I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to gain work experience, coaching and supporting sessions run by the School Of Hard Knocks (SOHK) at Allianz Park; home of European Champions, Saracens. The sessions included appearances from former Saracens man David Strettle, as well as Matt Stevens and Dan Scarborough.
As this was my first experience of being ‘on the other side’ of the game, it was a pleasure to understand and learn how to use different coaching techniques with a variety of abilities, ages and personalities.
My favourite experience of the day, excluding my stash takings, was the opportunity to see first hand how the SOHK coaches managed to provide all feedback in a positive and constructive way, which for me is crucial to successfully coaching youngsters. It instils confidence within the players, which in turn leads to increased enjoyment and thus a higher number of youngsters playing and returning to play rugby.
Outside of rugby, the School of Hard Knocks’ philosophy and style leads to players developing a high self-esteem, and as a result they become more motivated to undertake challenges in their lives. The series focuses on areas across the UK, where unemployment is high and opportunities lacking. Thus, these tools are invaluable to the players to ensure they have the ability and belief to change theirs and their families lives for the better.
It’s brilliant to see them develop the confidence to actively gain employment and turn away from adverse routes in life. It also shows what a powerful tool sport can be in terms of changing peoples lives.
As an aspiring player, seeing coaches such as David Strettle, Matt Stevens & Dan Scarborough, offering advice and guidance to the younger generation was not only invaluable for the players attending the sessions, but also for myself. The coaches passed on knowledge and created a positive atmosphere that truly testified to the ethos of the oval balled game, and It’s an experience that I am grateful to both SOHK & coaches involved for. It was a true learning curve and eye-opener!