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Getting Buy-in (GBC)

To have success with a Game-Based coaching approach you will need to get the ‘buy-in.’

Getting Buy-in (GBC)

To have success with a Game-Based coaching approach you will need to get the ‘buy-in.’


You will be the key to the success of this approach. If you are clear why you are using a Game-Based coaching approach, then your coaching colleagues and players will follow you. 

Consider these statements. 10 - I totally agree, 1 totally disagree and anywhere in between. 

  1. Replicating the training environment to match a rugby match will enhance learning!

  2. Players learn best when they have ownership!

  3. Mistakes are an opportunity for players to learn, so I should expect mistakes at practice!

  4. Questioning players will enhance their learning better than if I just tell them!

If your scores are high, then you are likely on board. If any of your scores are low, then you will need to consider why that is the case. 

Once you understand where you sit, it’s time to brief your team.


Your players may be used to more traditional approaches where they are drilled, stand in queues and told everything by the coach. How you frame your approach will be critical so the players understand why you are implementing a Game-Based approach. For example: 

‘This environment may be different to what you have experienced in the past. Here we will do most of our practices in games and game-like scenarios. We want you to be in game situations as much as possible as we think that will help your learning. We will also ask a lot of questions. And that’s not because we don’t have a clue what we are on about, but rather this is to help you come up with solutions and take ownership of your learning and the way you and the team will play. It won’t always be pretty, as mistakes will happen, but those moments are great opportunities for all of us to learn.’

Reinforcement (story time)

It is important to keep reinforcing why you are using this approach. For example, this story from The Coaching Gig founder Kyle McLean...

"We were in the middle of a practice (with 8 and 9 year old's) and one player just stopped and said...

 'isn't it funny how they (the team on the next pitch) do 'proper' trainings (a series of drills) and we just do games, but we always beat them.'"

This shows that we need to keep reinforcing why we practice like we do. This player had a perception of what trainings look like (a series of drills with a game at the end). The players from the story were definitely engaged week after week and improved. And as this young player mentioned, they did beat the other team regularly at training games, after being even early in the season - not sure if this is an important measure or not?"


As you are coaching a young rugby team, your parents may be keen to observe your practices. They may have preconceived ideas of how a practice should look and feel as they have probably been coached in a certain way when they were kids. Without any prior briefing, they may see your practices as ‘lacking structure’ or that ‘you lack control of the kids’ (as they won’t be standing in queues waiting their turn). 

So, just like you brief your team, you are advised to do the same with your parents. Let them know how trainings will look and feel and your reasoning behind this approach. If they are informed they are more likely to understand and support you. 

Key Messages: 

  1. Fun - if the kids are having fun, they'll want to come back.

  2. Learning - they will learn skills and tactics quicker if practices replicate rugby as much as possible.

  3. Leadership - the kids will take on more responsibility, where their leadership, communication and team work skills will be enhanced.

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