Graeme College 1st XV 2011/2012 a RT Story

In 2011 the coach of the Graeme College 1st XV rugby team emailed me to ask about developing the mental skills of his team. He shared that he had a talented and hard working team, however they were just not achieving the results he knew that they were capable of. After a few emails and conversations about various things we decided to focus on one key mental technique for the team, the Movie Technique from the Raising Talent book, as for me it is the simplest most powerful way to develop mental focus and toughness. The technique is based on high quality visualization that is supercharged with meaning. I have asked the coach for his feeedback of using the technique, as well as asked the boys in his team to share their experiences. Thank you to all for taking the time to share their thoughts.

I love that such a simple technique implemented and supported well can make such a positive contribution. Exciting and inspiring stuff, well done to Coach Pierre and his Graeme boys!


Feedback from the Coach: Pierre Jacobs





Traditionally the Graeme College 1st rugby teams have struggled against their Kingswood College counterparts. This yearly fixture sees 16 matches played from u9 through to 1st team with Graeme College generally averaging over 75% win on the day. However, the 1st team’s last victory over Kingswood College was in 2006. Over the past 17 seasons Graeme College have only beaten Kingswood College only 3 times (1997, 2006 and 2012) and drawn once (2009).

The Movie Technique introduced to the Graeme College 1st team during the 2011 season has proved to be extremely powerful and valuable. The players are encouraged on a weekly basis to start their mental preparations for the weekends match as early as the Monday by creating their own “movie” about the upcoming encounter.

The week leading up to the Kingswood College match was no different. Even though it was a home fixture for Graeme College, Kingswood College would be wearing the tag of favorites due to their successful season. Many had written the young, inexperienced Graeme College team off.

As coaches we encouraged the boys to picture certain aspects of the match. On the Thursday I asked the players at the end of practice to picture the following scene

“Kingswood College is on the attack and the Graeme College boys are defending courageously by putting their bodies on the line and making bone crunching tackles, stopping the opposition dead in their tracks. Wave after wave of Kingswood College attack the Graeme College boys stand strong and unite under the pressure. A tackle is made and the ball goes dead, the referee looks at his watch and blows the final whistle. The Graeme College players look up at the scoreboard and see the score in their favor and before they can look back down to find their teammates they are swamped by cheering spectators (Graeme College schoolboys, Old Graemians, parents and friends of the school) who run off the stands onto the field in celebration and to congratulate their heroes”

This “movie” was told to them on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday leading up to the match. As I type this I get choked up as that is exactly how the final minutes of play unfolded. In the team huddle afterwards (once all the excitement and euphoria had begun to subside) our 16 year old hooker looked at me and said “Sir, your movie came true, it played out exactly how you had told us it would”


The feedback questions were as follows:

  1. Did you find the movie technique introduced to assist in your mental preparations before matches beneficial? If so please explain how it helped you?
  2. Before using the movie technique in which other way/s did you mentally prepare for the match? Please explain using examples
  3. What difference did creating movies and finding your personal meaning make to your
    a) rugby
    b) life in general
  4. Would you recommend using the movie technique to other rugby players?if so, please write a short testimonial about the value it added for you?


1) Yes, The movie technique was very beneficial. Preparing like this by playing the match in your mind like a movie really does help you because you play out all the different match situations. So when it comes down to a situation like scrum time for instance you have prepared mentally and thought of how it will go and how you want it to go. This technique of mental preparation helps you see things the way you want them to go. I feel as if it gives you the extra bit of mental preparation you need for a match.

2) I thought about the game and about the moves and the opposition and who to watch.

3) a) It made a huge difference to my rugby. I found myself being a lot more focused and the movie technique really helps up my aggression levels. It also makes you focus on your job and your team more then the opposition. It improves my play as well because of how everything has been played already in my mind.

b) In life in general it has helped me think more about the choices I make and really think about what will happen if I make a certain choice.
4) Yes this technique should be used by all rugby players.
The technique helps players really get the mental edge before a game. The movie technique also makes you really think about the game and get you psyched up. It was one of the best ways of preparing for a match I have used aside from the training session on the field. I would recommend this technique to any player looking to take that extra step up in the rugby careers.


1)Yes I found it helpful, I like to visualize how hard I have trained before a match in order to boost my confidence knowing that I have trained harder than my opposite man. Watching the video helped me do this.

2) Just listening to music and picturing different scenarios in the game and how I would deal with them

3) It gave me a lot more focus before a match in terms of general life it has helped my work harder when I train. For example I have taken the speech from one of the videos and put it on my iPod and whenever I have a day when I don’t feel like training I play it. It has helped me to be much more driven

4) It’s hard to say whether it would work for everyone. People have their own ways of preparing before matches; it could work for some and not for others.


1) It made me more confident that the preparation I had done during the week was sufficient and I was focused and well prepared.

2) I had been taught at a young age to visualize my rugby matches whilst at training and before matches.

3) Feeling well prepared and focused makes you more confident and when you are confident you perform better both on and off the field.

4) Yes I do. Confidence is key and the Movie Technique helped create a confident and focused environment.


1) Yes, it helped me perform by making myself believe I am capable of achieving my goals.

2) Listening to music, thinking about victory, thinking about the people who inspire you (who you play for), thinking of people and situations that have hurt you and taking that hurt (anger and frustration) and using it to become aggressive. I used to use those when facing the bigger stronger teams.

3) It makes a difference by showing yourself what you are capable of and making that “movie” a reality on the field and even off the field. It helps you focus on your goals.

4) Yes, I would definitely recommend it. The players need to use this technique to on their own without the coach telling or reminding them to do it. It should be an internal thing and the coach should keep the movie talk to a minimum, it’s up to each player.


