Practice is the key to ending Barnstaple losing streak, says Tom Skelding
Practice can make for a perfect end to Barnstaple's season, according to player-coach Tom Skelding.
The 31-year-old lock forward has seen enough teams going through troughs to know how to get out of them.
As Barnstaple seek an end to a five-game losing streak – likely to become six when they go to formidable National Three south west leaders London Irish Wild Geese on Saturday – Skelding's solution is simple.
"Practice, practice, practice," he said.
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"If you are not practising enough or you are not doing quality practice, you do make errors.
"The more you train, the better you are and the luckier you get."
Kevin Squire, Barnstaple's director of rugby, has been critical of unforced errors that have littered his team's performances since the turn of the year.
Skelding said errors come with the territory when you are in a slump but that experience has helped him learn to deal with it.
"When you are in the groove, you know how to win games," he said. "When you are in a losing streak, as we are, you do make errors.
"I have quite often played for teams who were struggling – Moseley and Plymouth Albion in the Championship, Cornish All Blacks in National One – and it does strengthen you mentally.
"You learn to roll with the punches and be a bit more philosophical about rugby and your own performance.
"You have got to look at your own performance before you start blaming other people."
The young average age of Barnstaple's squad means they have been cut some slack over results and performances.
But Skelding believes there is only so long Barum can hide behind their age.
"It is frustrating because although they are relatively young most have been around the block for a bit now," he said.
"The old thing about being a young side rings true but at some stage they are going to have to step up to the mark and say, 'We are not young rookies in this league and we have got to start showing that'."