by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
With the domestic rugby calendar in full swing, there is a lot of coaching taking place around the nation. There are many dimensions to the craft of coaching, one of which is teaching your players where you want them to be on the field, and what tactics and techniques they should use to have a chance at achieving their goals.
In this offering, I would like to take a moment to either introduce, or remind, all coaches that there are multiple ways that our players best learn and how important it is that we keep this in mind while planning our training sessions, and coaching on the field.
We could easily become lost in all the scientific research conducted in the area of learning. Equally confusing can be the number of theories that have spawned from the research. I would humbly suggest that, in an effort to stay focused on the task, we limit our types of learners to three main classifications.
Ultimately, we as coaches should know our players well enough to identify what type of learners we have, and include all three methods of teaching when coaching the team.
Here at Cal, we have found that holding a technical meeting prior to a training session works well. In this meeting, we will present technical information regarding a certain aspect of the game and, within this presentation, teach to all three types of learners. We can then be more efficient out on the training field having used the technical meeting to introduce the tactics or techniques we are after in multiple learning formats.
Throughout all this teaching, there is a lot of fence-posting required. The term fence-posting refers to the process of restating over and over the key coaching points you are teaching. Seldom does a coach say something once and never need to repeat that coaching point again. More often, even the best players benefit from the key coaching points being reinforced over and over.
Lastly, be patient when you are teaching your players regardless of how they learn best. For some players the old adage of, “I love to learn, but I don’t like to be taught” is something all good coaches work through with their teams.
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand, the U.S. and England for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
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