Waikato Journal of Education


The development of player decision-making involving an empowering approach to coaching has been advocated for 'Small Blacks' through to All Blacks over the past decade (Kidman, 2001, 2005; Kidman & Hanrahan, 2004). This paper examines how rugby players, through facilitated structured self- reflection, perceive their ability to make decisions in game situations, after participating in a seven-week decision-based training intervention designed and facilitated by a coach of the Canterbury Rugby Football Union in New Zealand. The aim is for teachers and coaches to better understand how the players learn to make better decisions in game-based situations.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted pre, during and post the intervention with six 15-year-old rugby players from an independent private boys' high school in Christchurch, New Zealand. Content analysis of the descriptive data involved coding, categorising and then identifying common themes using NVivo (N6), a qualitative software program. The findings showed that all six players perceived improved perception and motor skills and tactical sport-specific knowledge, and that better intra-communication (within the team) was critical in their ability to make informed decisions.

The implications for sports teachers and coaches' education suggest that purposeful decision-based training, involving facilitated structured self-reflection, better equips players to improve decision-making on the rugby field. However, further research is needed to track and monitor individual players and their ability to make effective decisions in game situations. 


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