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Rugby Coaching Advice: Keep the Doubt Out

Maybe it’s social media, but I seem to be seeing a lot more coaching positions advertised. Some offer remuneration of sorts, some don’t.

Commitment is personal. You accept an appointment, and you give as much as you want, somewhere between taking the session and totally living the role. In years gone by, players paid their subs and played every week. Not so now. The coach never had to ask on Facebook, who is coming to training on Tuesday?

Many players look at the fixture list and put a X against a long away trip.

The coach was the enthusiast, the driver, the motivator, the innovator, and at times the councillor.

Many clubs are struggling to find volunteers, let alone coaches. Many players retire and just disappear. Many clubs don’t have a succession plan for coaches.

Obtaining a coaching certificate does not necessarily mean, “I’m available to coach at a higher level at the club.”

Some of the best coaches, literally just fall into the job. A casual comment over a beer and suddenly a star is born. He or she just needed asking.

They don’t worry about coaching certificates; they just get on with the job. I have worked with many like this, and they have been exceptional and great to work with. Generally, they are instinct driven, enthusiastic and don’t suffer fools gladly. Players thrive off this type of coach. They love the down to earth, tell it as it is approach. This type of coach, keeps the doubt out.

Mental strength is a society issue. There is so much negativity about, and you must look at the colour of a premier league football managers hair to know that the pressure can take its toll.

In everyday life many people are struggling to face daily work challenges and are refusing to accept appointments unless there is a work at home element, more important than salary now!

If you lose 3 games on the trot as a rugby coach, it’s hard to walk into the clubhouse. You feel everyone is looking at you. Then the questions and comments. When you walk out of the clubhouse you must switch off. Don’t take the criticism home with you! Don’t become a win/loss coach. Stay a coach.

Keep the doubt out…. how?

• Accept whatever has happened, has happened.
• Concentrate on the key performance issues.
• Allow space between the end of the game and preparing the next session.
• Compartmentalise your time. A fast 30 mins of prep is better than half a day of frustration.
• Physically, if you feel good, you think good.
• Your drive, motivation and instinct all go through your core, I believe. Tighten it up and the adrenalin and enthusiasm will flow because this is the real YOU.

No-one is immune to keeping the doubt out. Coaches who enjoy their coaching deal with this issue of doubt.

Take on the challenge of coaching, fight the frustration, always be enthusiastic, build a similar ethos in the coaches who coach with you.

Occasionally, do odd things. Hold a coach meeting at 6:30 am at a local café. Lots of successful strategies have been agreed over a coffee and bacon sandwich.

As a coach, most players and club members will admire your style, although it is seldom stated.

Maybe 1% of the coaching population win cups.

The enjoyment must come from trying to win them. Your chances will be greatly improved if you can “keep the doubt out”.

Coaching thought:  “Timing beats speed. Precision beats power.”


About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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