One of the most common frustrations of modern Rugby League is we don’t produce enough “Quality” Pivots but do we ever stop to ask why?
The answer is, on fields all over the country on a Sunday morning where players develop playing for there community clubs however it doesn’t just stop there it also goes on during there time in Academy and Rep Football and IF they get to first grade we have the finished article a robot.
What is the problem I am talking about?
Players being “Told” what to do rather than been guided or in fact left to solve the problems themselves.
The worst culprits are the match day messages, you have a half back aged 12-16 playing the game learning each week but what are they learning? What are we teaching them?
I can give many examples and have witnessed this over a number of years watching games and observing training sessions, it is not just the pivots that get told what do but in this case I will focus on them.
Coaches sending messages or telling them to go at certain players because there poor defenders, shouting and telling them what sets to play or which side of the ruck to go, shouting for them to go on the short side or play a certain move all examples of how our young halves are developing there devolving into players who do as there told and ultimately they will only learn to play what they are told, wait for a message and play what they hear.
“Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon”
We all have that mentality and desire to win a game, that’s in our nature but for the sake of the players we are developing that must become secondary our priority is to develop good decision makers.
We can practice this by making our training as close to a game environment as we can.
If for example your working on recognising that a short side defence is skinny of numbers you need to condition the defence ask players to stay on the floor at marker or retreat to there positions slowly facing away from the Attack, now we need our Attacking players to recognise this and if they don’t ask them why not? Ask your players lots of questions don’t be afraid of long silences let them find the answer.
Guide them to make the decision let them come up with the play, importantly let them make mistakes this is what we learn from the most and when there in the same situation again they will come up with the right call – They have learnt not been told there’s a big difference.
Match days this philosophy will be tested your nature will want to take over and your patience has limitations, Ask yourself this Why are you coaching junior rugby league?
If your answer is to win trophies and go through seasons unbeaten then its not for you , if its develop your players make them better footballers on and off the field, excellent and thank you for giving up your time to assist in there development.
The coach with the second answer still wants to win still has a desire to be successful but it’s not the top of his list, ensuring he fosters the development of the young children and adults in his/her care.
The coach who wants to develop players will limit messages to players and let them find their own way, make mistakes lose games as painful as it is because they know there players will learn and develop, being able to read a game on their own eventually because they have guided them to the answers not TOLD them!