What a difference a year makes!

It was back in December 2017 that I met the coaches from Old Wimbledonians RFC –  Adam, Rich, Chris and Martin. I met them on their Level 2, all 3 are keen Dads who had given up their time to develop as coaches due to the kids moving from U8’s towards U9’s the following season. I really enjoyed their company on the course, their enthusiasm and clear passion for their group, but in particular I enjoyed quizzing Adam about all things culinary once I discovered that he was a Michelin starred chef!

As the course progressed I made a promise to visit them in their own club environment a year or so down the line to see how they were getting on and how useful the Level 2 coaching course had been for them!

So today exactly 14 months on from their course, I went down to Old Wimbledonians and met the Under 9 Warriors! It was a brilliant experience and here’s why…

On arrival, I saw the coaches setting up their pitches and leaving the kids to have some free play as they were arriving, it was great to see the coaches chatting about the session and what they wanted to achieve as objectives.

Todays session was about encouraging the kids to explore decisions around passing and moving the ball to space.

What I really liked was the coaches had designed their game to encourage this with using large coloured discs to challenge the kids to move the ball to certain “score zones”. It was a brilliant concept and game which the kids clearly enjoyed. I thought Adam was really effective as the game coach with the co-coaches delivering encouragement to the players from all sides of the play area. Adam used different objects, (football, rugby ball and vortex) to challenge the kids hand eye co-ordination. I observed lots of positive interactions from each of the coaches and it was clear to me how much the kids were engaged. Also very encouraging was how the parents were enjoying the session too (Actually wish I had asked some questions of parents to see what they were noticing!!)

After a really enjoyable session I joined the coaches Adam, Rich and Lee for a debrief and some reflection. I really enjoyed the candid conversation and the evident appetite to improve and get better for the kids. We talked about what they discovered in the session, what they struggled with, what they noticed, what they wish they had done differently. We talked about their best bits and best interventions…. An hour absolutely flew by! One of the key learning points from the reflections were to not worry so much about the technical and to focus a little more on the principles of play.

As I reflected on the session over the next day or so it highlighted to me just what an effective course the new England Rugby Coaching Award is. More importantly just what a brilliant environment the coaches have created and developed on the back of that learning. Definitely an environment I would recommend to any parents interested in getting their kids involved in Rugby. The warriors of Old Wimbledonians should be very proud of these coaches and the great job they are doing.

Things I really enjoyed

  • It was Active, purposeful, enjoyable and safe.
  • Parents were having fun too.
  • Different objects used for the kids to catch and pass
  • Loads of space
  • Great questions from the coaches
  • Constant encouragement
  • Supportive learning environment
  • I could see how much the coaches CARED for the players enjoyment

Really looking forward to popping back for a visit next season!



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