Learning to train

The main objective in this phase of the model is to learn overall sports skills (Canada Sport Institute, 2014). The chronological age range associated with this stage is males 9-12 and females 9-11. According to Balyi and Hamilton (2004) specialised sport skills are developed from age seven to age eleven.

One of the most important periods of motor development for children is between the ages of 9 to 12 and this is shown on the windows of opportunity figure on the previous page. During this time children are developmentally ready to acquire general overall sports skills that are the cornerstones of all athletic development (Balyi and Hamilton, 2004). Physical literacy is a big aim for this stage of the model as the coach wants their players to gain the confidence, competence and motivation to enjoy and play the sport of rugby (Canada Sport Institute,2014).

This stage of development is still very much focused on a games-based approach to learning the basic skills of the game and so the physical development of the player must fit into this. Children at this age may not have the concentration to complete very structured and formal physical training and so integration of physical capacity training within rugby drills and games is crucial. Speed, agility, strength, and flexibility are all important physical capacities for rugby performance and they should be developed in this stage. Warm-ups and cool-downs are good places to get some of this physical capacity work completed and then in the main training session the small-sided games should be designed to allow the player to develop technical, tactical and physical skills.