Vary Training Sessions With Short Games

February 5, 2016

At this time in the season it is often difficult for coaches to keep players motivated. The cold, along with the repetitive nature of training can lead to a number of issues for a club’s coaching staff.

Next time you’re struggling for inspiration or ideas for coaching drills, throw some short-sided games into your training. 

Short-sided games (5-6 a side) are a great way to mix up your normal training session for a number of reasons:

Skill Development

Having a smaller number of players means they’re likely to get more touches of the ball on a regular basis and so have a better opportunity to develop and improve their skillset.


Less people on the pitch means players need to work harder. There is no place to stand out on the wing and wait for the ball to come to you (like I have done many times). Instead, players are involved around the ball continuously and have to put in a big shift.  


Keeping players mentally stimulated and providing some variety will mean better results and consistently high numbers to team training sessions. It’s important for team’s that they get to train together as often and regularly as possible so their chemistry and synergy can develop – keeping sessions varied will help entice players to training on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Example game: 

Teams of 5-6 playing in the width of the 22m. Have more games running at the same time if needed. 

Begin the game with the normal rules of a game of touch. After the defensive player makes the touch they will turn and run to their defensive try line. Once they have touched the try line they can then re-join the play. 

For the attack this means that after two - three touches, space will quickly become available and it will then test their attacking innovation and ingenuity to see if they can spot the gaps and make the most of their advantage.

After a try is scored the attacking team can directly play in the opposite direction to keep the game constantly moving. (you can now see how it’s great for the fitness)

For me it's important to keep the games short and encourage players to work hard. I’d say a maximum of 3-4 minutes of intensive play. Whilst the players are resting and hydrating this is a great time for coaches to provide some feed back for the players.

Play, hydrate, feedback, repeat (better).


If you want to put particular emphasis on an area for that week try and incorporate that into the short games. 

For example:

Problem: Our support play was to slow.

Rule change:

Make it compulsory for the attack to have an immediate "latched" player after a touch is made. Once the latcher is on to the ball carrier, the ball carrier can go to ground (support player in a good position over the ball) and the ball can be played. Then the game continues as normal. 

Happy training! 

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