Transform your
team's season with
professionally
planned sessions

Use our expert plans or build your own using our library of over 1100+ drills, and easy-to-use tools.

I coach Under 11's I have two players that do all the right things in training but when the game starts they will not pass. They do score tries but I think we could score more if they passed. What can I do? Gary SWales

Ask a question and have it answered by Coaches from around the world and Sportplan's team of Experts.

Personally, i'd drop them from the starting lineup, swallow the potential loss, and talk them through the opportunities of the game whilst it in flow......

Try setting them personal goals for the game, for example they have to make 5 passes to a team mate during the first half - then have a very quick chat at half time to let them know how they went, then see if they can match or beat this for the second half. Then when it comes to training, have them stand out individually (along with other team members in rotation) to see how the team works together when passing and highlight the benefits to them. Good luck.

Hi Gary, Quick question is response to your question...what position do they play?

In response to Stephe Kruger....one plays at centre and the other is a prop. At under 11's, the positions are still a little vague, however, in time I think the centre will become a wing forward. He has all the atributes of a typical flanker. The prop will probably become a hooker.  Gary South Wales

Hi Gary, I empathise - I had the same issue. We scratched our heads about this one, and eventually realised that we didn't want to lose their strike power, but at the same time needed the continuity that they were not providing. We shifted the centre 1 out to play 13 instead of 12. With the smaller fields that they invariably play on, we found that ball seldom gets beyond 13 anyway. We then put the prop (in our case he was a hooker) on his shoulder for all phases beyond set pieces, and encouraged the prop to pick and go from the 13 taking it up (and going to ground). This allowed 2 things: 1)invariably a try was scored, or 2) it allowed the other forwards more time to get to the next breakdown after the pick and go. Obviously this won't work ALL the time, but it did provide us with an avenue whilst we worked further with them on the training paddock to keep their heads up and look for the offload. Hope this helps Stephe

Many thanks for the answers and the time taken to reply. I will try and bring these into practice. Gary South Wales

Gary: You could use conditions on them' [and the rest of your squad] - min. 3 passes; passer must receive the return pass; always carry the ball in two hands etc. Another option in training is to get these two players to oppose each other, and individually brief them - "you know 'Billy' or 'Fred' never passes, so he is easy meat for a good tackle". Even the most avid ball-hogs do not like being boshed over and overf again. In my experience the off load and continuity skills improve dramatically after a couple of tackles.

Having read over this thread, I would change my initial response. Rather than assuming this was a 'negative' on behalf of the players, it feels more like they have what I call 'match tunnel vision' (made up of course!).

I firmly believe that from the ages of U9 through to U13, players shouldn't be stereotyped and shelved into certain positions, just cause little Jonny is a bit fat and 'looks like a prop'. Only in the U14 season should coaches start to look at players fitting into certain positions, and by that age, all players should have enough experience of the game, they themselves will be more comfortable settling into a suitable position.

Setting a player up in a certain position so young, is setting that player up for failure.

Why? Because when the time comes when little Jonny sheds all that weight and grows rapidly in height, all that time spent coaching and playing him at prop would've been time wasted. Little Jonny generally becomes discarded then. I've seen so many players with potential leave the game, just because their coaches have positionally cubby holed them.

Without digressing to far from the question, I would suggest that you move them around position wise, let them have a feel of how to play other positions, BUT, make sure that all players are coached to scan at a very early age. By scanning I mean whats in front of them, whats in support of them, in the tackle/contact area.

Scanning practices are easier than a lot of people think, but a lot of coaches don't use them cause they think they maybe too sophisticated. I ran a contact session for coaches last night and did a simple scanning in ruck and tackle practice. All you need is 2 hands - preferably with all the digits -, and/or 2 -3 cones. Start by asking a player to tackle another player front on, stand behind the tackled player and as he/she is tackled, hold a coloured cone up or hold up a number of fingers. When the tackle is complete, ask the tackler what colour cone you just held up or how many fingers. Normally they won't be able to tell you first time, but they soon start to open their eyes more to scan, AND the biggest positive is that your missed tackle % will decrease very quickly.

I have other scan practices if anyones interested???

thanks for that, Denis. I already have tried moving the players around..i.e. put the centre in the second row and the hooker at centre. I appreciate also that young players will change body shapes and hopefully size. At under 11's though, you have to start somewhere and sometimes the shape of the player and the skills dictates where they play. If they are talented enough, they will be able to play anywhere - given instructions as to what you are looking for them to do. Interesting to read though and greatly appreciated. Gary South Wales

I agree that the shape of a player can dictate where they play. If someone genuinely isn't confident to play in the front 5 at U11, for whatever reason, maybe its up to the coach and player to agree a certain amount of practice in this area for that player to become confident.

I have a player that now plays for Saracens academy and for the SE divisional squad, who was playing at prop at U13 before I started to coach the side, because of his shape and size. 3 yrs on, he's playing at centre/wing for those representative sides.

I think talent will show through whatever, I think what we're talking about here is development. To me, that means improving a player that isn't so good or is mediocre into a good team player, and showing a talented player his/her full potential.

hi i have had the same issues with my u9 team with certain players able to score almost at will and unwilling to pass.however ive found that random scoring during training has helped.by random scoring i mean that if a player scores with a run from a restart they only score 1 point but each pass made adds another point also extra point can be awarded for rucks mauls etc.have found that this has opened there minds to the idea that passing benifits the ope this whole team. hope this helps it did for me as we have now only lost 1 game this season and for the first time in three years we have prevented the opposition from scoring in the last three fixtures.

Try playing 'Clock' scoring in training (similar to clock darts) ; players on each team have a number say 1 to 10 and they have to create scoring chances for the next player in turn. Try to keep players in position and their team mates will have to work out how to create scoring opportunities for that player. It will develop awareness and learning team discipline.

as previously been sad try to play your centre on the wing and the prop on the other wing as they are less likely to receive the ball from players of a young age which in turn might encourage the to pass when they return to their normal playing position start in training with this option

yes denis i would be interested in your scanning practises

Ok Ian, I will draw some up and place them under a different thread for discussion on scanning.

Following up on my origional question,,, The prop has now moved to inside centre and is enjoying his time in the regional under 12's. His school also plays him on the wing. So as I said in the begining, body sizes change, however this lad hs not developed to bulky and is very athletic. As for the other lad, well time will tell. Thanks all for your input.

Always great to hear a success story. Well done Gary

Join now for free

  • search our library of 1100+ rugby drills
  • create professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans
Join now for free
  • search our library of 1100+ rugby drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans