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How Much Work Did You Put In As A Rugby League Coach?

I often get asked "how much work did you put in when you were a rugby league coach?". The answer is a lot. If I do something I go all in. I was coaching Ron Massey Cup which is a part-time role but I would put in 36 hours a week on average.


Here is an example training review I just recently re-read from when I stepped back and was just being an assistant coach. These notes were written straight off the top of my head, we didn't video the session or anything like that.

If you don't asses and know what your strengths and weaknesses are, you don't know what to work on and end up throwing random sessions together. I hated that as a player, and I hate it as a coach. Every session should have a specific goal and outcome. No wasted time and energy.


*I have changed names to positions so that my notes hopefully make more sense.


Training Review

Takeaways:

  • Need to work on catch pass being crisper

  • Play direct and at speed

  • Stick to simple plays and work on timing, positioning, e.g. who were are isolating and where to be out the back

  • Stay square when shutting the gate and be moving forward. Keep working on spacing and getting up straight to help this

  • Don’t jamb. If they engage us, engage, but don’t guess.

Catch Pass – need to work on correct foot forward, early catch, not re-adjusting too much and passes out in front, not to the body. Intensity needs to be up. We went through motions.


Cond. Game – started slow but improved as it went on. Got some energy by the end and boys enjoyed it more.


Get out sets – quality was fine. Think it is just a bit slow and boring. Could finish with this instead of doing them here or we use it on our defensive night (kills two things at once).


Left v right – best part of the session. Intensity was good. Right edge defended well, worked well together. Left edge need to stick to system more. Left centre jumping out trying to jamb too much leaving half vulnerable.


Middles need to shut the gate staying square and moving forward. Got beat on inside shoulder too much. This was more so when left edge were defending as attacking half was playing straight and beating their inside shoulders. Left edge attack was too lateral so didn’t challenge us with that.


Attack – we need to identify spacing. Left edge attack had to play at A outside shoulder to make our B tighten up and create space. Played wide and overs, so our marker and A could hunt hard at ball players, pushing them further sideways and making them play early.


Right edge squared up better and held up our defence isolating our three in. Just need fullback to square up more, tighter line out the back. He swept too much which ran him into the 2 in. If he stays tight in behind the back rower he was through or would open up more space for his centre. Because of playing straight they also beat us on the inside shoulder when drifting too hard/not square from the inside, need a bit more push to cash in on this.


Conditioning – pretty good efforts. Top half are at a level they need to be, bottom are trying but need to improve (extras needed in own time), then very bottom needs a lot of work. Way too far off.


Individual Notes


Fullback – needs to work on depth and width out the back. Too deep and sweeping too much. Has to stay tighter, run to where the 3 in moves from to tackle the lead. Then 2 in has to come at him which opens space for his centre and creates 2 v 1. In this scenario he has to shave the leads arse and go hard. If two in jambing early, keep same line but can be a bit deeper to allow time for the tip on. Fitness levels are good.


Winger – worked well with his centre. Followed him in really well and shut down FB well when he had to. Held shape at other times, using the sideline well. Fitness levels are pretty good.


Centre – Good width and held well with half until ball players made their decision or our tights made them play. Engaged at the right time. Good talk in attack. Tipping fullback up about his lines etc. too which is a good help. Fitness levels are good.


Halfback (played right for left v right) – good hold in defence before releasing. Good talk with his centre. In attack, played straight and at good speed. Got to B a lot and created one on ones for back rower and space on outside. Identified early drift/not getting up square and beat a lot of inside shoulders too. Good control. Fitness is pretty good.


Five-eighth (played left side for left v right) – Needed to play straight in attack and engage a defender. Too sideways, too early. Wasted tackle one with a drop back to where we were already tackled or and early inside pass not asking any questions. In defence needs to get up straight and steady feet better. Head faking to come in and then going to drift is putting him in bad positions. Just needs to talk to inside more and stay half a step behind back rower to give himself a look. Needs to get in front. Only does it when tipped up. Looking for outs on the contact side of things at times. Fitness is pretty good.


Five-eighth 2 (played left side for left v right) – I like is intensity but he is raw. Just need to keep tipping him up. Needed to play straight in attack (like above). Defensively he is aggressive which is good. Again need to get up straight and steady though, feels panicked at times. Fitness is ok, needs some work still.


