Lee Smith's Coaching Corner: The Development of Attacking Play (Part 2)
02 May, 2011
Part 2 - What do we have to achieve in order to meet attack’s needs?
We could say place a greater emphasis on the performance of the skills of the game getting the key factors correct. More passing, more emphasis on evasive running, more kicking but in doing this, even if we increase the intensity using a coaching progression, we haven’t put the situation in context.
It is recognised that some repetition is necessary to develop techniques and the progression develops the skills but the game played in context seldom results in repetition. The context is the playing situation which is always changing, the skill requirements are continually being altered and the players’ roles are changing.
A step in this direction is to coach in context so that the initial decision a player is making is the functional role they are to fulfil given what has taken place in the immediate past, what is taking place now and what the player will now do to add value to the situation. The player identifies the role and then performs it based on the key factors for the role.
There is no doubt that the tools of key factor analysis (KFA) and functional roles analysis (FRA) have a place here but it is not the list of functional roles and the list of key factors attributable to each role that should take our attention. It is in using them as tools from which functional roles for the situation will be identified and to then perform the key factors in context. So you are coaching a process not the dogmatic implementation of a standard set of criteria.
Please realise that this is for those who are playing and have played at a high level for some time as we are teaching them to play what is in front of them in context. More prescriptive coaching is warranted at other levels giving the players a blueprint for play from which they will develop into the process that has been explained.
Never overlook the importance of both these tools, KFA and FRA, and their prescribed checklist to coach players successfully at lower levels. By doing this you give the players something to work from and, in time, they will progress to the level we are explaining here.
So far we have mentioned individual situations that players are moving into and out of during a game. There are also a range of variables that provide the context of decision making on a macro scale and it is these that players are showing an equally poor appreciation.
These variables are:
• The context of the game in the rugby season.
• The team’s position on the table in relation to where they want to be and the relative position of today’s opponent.
• The team’s team profile, game profile and patterns of play.
• The opposing team’s profile and, by comparison with ours, the game plan for today.
• Weather, the state of the field etc.
• Field position.
• The score and time remaining.
• Attacking options during play that fall into 2 categories, those the opposition defence is closing down and those the opposition defence is having trouble with.
• Dare I say it – match officiating. More next week.
Lee Smith is a senior rugby development officer with the International Rugby Board and travels widely around the Pacific region coaching, developing and promoting the game.
Part 1 - What is the problem?