Friday, May 31, 2013

Pelham u11 Boys - Rugby and other sports

So, Thursday night I told my brother we were going to start his session with a little bit of rugby.  He wasn't sure if I was joking or not.

Some professional academies insist their younger players play other sports to develop the holistic athlete.

I also believe that a player's habits and ideas transcend all of the sports they play.  My middle son hadn't played hockey for 8 years.  He took it up again during the last year of midget house league.  Watching him play, I saw him pull every trick and tactic that he used on the soccer field, but on the ice.

By the same token, ideas that a player picks up in one sport, he will bring to the others.  If I brought a midget AAA hockey player to a pick up basketball game, you could bet he would be scanning the
court out of habit and find open players quickly.  His passing and shooting ability might be lower than the others, but his ideas would be bang on.

Back to the boys.  I've seen many of these boys (through my nephews) play hockey, now I am occasionally working with them in soccer.  I see similarities between their winter and summer habits. 

Here was my thinking.  I wanted to get in a warm-up.  I wanted to get to know this group better in terms of athleticism and decision making.  I wanted to improve their movement off the ball.

  • Athleticism required
  • Lots of running :) change of pace/direction
  • Hand-eye co-ordination.
  • Scanning the field.
  • Upper body movements
  • Head up to determine if you no longer have a path forward - constant decisions
  • Players off the ball need to get behind the ball and wide to support ball carrier and change the point of attack
  • Plenty of transitional moments
  • Covers the entire field quickly.  Length and width.
The boys enjoyed the rugby.  The ones that really got into it really built up a good sweat.   As a coach, I got what I wanted out of it AND I also noticed that how they played hockey and soccer was exactly how they played rugby.

So we used our opportunity there to give them some ideas.  Looking up while running.  Deciding to pass/run before they run out of space.  Position and mobility of teammates.  Using the width of the field on the attack.  Quality of pass.  Look forward before and after they get the ball.  SOUND FAMILIAR??

The characteristics for most team sports are the same.  It's a gutsy thing to do, include other sports.  make sure you have some points you want to inject and use the terminology that you would use for soccer.  When you restate the point in a soccer context, they'll remember the other situation and you may get that "a-ha!" moment you were looking for.

Into our next few soccer sequences they took some of those ideas with them and new ideas were easier to introduce.

What's next?  Basketball?  Handball? Maybe in a few weeks.