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Transcript of Sparta Rugby
special training guide
guaranteed to improve players Handling
INSIDE: The sparta Training programme
aCtion areas: hANd/eye co-ordINAtIoN footwork ANtIcIpAtIoN
300 reasons to choose sparta
Words by: Mark Lawford
RUGBY COACH WEEKLY 2
W hen asked to describe Sparta, creator Keith Holifield tells me The beauty of the session is that the drills are varied.
The ball is delivered at different trajectories and different speeds so players have to keep switched on for every second.
The Level 3 coach used Sparta with the Ospreys Academy and now with an U10s club team. He told Rugby Coach Weekly: After doing the Sparta skills session once a week for four weeks, I have seen massive improvements.
The activities are designed to improve ball awareness, co-ordination, anticipation and peripheral vision but they also develop speed, agility and quickness (SAQ) as well as reaction time. There is a strong anaerobic element, too.
Its a bit like the Spanish football concept of getting as many touches as possible and growing in confidence while in possession.
Holifield insists his Sparta plan is extremely time effective for coaches of all ages because it addresses many aspects of skill and fitness in a short space of time.
He added: I went to a rugby club one night and counted how many times one of their players touched the ball in a typical 90-minute session. It was 27 touches. In one of the Sparta sessions, I asked an injured player to count how
many times one of the academy players touched the ball - it was 279.
We used Sparta for four weeks last season in a sports hall when pitches
were unplayable and the Ospreys Academy players (aged 16-18) noticed the difference by the end.
The players have responded well to this type of training. Its different for a start, but high intensity, challenging and rewarding. Even during their 30-second rest they cant switch off because they are concentrating on feeding the ball to their partner and encouraging him to work hard.
Positioned to intercept
special training guideThe concept of Sparta was devised by ex-Ospreys coach Keith Holifield, while watching a netball coaching session at Neath College in Wales.
He was inspired to create a coaching plan of 10 different drills and activities that builds to give each player 300 touches of the ball in 30 minutes.
Named in reference to the film 300, where hopelessly outnumbered Spartans fought a million Persians, Sparta is a fantastic way of keeping all your players involved and interested in your sessions.
This guide begins with an interview that Keith Holifield gave to Rugby Coach Weekly on the Sparta concept, and then takes you through each of the 10 Sparta activities in turn. They are easy to follow and straightforward to coach, and Im certain they will help you improve the handling skills of all your players.
Yours in rugby
Dan CottrellHead Coach, Rugby Coach Weekly
1 Ball RetRieve 2 CatCh, Roll, pop, Roll3 high CatCh4 Ball DRop BlinD5 late ReaCtion
6 Diagonal liFtS7 BlinD paiRS8 Single-hanD paSS BaCk9 touCh anD Run10 kiCk BaCkS
on one typical club night i saw a player touch the ball just 27 times. in a sparta session there were 279 touches
Players work in pairs for Sparta, an intense half-hour skills and fitness session
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I want my players to touch the ball as many times as possible in pre-season training. The Sparta 10-activity programme works towards them handling the ball at least 300 times in 30 minutes.
It is an intense session, with lots of exercises you can repeat over the season to keep players switched on to the many different types of handling they are likely to use.
Key areas l Ability on the ball, with players touching the ball more often than a normal session.
l Hand/eye co-ordination.l Footwork.l Anticipation and reactions.
Work in pairs, 30 seconds on, 30seconds off, for two minutes.
300 touches, 30 minutes, 30-second intervals
Keith Holifield - Former Ospreys academy coach
CatCH, rOll, pOp, rOll1. A player lies on the ground with a ball carrier leaning over his head - he drops the ball to the prone player.2. The prone player catches the ball.3. He rolls over.4. He pops the ball back.5. He rolls back into position to repeat.
Direction of roll Pass
Ball retrieve1. Stand one player shoulder-to-shoulder with a ball carrier. 2. Get the ball carrier to throw or roll out the ball. 3. The other player retrieves the ball and passes it back.4. He then gets into position, running around to the other side of the starting ball carrier. Repeat only once the retriever is ready.
Direction of run Ground coveredPass
Words by: Keith Holifield
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HigH CatCH1. Stand the ball carrier and catcher 2-4m apart. 2. Get the ball carrier to throw the ball above the head of the catcher. He has to jump...3... catch and pass back before he touches the ground again.
Ball drOp Blind1. Stand the ball carrier opposite the catcher who has his eyes closed and arms out, elbows at his side. 2. Get the ball carrier to drop the ball between the catchers arms and hands...3... so the catcher has to react and gather the ball. 4. After he gathers, he passes the ball back, still with his eyes closed.5. He then does a press-up before repeating.
late reaCtiOn1. Stand a receiver 2m away from the ball carrier on a 5m line. 2. Get the ball carrier to throw the ball 2m left or right of the receiver.3. The receiver has to move and catch the ball.4. He passes back and resets himself in the middle.
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Diagonal lifts1. Get a player to sit on the ground with his legs spread in front of him. 2. He lifts a ball from one hip to his opposite shoulder...3... popping it to a player behind him. 4. The receiver then puts the ball on the ground.5. The player on the ground repeats the diagonal lift in the other direction.
BlinD pairs1. Stand a ball carrier behind the retriever. 2. He throws or rolls the ball either left or right .3. The retriever has to run forward to either catch the ball or gather it before passing back and resetting.
single-hanD pass Back1. Get a player to stand 2m away from a ball carrier along a 5m line. 2. Get the ball carrier to throw it left or right so the catcher can take and pass back the ball with one hand. 3. Make sure the catcher jumps and lands on his outside foot before he catches and then returns the ball.
3 4 5
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touch anD run1. Get a player to touch the ball with his right hand.2. The ball carrier throws the ball over the other players shoulder. 3. He runs back to catch, pass back and get into position.4. He then touches the ball with his other hand and the ball is thrown again.
kick Backs1. A ball carrier stands 2-4m away from the kicker. Get the kicker to stand on one leg and the ball carrier throws the ball to the kickers foot off the ground. 2. The kicker aims to kick the ball back to the other player. 3 and 4. Swap feet after every go.
Direction of ball
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