COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — Four days of rigorous training in Colorado Springs concluded as expected Sunday, although the preparations for players has only just begun. Tactical training highlighted the two-a-day practices, however there were two classroom sessions each day for the player’s mental preparation as well.
With just two years before the Women’s Rugby World Cup, Steinberg has opted to utilize this time to have all players prepare for the future competitions with having the right mindset.
“At our summer camp we found that many player struggled to perform three times in a week so that is a big focus for the tour,” said Steinberg.
The Eagles will play three matches in six days.
“Repeating performances are critical for the team when we go to the World Cup,” continued Steinberg. “Fitness, nutrition and mental skills are all part of the recovery process and we are looking forward to applying the lessons learned from the summer.”
In the classroom sessions, the mindset and requirements necessary for playing on a national level took the main stage. The staff utilized meeting times to help the athletes realize the strains and pressures players will feel not only on the field, but also off the field.
“Preparing to play for your country is a tremendous mental challenge,” said John Coumbe-Lilley, the skills coach and sports psychologists for the Women’s Eagles. “We are using goal-setting, visualization and relaxation to help the players perform at their best.”
Topics in the sessions included the mental and emotional toughness that is required for simply the trials and camps preceding selections.
“Players that go on tour have to be able to deal with non-selection. They need to deal with their disappointment and then put the teams performance first,” mentioned Steinberg, who also made note that the process was “exceedingly difficult for the coaches as well”.
Further, the head coach explained that “players experience an almost roller coaster-like effect typically when preparing on the international level” and the purpose of the workshops were to limit the consequences that happen during the “emotional extremes”. He concluded by adding that he wants all of his players to simply enjoy the game.
“Rugby is meant to be a fun game and I tell them they should want to do everything with a smile on their face. It shouldn’t be a burden to go out and compete at this level when players are already sacrificing a great deal of their personal lives in order to do,” said Steinberg.
For the strategic side of the game however, the staff installed patterns of play the group would like to see in games on the European tour as well as moving forward towards the WRWC.
Defense coach Peter Bagetta and guest kicking coach Damien Hill led a great portion of the on-field sessions with their specialty areas being the most focused on in the coming games.
“Since there are so many different ways to perform both offensively and defensively as a team, we thought the strategies behind these portions of the game were the most important to execute as a team than the technical aspects,” said Steinberg.
The coaching staff is expected to announce the traveling squad in the coming weeks.
Also joining the staff in Colorado were Coumbe-Lilley, Luke Gross (assistant head coach), Farah Douglas (scrums), Danielle Miller (hookers), Scott Higgins (strength and conditioning), Johnathan Atkinson (performance analyst), and Roshna Wunderlich (manager).
The camp sessions were the final practices for the squad before it departs for the European tour.
Italy opens the tour, hosting the Eagles on Nov. 18 in Rome. Following the contest, the national team will move on to France for two more games.
Orleans will be the site for the Nov. 21 matchup.
A showcase in Stade de France (Paris) on Nov. 24 will conclude the tour as well as precede the men’s match between France and Samoa.
Live coverage of the games has yet to be announced.