Start To Look Beyond The Technical Game! image
Posted on March 8th 2019 by Richard Hicks

Start To Look Beyond The Technical Game!

Continuity is often seen as being a ruck or a maul yet one of the key indicators of a team’s ability to maintain possession, go forwards and apply pressure is the number of passes they make. It is a raw piece of data that does not signify success in winning but it does allude to a strategy. For example:

  • During Wales v England in the last round of the 6N – Wales made 153 Passes to England’s 98. Wales used this Passing game to make 163 runs compared to England’s 40. Wales won.
  • However in England v Ireland: Eng passed the ball 105 times compared to Ireland’s 194. England then made 106 runs compared to Ireland’s 156. England won.
  • In 2018 England passed the ball 216 times compared to Ireland’s 136 And England made 160 runs compared to Ireland’s 123. Ireland won.
  • In 2017 England made 89 passes compared to Ireland’s 157 and made only 85 runs compared to Ireland’s 130. Ireland won.

So what do these stats tell us? Well not a lot considering that the winning team sometimes passed less, sometimes more. Overall however when looking at skill performance we can also look at effort and outcomes.

As well as recording the number of technical skills such as the above I’ve written down some questions you should also be asking yourself or your team.

  • Passes: How good is our catch & pass?
  • Runs: Are we going forwards, if so how far?
  • Offloads: Are we offloading to support going forwards?
  • Kicks: Do they create pressure, relieve pressure?
  • Turnovers: How are we using turnover ball?

The context of the game is essential for us to understand how we execute these skills, just saying we passed the ball more or completed more offloads or runs is only part of the story.

As coaches we need to be able to see beyond the technical and into the tactical aspects of the why, not only the how. For example, are we playing in the right areas of the pitch? Are we using the right skills at the right time?

Looking for more proof on why the technical isn’t everything this 6 Nations?

  • Wales performed 376 different skills compared to England’s 247 and won.
  • England performed 252 different skills compared to Ireland’s 425 and won.

So what is it that determines how a team wins?

Video: What Makes a Winning Team

Creating a winning or high performance environment is not just about coaching the technical aspects and game application of these but also how the team performs together. There are some really interesting psychological theories that account for effort and performance. Social Loafing or the Ringlemann Effect are significant factors to take into account and we will discuss these in the next campaign – alongside behavioural approaches to coaching and learning.

A final word is left to Stuart Lancaster who many believe was the best coach England have had for many years, but who was maybe too early in his own coaching journey. His words of wisdom about creating a performance culture ring are very true:

Video: Stuart Lancaster on Culture
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