December 18, 2019

How to Motivate your Players to Engage More

Written by:
Mark Cairns

This time last year we pulled off some information from the Currie platform and it was very coach heavy in terms of the work we’ve been doing. I was creating a lot of content and my brother Ben as well. The players would then respond to the posts. But we, the coaches, were the content creators.

I knew it was really important to get the players creating content and contributing more because if they can own that process and come with the ideas themselves then I can get insight into what they know. They can then start to teach others which is the best way to submit their knowledge and therefore change behaviours on the pitch.  Here's comparisons between 2018 and 2019 in terms of messages created, replied posted and the number of tags created.  

When I was at University I was interested in behavioural science and I was looking into a guy called BJ Fogg who was a professor at Stanford. He’s been involved in research that’s helped to create the Persuasive Technology Lab. It’s about how you can create technology to persuade people to engage. One of the things they came up with was how behaviour equals motivations, ability and trigger.

Motivation is something which can change every day. It can be high one day and then low the next. It changes depending on the person as well. It can be hard to control that as coaches and keep our players highly motivated all the time. The ability being how hard it is to complete that task, do you have the right equipment, is it going to take a long time.

So if we looked at an analysis session after a match, it can be reasonably difficult to do. It may need to be done on a laptop. Motivation wise, this fluctuates. So, this theory recommends using the tiny habits method to trigger action.

I have added this to the Currie Chieftains world and instead of asking the player to clip and watch the whole game again I said "just watch five minutes". The five minutes selected was based on their shirt number.

So with a squad number of one to twenty you’ve got 100 minutes of a game covered. In terms of accessibility you can complete on the phone and all they were really being asked to look at was the objective information in a game at the objective information. So they pick out all the scrums, the line-outs, the kick-offs and kicks and the attack. Relating to the Fogg theory, it's both easy and requires little motivation.

The area specialists will then come in and lead on certain areas once this has been done. These guys create discussions, posts and conversations on it. So by breaking up that into that kind of tiny habit, we’ve built in something which is much more easy to do and get their head around.

The engagements have been off the chart and is something I really want to push all the time for teams that use Coach Logic. Going back to the original point, I really want to know what the players know and what they understand.

This week, a great example of this, was Hamish Ferguson. Hamish is one of the younger players – he’s come up from the Nottingham Academy and he’s now asking me questions on things like what he could do better so he’s coming to me asking why he’s getting penalised twice last week or what he can improve on.

It’s a great environment for a player when they are comfortable asking me questions. Rather than me leading on the video and the players having the impression that it’s my content, the players feel more inclined to create posts on content that I haven't touched and therefore lead on this.

I have high expectations in that I want everyone to complete five minutes. I expect them all to have done it by Sunday evening so by Monday at the latest we can have conversations happening around that content.

Once the content has been categorised the leadership groups will focus on their area.

From the responses I get, I can sort out a training plan with the rest of the coaches based on the information from the players. We can repeat the cycle for our position analysis or Thursday night and see what the impact.

A good example of this would be like last week. I watched ten minutes of actual match footage. I watch a lot of clips that they’ve created. I just didn’t have time to watch back the whole match again. Sunday for me has to be a time where I spent it with family.

If the players have completed it all by Monday then I can just go around and look at the clips and get involved in the discussion.

I also have to reinforce a lot so sometimes players call each other out and it’s actually up to me to balance it and say "it’s cool because this was really good" or “look at this because it’s not a trend or something, it’s just a mistake” so trying to teach them how to communicate more effectively.

Off the pitch the there has been an improvement in communication. They’re becoming more effective and accurate and this has had an impact on the pitch as well.

Because there’s a lot of downtime in rugby you’ll see the guys coming together and talking. At half-time we can leave them alone for the first three minutes just to kind of get a breather and then discuss. Their opinions become more and more accurate and understanding on an objective view rather than getting too involved on an emotional level.

What I’ve learned is the players are keen to do this and I think most coaches will be impressed with how enthusiastic they are. You’ve got to re-enforce you won’t jump on their answers. There’s no right or wrong. As long as you manage that as a coach and give them little tasks they’ll jump at it. The players are involved in the development and success of the club and that they have some kind of control over their development so it’s win-win. It’s time-efficient, it gets them involved, it makes them better players.


  • Coach spends less time on a Sunday going through
 the match video
  • Players get training sessions that fit their
 needs and they learn quicker
  • Coach understands what the players know and the
 coach-player relationship flourishes
  • Develops players with coaching mindsets,
 creating coaches of the future.

read more

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