Carl Hayman's Tips for Coaching Sessions

October 5, 2017

E4R Director, Carl Hayman, is renowned for his world-class tight head play for Newcastle, Toulon and of course, the All Blacks. However, he's now settled in the South of France coaching Top 14 side, Pau – a job that he’s enjoying and learning a great deal from. 

I had a little chat with Carl to pick his brains about the essential ingredients that go into planning an effective and efficient training session. Below are his thoughts... 


You know the old saying; fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Going into a training session blind just won’t work; you need to know the level of your players, what your key objectives are and how long you want the session to be.

Take pre-season for example; there's no point doing a 2-hour destroyer on the first session back when you have a grassroots team who you know probably won’t have been keeping fit during the summer months; it'll be demoralising and detrimental. Be realistic in your preparations and ensure you know what you want to achieve from the session. Don't take it easy on them, far from it, just ensure there are clear goals instead of just busting their ass. 

Progression & Development

Just like you need to know what you want to achieve, you also need to know how you’re going to do it. Remember, although you’re training a team, you also have to focus on individual development and progression, in order to ensure the team moves forward at a similar rate.

Thus, make sure you set an intensity and difficulty that’s not outwith the abilities of some nor too easy for others; it's all about a healthy balance. 

Wiggle Room

If you don’t quite hit the ground running with your session and you can see that it may be slightly too tough, or the intensity is too high, make sure you’ve got a couple of tricks up your sleeve so that changes can be easily introduced.

For example, differing time restraints to put players under more/less pressure, or perhaps changing group sizes in order to lower/raise the work rate of individuals. Adaptability is key.


There’s no perfect training session. Something can always be tweaked or altered for more positive results; after all, it’s often the little changes that make the biggest differences.

But it’s not just what you thought of the session that counts…ask your players what they thought because although training should be grueling and testing, it should also be fun – that’s when you get the best results!

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