learning, where overtalking can do the opposite. Here are some examples. Consider what pictures are created…
‘Build a wall’ - how you want rugby players to align on defence.
‘Guard Dog’ - player that stands next to the ruck in rugby and doesn’t let anyone through.
‘Let’s play like Lions’ - connotations of aggression, physicality.
‘Warthogs’ - like getting down and dirty in the mud.
‘Fall like a feather’ - an analogy used to encourage people to fall safely.
‘Cast a spell’ - following through after passing.