1) Yes, it helped me to be mentally focused and motivated.

2) I would listen to an inspirational song and watch rugby video clips.

3) The Movie Technique helps me to be positive and motivated because I picture myself being great and doing great things in my movie and I obviously want to achieve that greatness in real life as well as on the field.

4) Yes, I would definitely recommend the Movie Technique because it helped me to be focused and motivated. It also helped me to grow as a player because I know what I want and therefore I want to achieve it.


1) Yes, it helps get me in the right frame of mind before a game; it gets me focused and calm (not too much nervous energy). I don’t feel over psyched and just concentrate on what I want to do.

2) I listened to music and inspirational clips and messages.

3)a) It helped me realize that rugby is a way of life, express myself more and know my strengths and weaknesses, know what I am expected to do on the field.

b) It has taught me how to approach life and what qualities I require to do so.

4) I will definitely recommend it.

Watching my movies before and on game day has helped mentally prepare me for the game and get me focused and in the right frame of mind. It has helped calm me down and get rid of the nervous energy before games.


1) Yes it did assist with my mental preparations before a game. The movie technique helped me stay calm and focused and concentrate on what I had to do on the field.

2) I used to use something similar to the movie technique by visualizing parts of the match over and again.

3.a) The difference it made was by helping me focus and prepare mentally

b) It has made me think more (outside the box) which I feel is a good thing.

4)Yes, because it has helped me improve my game (and life). If it can help me it should be able to help anyone.


1) It definitely helped me because when you watch your movie it forces you to focus on the task at hand.

2) Listen to music or a specific song that motivated me.

3. a) It made me want to play like I had pictured in my movie

b) No comment

4) I would recommend the Movie Technique to other rugby players because the movies will help you to focus and concentrate on the game. It also brought an emotional edge to the game.


1) It helped me realize that I have a job to do and kept me focused and prevented me from getting over psyched.

2) I would hang my rugby jersey near my bed, look at the Leopard (badge) the night before a game and then think of what I had to do the next day on the field.

3 a) When you watch your movie and you do what you have been practicing during the match, after the match you can look back and see how well prepared you were and then you do the same the next week.

b) It motivates you in life and helps you to face the challenges that come your way. You always have a movie in the back of your mind.

4) Yes. Watching a movie helps you prepare for a game, it sets the right mood.


1) Yes, in the bigger matches it helped get me mentally prepared for the task which meant I would run onto the field ready to play rather than being “half ready” and as the game progressed getting to a state where I realize its now game time and I need to switch on.

2) I would usually day dream about what could happen in the match. What I wanted to do if a certain situation arose and what the chances were of those things happening, as well as what to expect from your opponents and team mates by listening to what they said and watching what they did before the match eg: if a team mate was too excited and said or did something that was arrogant I knew he wasn’t ready for the match and it then wouldn’t make me as angry and frustrated when they made simple mistakes because I was expecting it from them.

3) a) I began to have more intrinsic motivation and rewards. I therefore enjoyed it more and because of that I learnt more.

b) The lessons you learn from sport can be beneficial to your every day life. We used the phrase “NO REGRETS” in the team context of our movies and that transferred into my life.

4) Yes, the movie technique was like being in the eye of a storm. The hype of the build up to a match could be settled and you could calm yourself by watching your movie, gather your thoughts and realize how important the match was and that you needed to put in the effort on the field. Then it was a matter of going out and playing your heart out.


1) The movie technique worked really well for individuals and as a team. It helped add a visual motivation to our preparations. I feel it helped promote teamwork and a healthy team spirit because our movies were all very similar and we didn’t want to let each other down so it was more than just a passion for the game we played for each other.

2) Music and motivational clips and speeches.

3) a) Some people that play rugby sometimes don’t realize that it’s a team sport with team effort being the main thing. With every player making a movie along the same lines it would help create a stronger bond.

b) The Movie Technique helps you bounce back and refocus after you have been knocked down, it has strengthened my mind and motivated me to be the best I can be.

4) I would strongly advise other rugby players to use the Movie Technique because it can help you through the tough times both on and off the field and that the main aim is not necessarily winning but doing yourself and your team mates proud (that’s what a team sport is all about)


1) Yes, the Movie Technique was beneficial. It helped me create a mental picture of having or doing what is desired. It made me visualize the success I wanted to achieve which in turn motivated me to work harder and perform at my best. A phrase that played in my head match after match was a quote from Muhhamd Ali “I’m gonna show you how great I am”. This was part of my movie and every player a scrummed against, tackled or ran into was going to find out just how great I was.

2) I used to listen to music (songs like Eminems “Lose yourself”). I also used to try and visualize situations in the game.

3) a) It has made a huge impact on my game as I gradually started improving through watching my movies. It motivated me, I know how hard champions work and I wanted to be a champion.

b) Watching my movies I learnt that hard work pays off. Nothing in life is handed to you on a silver platter. It has given me determination to work harder than the average person.

4) Yes, I would recommend this to other rugby players. It is motivational and can teach you integrity and respect. I have since begun to live my life to the fullest and enjoy each moment without dwelling on the past. I have also set higher standards for myself but will also not try to be perfect. Other can learn this too.


1) Yes it was beneficial. It helped me realize that by giving it your all a person could achieve the” impossible”. My movie motivated me to push my rugby to the limits and never give up.

2) I would watch rugby matches on the television and try imagine myself on the field with those players.

3) a) It has helped me focus more on the tasks at hand and also helped me to stay relax because I have a clear “picture” in my mind of what I want to achieve.

b) I used a similar process to the one mentioned above.

4) I definitely would. Movies have a great value because it helps you picture yourself achieve things. If you are the underdogs it helps level the playing fields. It inspires you and it then comes down to who wants it more on the day.