Sometimes in sport it is useful to change things up in a different environment to achieve the outcomes you want.
It was with this in mind that I decided to take the rugby league club I coach, the Aris Eagles, to the Athenians Sports club in Vari for a day of fitness, skill drills, talk and reflection.
We have grown rapidly as a club this season with many new players joining our men’s side and in a an exciting recent development, adding a women’s team.
It was these factors along with a very important game looming for the men’s team that meant the timing was right for us to team up with Vasilis Katsakos and Lina Norman from the Athenians Sports club for a development day.
I knew the Athenians team from a previous short stint coaching at an Athens rugby union club and I was involved with their media launch.
I also knew they would provide solid all round sessions for our squad based on their experiences as rugby players and coaches. Our conversations confirmed we share similar philosophies when it comes to sport.
First up was a tough hour long fitness session involving lost of running, sprints, boxing and tackle bags. The session was deliberately tough. Not because it would suddenly transform the players, more to set the scene and allow self assessment of current fitness levels and what is required to reach an acceptable level.
After a recovery break complete with water and fruit, Lina who has previously competed in a rugby union World Cup, shared her experiences with the ladies squad while former Greek national rugby coach Vasilis spoke to the men’s team about focussing prior to games.
The men’s and women’s squads split up for skills sessions requiring communication, quick thinking and decision making.
I found it useful to watch other coaches approach a particular problem in a different way to achieve improvements in player habits. It’s as much a learning experience for coaches as it is the players.
After a varied skills workout and refuelling on pasta and salad the talkfest began.
We heard how and why the Athenians Sports club began followed by my summary of the key objectives of the day and how they linked to the club building blocks of fitness, skill development, communication, knowing your role and team culture.
T-shirt’s were given by Athenians to a male and female that made big efforts to learn and develop on the day.
It was a valuable day for the club that will set us up better to face the many challenges that come our way this season. Captain Aris Dardamanis and fellow coach Jim Minadakis remarked on how useful the sessions had been.
I would recommend the Athenians to any club looking to bring the squad together, find an edge, or just enjoy a break from their usual routine and coaching voices.
Thanks to all!