The importance of play and enjoyment

The importance of play and enjoyment has been a constant theme through the modules on child development. It should again be mentioned here as there is a temptation to make physical training more structured and rigid rather than fun and explorative. Coaches must always remember that they are coaching children!

A child may not grasp how important physical capacity development is to their performance in the game of rugby. At this stage, the child is much more focused on playing the game rather than the physical capacities that will allow them to excel at rugby in later life. Within the age range of childhood, the players are still in the FUNdamental stage or learning to train stage of the long term athlete development model discussed earlier. This means that the coach should be looking for activities or games that will be fun and enjoyable for the child and which also develop a targeted physical capacity. This is one of the main challenges facing coaches when working with children in team sports such as rugby where the coach will often have large numbers of players to coach at once. Most activities and games will indirectly have an aspect of conditioning or training of a physical capacity. It is up to the coach to be creative and adapt these games and activities to target the physical capacity they want to work on whilst ensuring fun and enjoyment for the young players. Rugby skills can also be targeted at the same time as physical capacities and with effort and creativity the coach can create a very efficient training plan.