To which I say: why should knowing next to nothing about a subject prevent me from publishing a guide about said subject for anyone who is willing (or silly) enough to read it? (It never has before).
So, with that preamble out of the way, why get involved in coaching youth rugby at all?
I could trot out the somewhat trite reply that it is an honour and a privilege to be involved in bringing through talent for the future. Which is true, I suppose, but far from the completely honest answer, which has more to do with the fact that if I’m expected to turn up with my son to training on a regular basis I may as well at least pull on a pair of boots and run around a bit.
What I have found, though, is that any pre-conceptions I had about coaching kids have gone right out of the window.
I had assumed, for instance, that having been a reasonable player in my time, passing on rugby knowledge to the boys would be relatively straightforward. Wrong.
I had assumed that the boys would listen to what I had to say. Wrong.
I had assumed that once I’d showed the boys what it was that I wanted them to do, they would then do it. Wrong.
I had assumed that once they had succeeded in doing something in training, they would then replicate it the next time they played. Wrong.
What I failed to realise is that, much like for a 17 year old learning to drive, there is one hell of a lot to take in for for kids learning to play rugby.
So, what are the answers?
Buggered if I know, if I’m honest, but here is what appears to have worked so far:
- Keep the boys that want to mess about apart so that they are in separate groups with players who are keen to work hard and learn - peer pressure can be a wonderful thing;
- KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) - work at one thing at a time with plenty of repetition until it becomes second nature;
- Dust off your sense of humour and have fun – if you’re enjoying it then, more than likely, so are the boys.
It’s hardly ground breaking advice, I know, but what I would say is that, despite my own pretty negligible contribution, I have been astonished at the ridiculous and disproportionate pride I have felt when the team comes together and plays well.
It’s natural enough for me to be proud of my son (who, to be fair to him, has enjoyed a cracking season) – but the vicarious sense of achievement generated by a bunch of 13 year olds - most of whom I hadn’t even met a few short months ago - is, quite frankly, ludicrous.