What We Can Learn From The 6 Nations: Week 1! image
Posted on February 6th 2020 by Richard Hicks

What We Can Learn From The 6 Nations: Week 1!

This week the Six Nations coaches and their teams get to make decisions that grassroots leagues coaches make every week. They don’t get it right all the time either!

As a Head Coach or as part of a team of coaches we often have to make decisions week in week out based on the following:

  1. How did we play on Saturday?
  2. Who are we playing next?
  3. What are my player availabilities for the coming game?
  4. What can I control?

Masked behind fancy terms and definitions, international coaches will have had to answer many similar questions this week. Although their job and reputation is on the line, take pride in making these similar calls!

Video: Selection Policy

England face many challenges after losing to France. No coach of any level would go out and make wholesale changes to their team, even if they had lost by 30 points. Making changes on a game by game basis confuses players, demonstrates a lack of trust in the players to be able to fix the issues, and says to the outside world that the coaches have no real idea of how they can play as a team.

One big thing for England in particular will be providing feedback to all their players based on last Sunday’s game. At all levels you need to give feedback on performance to your players, obviously this feedback will differ greatly in the resources you have. Using Video or film clips allows you as the coach to provide a road map for the player to understand where they are and where they are going as Sport Psychologist John Neal explains below.

Video: Giving Feedback

There are several methods of giving feedback such as the Praise Burger:

  • BUN: Praise on a specific task performed
  • BURGER: Constructive feedback to improve the performance
  • BUN: Positive reinforcement to take onto the next task

Remember to focus on the good aspects, criticising players reduces their self-esteem which reduces their motivation and consequently their desire to improve.

So what about Scotland; their selection policy has reflected the value of team ethics or core values of the game. The exclusion of Russell again this week demonstrates really strong coaching and adherence to the values that the team have most probably created, agreed and understand. This will glue the team together.

As grassroot coaches, ignore these values at your peril, long term issues occur when you put winning above team values and how we treat each other.

Video: Core Values

Wales and Ireland have very different approaches, winning their first game allows the new coaching teams to be a lot more positive about their team, both in direction of how they play and operate off the pitch. New head coaches take time to bed in, do not expect quick and rushed approaches to changing a team’s game plan. We recommend that you use a similar approach whenever coaching someone new!

Quick prediction from me: Ireland to win, but that is because they are at home, otherwise it will be an even game, very exciting.