Play Rugby and learn English

Coaching | Game based learning



At The Rugby Academy we promote active and effective learning and ownership of that learning through creating awareness, responsibility and self-belief and also enhance the intellectual, physical and social development of the learners with a variety of coaching styles involving both coach centred and athlete centred components.

We aim to create independent, confident and motivated athletes able to guide themselves.

Happiness in participating, Empowerment and Autonomy are fundamentals areas, which we allow athletes to experiment constantly.

The coaches enlighten while creating athletes with a great desire for learning. Coaches enable athletes to learn effectively due to their knowledge and preparation and the ability to coach.

Happiness in participating is promoted at all times especially when the element of pressure and the V.U.C.A. environment kicks into the skills acquisition process during a game based educational momentum. At that moment in time athletes are happy, aware and able to take responsibility for their own effective learning with self-propelled elements of courage typical during the crucial moments of discovering and pioneering.


How does a coach achieve this momentum considering the following?

  1. Different groups and different individuals have different needs
  2. Short-term and long-term retention of learning increases with a combination of telling, showing and experiencing
  3. That people learn best when they help set the learning objectives and have ownership of the learning process
  4. That people are happier when they feel they are accepted and looked after with respect as individuals and as part of a group with fairness.

We use a HOLISTIC APPROACH which includes principles of leadership, empowerment, emotional intelligence, athlete learning preferences, Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU), game-based approach (GBA) within increasingly V.U.C.A. environments, Inner Game, implicit motor learning and experiential/discovery learning with an authentic respect for each individual willingness to achieve happiness while participating in rugby.

We encourage coaches to use a broader range of coaching styles and behaviours at different parts of the Coaching Continuum:

Coach centred <==> Athlete centred

Using a Game-Based Approach (GBA) appropriate to particular situations or circumstances such us types of athletes, age and size groups, with the aim to increasingly raise athletes’ self-awareness, gives them greater responsibility for their own learning and leads to an outcome of increased athlete self-belief.
Therefore the coaches are well trained and have the knowledge of various techniques/strategies in order to

  • Be able to identify the factors that determine his/her choice of coaching style
  • Be able to choose the approach that is more appropriate for the circumstances
  • Be able to get people to learn effectively
Coaches have the knowledge of various techniques/strategies and are able to choose the best among them to help athletes to understand, learn and /or perform.



The role of the coach is to help athletes learn and create change in order to improve athlete performance.
At the camps, we create a safe and secure environment that encourages this process, in which educators (coaches, teachers and staff) can efficiently communicate with the athletes.
The process involves (The coach as communicator must be aware of what the process involves such as):
  • The concept of sending/receiving
  • The coach has thoughts, feelings, or intentions he/she wishes to convey
  • The coach transmits messages
  • Messages are received and interpreted
  • The athlete responds

“Messages are communicated verbally and non-verbally which involves the use of both the eyes and ears.
The way the message is conveyed (body language, emotion, etc.) affects how the content of the message is received” (Fabrizio Chiavelli, 1995)

Some ways to help raise athlete awareness and increase understanding are:

  • Modelling or demonstrations
  • Asking questions/providing feedback (an art in itself)
  • Giving effective instruction
  • Letting athletes just do it (athletes learn when the coach is not talking).

Some ways to help raise athlete awareness and increase understanding are:

  • Use of a rating scale
  • Encouraging a zero error situation 
  • Creating a picture in the athlete’s mind 
  • Use of video
  • Use of analysis
  • Setting a goal or creating a challenge for self-discovery (i.e. coaches set up short-term objectives or challenges and help athletes achieve these)
  • Subliminal learning (amplified V.U.C.A. environments)
With the aim of giving athletes responsibility and ownership of their learning through leadership opportunities and empowerments for learning.

Increasing athletes self-believe arise from the athletes experiencing a positive environment and success and coaching that helps athletes to gain more confidence and self-belief.
“Success bread success” (Robert Barkley, Lytham St Annes, England 2007).




How do we stimulate the learning? Many of the learning situations are encouraged by questions.
Questions can:
  • Raise athlete awareness
  • Builds a positive team environment.
  • Focuses on individual and team learning
  • Encourage problem solving and creativity
  • Shift the athletes’ focus to promote learning
  • Stimulate biomechanical responses
  • Encourage responses that supply additional information to the coach

Different types of questions include open, closed and directive questions and questions to raise awareness, promote thinking and promote comparing, rating, analysing and/or discovery.

The approach relies on effective use of listening and questioning referred to as “pull and ask.”

Asking a question to the right athlete at the right time, listening to the response and using the athlete’s response to follow up or probe deeper is an art in itself.


Feedback refers to the information available to athletes during or after the performance.

Feedback can be positive, negative or neutral, external (explicit) or internal (implicit), immediate or delayed. Non-judgemental feedback is critical to learning.

Coaches can provide feedback at different levels from no feedback (just observing and saying nothing), zero feedback (a non-committal comment), negative and positive feedback, to more subjective approaches that encourage athletes to do, think and explore by themselves.

When to give feedback, the amount of feedback to give and the timing of feedback. It should raise awareness about coachable moments when the giving of feedback will best enhance learning. Feedback is an on-going process.



Effective Instruction

On the other side of the coaching continuum, Effective Instructions are key to the learning process in particular situations or under specific circumstances

Passing on information and giving instructions are essential parts of the coaching process.

Some situations where giving instruction is appropriate are:

  • Where there are time constraints
  • Where there are safety issues
  • Where athletes want/need to be told
  • Setting up a new activity

Instructions can still encourage feel/flow and raise awareness. Directions can be used to prompt athlete thinking, reflection or self-exploration. (For example, a coach can say, ‘try this and tell me how it feels’).

Instructions should be clear, simple, have a single focus and there should be checks that athletes have understood.


Helping Athletes Learn with a Game based approach

The importance of athlete’s learning and practising in a realistic context.

With Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU) and the use of progressive activities are a good way of achieving this.

We are aware of the advantages of a game or activity-based approach to develop both technical and tactical skills and at the same time to enhance player creativity, resilience, confidence and team cohesion.

In this context, we focus on what the players learn and on how a player’s Creativity (problem-solving), Awareness, Resilience, Decision making and Self-organisation capabilities can be enhanced

We use games that allow players to have opportunities to solve problems or guided experience or discovery as a go-to teaching tool.

Player-centered coaching actively engages players in their own learning and can lead to greater understanding, stronger retention of skills and tactics and enhanced technical application on the field.

Practice is the best opportunity to simulate a competitive environment and challenge players to think for themselves, work creatively and make strong independent decisions. As a result, a player-centred coaching approach is more appropriate to improve understanding, support learning and critically develop performance.

“The players’ development, learning experiences and their love of playing rugby have been placed at the heart of the PLAY rugby programme. This approach has had over the years a real positive impact on athletes of all nationalities with excellent sports and educational results and We are looking forward to working with more players and club for the foreseeable future.”

At Play Rugby we are glad to work with leading school and club, teacher, coaches and tutors and staff that embrace and use correctly this philosophy.


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