Left Centre – Showed signs of good hands in catch pass drill. In left v right, trying to skip out too much, ran himself out of space. Needs to let the ball players play direct and be patient, so they can open up space for him later. Wants big plays out of nothing, we were just coming up with errors. In defence needs to pick when to engage out the back, jambing too much at the moment. I don’t have a problem with shut down but you don’t already have it in your mind 10m away. If ball player engages us, then you engage. Jumping out is isolating our 3 in’s outside shoulder. Too unfit. Nowhere near where he needs to be for round 1.


Left Winger – we need to see more of him. Keep it simple. Good early carries when we do our oppose type get outs, and in defence we just have to teach him when to engage and when to steady and he will be valuable for us.


Other Left winger – needs to steady in defence. Just guessing where to go and getting out of position. Too erratic.


Front rower 1 – good solid carries and good work off our halfback. One on one is a result with him there. Defensively is working well but needs to stay square and not go sideways too early otherwise gets beaten on inside shoulder too easily. Fitness needs work but he is good for a solid 15 minutes still.


Front rower 2 – very keen in D. Working hard from inside. Biggest thing is to shut the gate square going forward. Tying in sideways a bit and opening up his inside shoulder and space back through middle. Fitness needs work but he keeps pushing. He will give us 15-20 where he is at.


Hooker – needs a bit more talk. Probably just need to tell him where and how to. Once ball goes past just has to move forward when shutting the gate. Sliding sideways a bit, he is staying square but still getting to his inside because he isn’t forward on it. Need a bit more form him around the ruck, holding up markers, creating time for forwards etc. Fitness is fine.


Hooker 2 – has to wait for ball to go before releasing. Half getting caught at the moment. Same as the rest, go forward when shutting gate. Fitness is ok.


Lock – locking up well from the inside. Good push / support. Fitness is good. He will play big minutes straight away.


Lock 2 – working hard and starting to improve again. Still needs to get up straight and protect inside shoulder but is working hard from inside. Has to do job then move onto next quicker. Getting caught on lead and not releasing quick enough sometimes. On get outs needs to dent line, tipping on at moment too much. Can run a play for himself to get some weak shoulders or use the show instead of tipping on. Fitness needs work but should be ok by trials if he does a little more


Left back rower – coming along well. Just got to keep getting up straight and steadying. Needs halves to play straight and engage to get him one on one on the edge. His line is being taken by the hard overs at the moment. Fitness is good.


Left back rower 2 – Got up a steadied well in D, release was pretty good. Didn’t get to see much in attack (same as above notes really). The skipping overs messed up his timing a little off the halves, done well to readjust his line late.


Right back rower 2 – trying hard to learn. Just needs to understand the spacing and getting up straight. Wants to defend a man but he is getting much better at it. Being aggressive which I like. In attack he ran some good lines. Just needs to stay straight and cut late and work a little on timing, missed the jump a couple of times.


Session Ideas for Next Week


Tuesday – Defence based


Tuesday has to be our contact night coming into trials so we can recover before the trial and then recover from the game to work on it again the following week.


Wrestle / tackle tech – 10 mins


Markers A, B, C - work on spacing / getting up straight. Keep them on a shoulder. Attack work on ruck plays. 1 tackle only. Two shoulders lock in, doesn’t have to be full on smash but we have to get in front and make initial contact. 10 mins.


Slab – 5 mins. Just to prepare for harder contact.


Rolling ruck up C2 – tights, back rowers, and centre, halves, or wingers, defending outside them. So 8-10 defenders v 9 – 11 attack. Attack work on get out sets, defence work on controlling ruck, slowing ptb, etc. Put a fb in behind the defence to make them talk/get boys used to responding to them. 4 sets of 4 tackles, (jog back to start) then swap defenders. 20-30 mins


Conditioning – 10-15 mins.


Thursday – attack based


Catch pass along line / run our plays to familiarise names – 5min


Unders drill – 5 min


3 v 2 v 1 – 10m wide by 20m long. Two defenders on 10m line, 1 on 20m. Work on playing straight, holding up A, correct lines on B, and push/support – 10 mins


Cluster plays – 10m x 10m. 4 v 3 in that tight space. Defenders on both edges and one in middle. Isolate middle defender. One on one is a win. Work on lead runners and tight lines - 10 min


Left v right – 30 min


Conditioning – 10-15 mins everyone.


Keep the same sessions for the next fortnight. Can do some oppose v each other where the conditioning is, and shorten the rolling ruck / left v right up a bit about two weeks out from trials to start working as a team. Start with set starts and then some periods of end to end for a couple of sets.

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