Practicing Unstructured Play in Team Ball Sports: A Rugby Union Example

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The purpose of this paper is to share a successful high performance coach’s approach to practicing unstructured aspects of team play to enhance team performance. The approach was implemented by Jim Mckay (attack coach) during the Queensland Red’s Super Rugby 2010–2013 campaigns. For team sports such as Rugby union, coaches need to assist players in developing their decision-making and execution under unpredictable and chaotic match conditions by scheduling a high proportion of playing form activities related to unstructured possession sources (e.g., response to turnover possession). This paper is organized into three sections. The first section provides an overview of relevant literature on coach-led practice sessions and dynamics system theory. This is followed by the Queensland Reds case study that outlines the data they analysed, the process and implementation of new practices and coach Mckay’s reflections. The final section provides suggestions for team sport coaches wanting to practice the unstructured aspects of team play.

Jim Mckay was formerly head coach at Kobelco Steelers, Kobe, Japan. Donna O’Connor is with the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Jim Mckay at jimmckayoz@hotmail.com.
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