Off-Season Masterclass Report

The new rugby season is very much underway now, with the Rugby World Cup also in full swing and generating some great matches and already some very unexpected results.  My coaching focus has also now shifted onto my work at Reigate Grammar School in Surrey and Felsted School in Essex, two really ambitious establishments keen to improve their rugby, as well as at Ampthill RFC where we have begun our life in National 1 with three wins from three!

IMG_0220Just a few weeks ago however everyone was very much in the preseason phase, preparing for the coming winter of matches, and my mind was on the masterclass training camps I organised at Reigate and Ampthill, as well as my Summer rugby Academy at Hatfield, which will be completed for the year after this Sunday’s final session.

I began these classes specifically with the aim of keeping younger players fresh throughout the Summer with handling drills and skills they could practice, steering them away from contact sessions to allow their bodies to recover from the previous season’s efforts, yet keeping their hunger for the game in tact and fuelling their passion for rugby.

In the first week of September I then switched to an all-round rugby masterclass spread over two days at Ampthill RFC where the different age groups were split depending on the applicable rules, with specific exercises and drills to benefit the players whether in a tag, conditioned tackle or unrestricted environment.  The emphasis was placed on learning through fun and of course there was a definite focus on correct technique throughout.  I was overwhelmed at the response of the players on the pitch and also extremely grateful to parents who took the time to email with compliments and kind comments about the sessions in the days after the events.

IMG_0187On Wednesday at Ampthill I also held a specialist kicking clinic for players aged 11-17, which included a condensed version of some of the skills I have imparted to my Academy attendees over the Summer.  Simple instruction on exactly how to hold a ball when kicking and where to strike to get the desired result make a huge difference when practised until they become second nature in game time.  Also, the ability to kick just as well off both feet gives a player a big advantage and helps break down defences in attack as well as greatly enhancing a team’s exit strategy.

These are some examples of why these camps are so vital, and the feedback shows that as well as developing technique, we are also enthusing youngsters about playing the sport, and this makes my job so pleasurable.  Now into the season, there is just one more opportunity to join me for a masterclass this month, at my final academy session on September 27th.  Following this, keep an eye out for additional sessions during the October half term, or contact me to organise some individual coaching or sessions for a small group or team.  I look forward to having the opportunity to work with you in the near future and please do contact me with any enquiry you may have on:


The Importance of Summer Training for Young Players

Unlike the professional rugby season, there is a prolonged break from playing for younger rugby players who often finish their last games in April or May and are chomping at the bit to get back on the field when the season officially begins again in September.

Whilst a break from the game is vital, both in terms of recovery from injuries and exertion, but also to ensure the hunger remains and interest does not wane, it is however not advisable to stay away from rugby completely for over three months.  The most committed players, even at a younger age will, after a period of recuperation, begin pre-season training with some lighter running sessions to sharpen themselves up and ensure they maintain a good base fitness level.

I would suggest that general fitness should indeed be maintained, perhaps not exclusively through running however (try cycling or swimming for less intensity and pressure on the joints), but I would absolutely recommend that any player works on his or her skill levels consistently over the summer recess.  These skills are the very basis of what make a great player, and it is these skills that can make or break a game when the season begins.

Players work consistently throughout a season to develop their skills, only to neglect them come the Summer holidays.  In my opinion this is counter-intuitive, it is far better to concentrate on skills at a time when there are fewer distractions and matches to fit in, and therefore arrive at the beginning of the season with an already well-developed skill level, as opposed to losing skill-level over the break and having to start from the bottom again when September comes.

This is why my summer sessions with players focus almost exclusively on skills levels and techniques – using hands and feet to manipulate the ball from both sides and to develop spatial awareness and performance under pressure.  Players who join me over the Summer always remark on how far advanced they feel when compared to their peers once the season starts.  The drills I use are not designed to tire a player out, but instead to develop good habits and technique that become second nature in a game environment.  During the winter, I then hone, top-up and build on these skills in one to one lessons, but my summer masterclasses and Academy sessions give the perfect base to young and developing players, and I would therefore invite you to join me at one or more of my forthcoming events, to gain an advantage on your opposition when the season begins!

To see and book your spot on any of our available sessions, please visit the Masterclass page.

Disney Junior Rugby Festival 2015

9105It’s a busy time of year for Paul Turner Sport as we’ve been setting up the brand new Skills Academy, which began on 7th June, whilst the dust has really only just settled on another successful Disney Junior Rugby Festival.

Despite returning almost three months ago, the final paperwork and debrief meeting with Sport Experiences have only just been finalised and we can now begin to look ahead now to next year’s event, and start the process all over again.

This year was fantastic however, with 24 teams spread across the three age groups – Under 13, Under 14 and Under 15 – providing some cracking entertainment with some enthralling matches and great skills on the pitch. Off the pitch, there was the usual mix of laughter and fun as the youngsters, and their coaches, toured the Disney parks seeking thrills on the rides and the obligatory photo or two with the Disney characters!

9157For our part, the team of coaches we took over – George Chuter, Paul Burke, Alix Popham, Ma’ama Molitika, Morgan Stoddart, Gavin Thomas, Will James, Nic Sestaret, Tony Yapp, Jack Heald and Phil Williams – to accompany me, were all impressed with the attitude of the players who participated. Our Tuesday coaching masterclasses included three skills workshops looking at the core techniques of Breakdown Work, Creating Space and General Skills, as well a more specific positional session with drills relevant to each player.

9131All of the coaches I spoke with expressed how pleased they were with the way the Rugby Festival at Meaux was run and how much their players had learned from the coaching day we had put together. The value for money was another winner, many sounding surprised as they realised just what was included in the low cost! And of course, speaking with the boys who attended, they were all thrilled at having the opportunity to visit the Disney Parks and ride the attractions on a rugby tour; the smiles really said it all! All of this was of course topped off by the presentation event where the players were able to meet Welsh internationals Jamie Roberts and Luke Charteris and obtain autographs and pose for photos.

After all, the blend of rugby-based activity, skills progression, star player meetings and fun at Disney is what sets the event apart from other, more formulaic, rugby tours. This is why the rate of schools returning year on year is so high, and why more and more schools are coming along at Easter, a trend that looks set to continue in 2016.

Many teams, from both schools and clubs, will be touring at Easter 2016, and I would echo the thoughts of those who came in 2015 in urging you to consider a trip to Disney for a fun-packed 5 day visit that will improve your players skills and provide a sport experience you will never forget. For more information, please click here to download the brochure, or email us here!

All new bookings quoting code “PTS16″ will receive FREE tour T-Shirts for their entire party!