It is that time of year that many players and coaches dread, but even more look forward to, the building block of the coming season and the coming together of team mates old and new.
I will outline some pointers to help you plan and structure your pre-season to optimise the sessions for your players.
Pre Season Plan
Whatever level you are coaching at you will need to have a clear plan for your pre-season schedule. Write this down and share it with your fellow coaches and players. This plan will allow you to see how your team is progressing towards the first game and allow the players to review what has been achieved so far and what you have planned in future sessions.
Key factors during pre-season
- Don’t push the players too hard too soon
- Don’t try and cover too much too soon
- Encourage individual players to take ownership of their fitness and conditioning so you can concentrate on coaching rugby skills
- Make it fun
In a typical club environment pre-season training will start in the first week of July and will run until the first week in September. You might also have a pre-season training camp and a number of practise matches.
It is very unlikely that all your players will attend all the sessions. To help manage this situation effectively, it would be a good idea to produce a summary of each session.
The coaching sessions will generally be Monday / Wednesday or Tuesday / Thursday and last approx 1hr 45mins to 2hrs. This means you will only have a maximum of 16 sessions or 32 hours to organise your team for their first meaningful game.
- Have a clear plan of what you and your squad want to achieve in the coming season. Make this realistic and measurable
- Have a clear and agreed philosophy how you and your squad want to play the game
- Get the buy-in from all players and let them establish their own ‘standards and values’ for the pre-season training. This will need to cover their attendance, availability, extra fitness/conditioning work
- Establish the number of sessions available to you and the availability of your players during this time
- Have a clear understanding of what can you realistically be covered in the sessions available to you
- Prioritise. You don’t need to cover all the topics.