Eddie Jones is introducing the art of mime to training sessions in England in an effort to improve his team’s non-verbal communication and adapt to player welfare initiatives that limit contact training.
Rather than watching Charlie Chaplin classics, Jones borrowed the idea of mime training – which forbids players and coaches from talking – from the NBA, after consulting with basketball and NFL coaches. The coach sees practice as a means of keeping sessions fresh and lightening the load on his squad.
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Jones revealed that he briefly experienced mime training at England’s former camp and will be using the contactless method again as he takes his team to Jersey next week for a five-day match before the fall internationals against Argentina, Japan. New Zealand and South Africa.
“We looked into a little bit of stuff in America,” said Jones, who listed Mike Dunlap of the Milwaukee Bucks and Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers as coaches he spoke to. “I was talking to the NFL and the NBA and the amount of training time is continually being reduced, particularly in the NBA. One of the things they do is mimic training where they are not allowed to speak, so we’ll try to do that to see if we can speed up players’ learning.
“You can’t talk, show them what they have to do. We experimented a little bit at the last camp, they have to do it without speaking. It’s eye contact, being able to understand each other’s body language. It was pretty good, we have to try it a little more. Nothing is instant.
“Every sport at the moment is modified in the physical load you can do, maybe even cricket, as fast bowlers don’t throw as much do they? Baseball pitchers don’t throw as much. There is greater welfare assistance in every sport and therefore training, the amount of physical training you can do is reduced. So you have to find out other ways to teach the game. “
In light of a recent documentary about World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who was diagnosed with premature dementia, and comments from his former captain Dylan Hartley about the need to do more to help retired players, Jones acknowledged the need to review sports safety measures, such as restrictions on contact training.
“World Rugby has been very diligent, they have made the game safer and we must continue to make it safer,” he added. “I don’t think there is a sport in the world that doesn’t want to be safe. Rugby, due to the nature of the sport, is a physical collision game. We have to keep looking at how to make it safer, how to continue to take care of the players better. “
Jones also addressed the upcoming fall internationals and spoke of the need to strike a balance between achieving results against four nations that England could conceivably face at next year’s World Cup – Japan and Argentina are in the same pool as the team. by Jones – and keep things up your sleeve.
“The most important thing for me is to tactically make sure we keep moving but we don’t show our hand,” he said. “Now it’s like a contradiction, you want to keep pushing the team forward but you don’t want to show the opponents what you are doing.
“There’s a little cloak and dagger now, 12 months later, in terms of how much you want to show. And that means winning a few games and being good at games to make players think that you are on the right track.
“If you have too much cloak and dagger and don’t get good results, the players think: what’s going on here?” And it’s hard to get them to believe. But if you show them too much, you give too much to the opposition. So it’s this balancing act right now. So it’s the most fun time for coaching. “