By Kimball Kjar
In my recent article I commented on the many roles, focusing on that of mentor, which coaches here in America have to occupy in order to run a successful program.
But one of the roles that coaches need to consider carefully is the aspect of scheduling.
Scheduling games for your rugby program is likely one the most time-consuming tasks that a coach must attend to. In the chaos of putting together a schedule often the process of developing players is sometimes overlooked.
Whether you have a large program with 10 teams or you are new program with just enough players to field an actual team, it’s important to profile your team.
It’s a fairly simple process: 1) Individual profile 2) Team profile 3) Team Goals.
Firstly, the individual profile. Get to know your players on a personal level. Get to know what makes them tick. Team socials and social media are good tools for this.
Most importantly, get to know their rugby skill level. There are a variety of tools for this, but a measurable approach of tracking passing, running, set piece play, rucking, tackling and kicking, where applicable, is advised.
Based on these off and on the field assessments you can get a good idea for strengths and weaknesses that, to use a modern social media term, are “trending” within your team.
Secondly, based on those trends, a team profile can be built. Again strengths and weaknesses can be identified for the team, positional groups, depth charts, etc. using matrices that can be easily tracked.
And again, general patterns of your team’s identity begin to emerge. I’ll expound on this more in the coming weeks.
Lastly, the goals of the team should be considered. What do you want to achieve this year? As a team and as a coaching staff, what do you expect to gain this year as program?
Sometimes more games are the answer while sometimes less games will also do the trick. And of course, the type and level of competition should be considered as well in order to match your program’s goals and in ways that the will test your team’s strengths and hopefully strengthen their weaknesses.
For example, before this season at BYU we took a hard look at scheduling the right balance of men’s division competition in conjunction with our regular conference and other pre-season matches.
As we’ve reviewed our past performances, particularly in championship games, some of the lessons that we’ve tried to deliver never were driven home on account of weak scheduling. The profile of our team dictated that they learn by doing, not by being told.
As such we recognized that in order for our team to grow it meant being put under stress and pressure on more occasions than our team had been in the past.
And in reflection on last year’s season we just didn’t face the type of pressure that we needed to face in order to be ready for the pressure that we faced against a senior-laden Cal team in the 2011 championship.
So, with the individual and team profiles having been performed for this year and in conjunction with our team and staff goals, we’ve worked to build a schedule that will hopefully help us achieve our best performances on the field—particularly, when it matters.
This level of planning might seem irrelevant at the youth and high school levels where much of the scheduling is taken out of your hands. But if a coaching staff takes some time to understand their players’ and their team’s identity they’ll be able to match a proper schedule that will be built to help their team achieve their short and long-term goals.
Kimball Kjar established the Propel Rugby Academy in 2010 with the goal of helping players and coaches develop the skills necessary to play and coach at the highest levels possible. Kjar’s Propel Posts focus on a range of topics that cover player and coach development and other related areas.
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