Our PhD student, Rob Owen, explains how Lions are preparing students...
The start of summer 2022 marked the end of my first time delivering the Lions Tackle Coaching programme. The pupils now have a chance to relax I get the opportunity to reflect, so I thought it would be great to share what we are beginning to find.
To bring you up to speed I was coaching in a state school coaching year 7 & 8 pupils as part of an after-school club. As part of the study, we performed fitness assessments as well as a rugby tackle assessment to see the effectiveness of the Lions Tackle Coaching programme. Also, we held informal discussions with the pupils and the parents to hear their thoughts and feelings on rugby and the Lions Tackle Coaching programme.
Before I get ahead of myself, let me remind you what the Lions Tackle Coaching programme is.
Lions Sports Academy wanted to address the declining participation in youth rugby and identified that one key stage of child dropout from the sport was around the U9 age group. This happened to coincide with the introduction of tackling.
So, the team at Lions developed a method to prepare young players mentally and physically for the demands of playing contact rugby by using science-informed coaching.
The programme was built on the principles of coaching young players to understand how to move their own bodies, how to move an opponent’s body and how to tackle.
I coached the pupils as part of the rugby after-school club once a week for 10 weeks. What did we find, you are likely asking?
During the fitness assessments, we noticed most children improved across the tasks. Most impressively all students demonstrated more control over their bodies in movement-related exercises. From experience, it is easier to gain faster development of any sports skill with children who move well, over children that may be initially better at the sport but cannot control their own body well.
The conversations with the pupils highlighted a vast improvement in confidence during collisions when playing rugby. One pupil said that initially, they were nervous about hurting themselves or an opponent when playing but now they understand how to tackle correctly they know that tackling with correct technique and confidence is what will keep both them and their opponent safe during a match or training.
Parents expressed that their children seemed more confident within themselves when it came to PE lessons and outside sports. One parent said their child, who struggles to commit to any sport, was enjoying the programme so much they were actively recruiting friends to join!
Now the question that made me most nervous whilst coaching was would the pupil’s skill of rugby tackling improve? I am happy to let you know that ALL students improved their tackle assessment scores!
This is now an exciting stage for the Lions team as we are preparing our coaches and teachers to deliver the Lions Tackle Coaching programme in more schools!
If you are a teacher who is interested in incorporating the Lions Tackle Coaching programme to improve the confidence and rugby contact skills of your pupils please contact Lions Sports Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help.
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