Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Three ways for faster hands *Handling*

By Paul Tyler, a Level 3 coach, teacher and contributing editor of Rugby Coach Weekly

"Fast hands" is the ability to move the ball from player to player quickly and so create continuity and attacking opportunities. Here are three exercises to improve your players' fast hands.

Cross pass

One player stands in the middle of four others, each of whom has a ball. The middle player receives a pass from one of the four outside players and immediately gives a pass back to the same player. He then turns to receive a pass from the next player.
He works for 30 seconds and counts how many passes he manages to take and give in that time. Challenge the other players to beat his score.
Emphasise that the ball must be caught as early as possible with "soft hands" to cushion the impact. The return pass should be given in the same movement without bringing the ball near the body.

Pressure gates

Instruct a player run to through three pairs of players, each with a ball, standing about 3m apart. One of the pair passes the ball to the runner who passes it on to the other player in the pair. Make sure the first pass is a good pass and the receivers are showing good targets.

Head to head

Set out five cones either side of a line to denote the starting positions for the two teams.
On your whistle, the scrum half passes the ball to the first player, to pass it on to every player until the last player scores. No player can cross the line or his team are disqualified, this ensures players hold their depth.
Set up a similar set of cones to get players passing off the left hand as well and alternate between the two teams. The first team to score gets a point. The first team to three points wins.

This article is from Rugby Coach Weekly.

Miss 12 (M1) double loop *back move*

* Backs move *

Miss 12 (M1) double loop

By Dan Cottrell

Best from

  • The opposition half, but not too close to the try line because valuable ground could be lost if the move goes slightly wrong.

Why it works

  • The first "miss pass" pulls out the defenders.
  • The "loop" by 12 further pulls another defender to mark him as the extra man.
  • 10 creates an extra player, with 13 passing into the space between him and the looping 12.
  • In effect, this move creates two extra players for the defence to cover.

Good if you have

  • A quick 10.
  • Already taken the ball up with 13, especially from a "miss pass".
  • Already used a "loop pass" from 13 to 12.
  • Identified a weak defender in the 13 channel.

What players should do

  • 10 passes to 13 and then follows 12 behind 13 to take a "pop pass" on the outside of 13's shoulder.
  • 12 runs forwards briefly before "looping" behind 13, but running a wider "arc" to allow space for 10 to come in between 13's "outside shoulder" and 12's "inside shoulder".
  • 13 runs forward to receive the pass from 10, then delays a "loop pass" until 10 has run behind and around his "outside shoulder".

Common mistakes

  • 13 runs away with the pass making it difficult for 10 to make it around in time.
  • 13 runs too quickly towards the defence, again making the pass more difficult.
  • 13 passes without knowing 10 has made it around. There needs to be good communication to indicate 10's imminent arrival.

Think about

  • 13 running towards the opposition 12 initially, before straightening up.
  • 13 performing a "dummy wide pass" before passing to 10.
  • 13 going themselves if their defender moves on to 10, so needs to have some momentum when reaching the "tackle line".

Create flexible players

By Dan Cottrell
There are five core generic skills that all rugby players need to practise regularly.

1) Passing

Whatever position a player ends up playing, passing will be a core part of their role. There is no excuse for any player not being able to deliver a variety of passes effectively or selecting the best pass to use in different situations.

Players should all be competent at delivering clearing passes, spin passes, orthodox passes and pop passes, and in both directions.

In training, you must put players under pressure to deliver passes and condition games so players have to select different passes to suit different situations.

2) Running

Focus on the key running skills common to all players - acceleration, changing pace, changing direction and running efficiently sideways and backwards.

Incorporate multidirectional running into all your warm-ups and work on all the running skills every week. Impress on players the need to be balanced when they are running especially just before contact situations.

3) Support

All your players need to understand their supporting roles in the game. Always insist they come from a deep position behind the ball carrier and accelerate onto the pass.

They must communicate accurately with the ball carrier to tell him exactly where they are and when they want the pass.

4) Tackling

Players need to be able to efficiently execute a variety of tackles in different situations. Your team's target should be that all players are competent tackling in one-on-one situations.

Work on individual technique and include tackling exercises and games in every training session. Expose your players to different situations where they have to make different tackles.

5) Decision

Some players are natural decision makers but it is important that all your players learn how to make good decisions under pressure the majority of the time. Like most complex skills, decision making can only be developed by making real time decisions repeatedly.

This article is from Rugby Coach Weekly.

Feet and leg positioning *front row

By Dan Cottrell

Why do we want the feet and legs of a front row player in the best position for a scrum?
A good foot position means the shove from the legs is working in the right direction. A bad foot position can mean all the effort produced from a good body position is lost.

Good feet and legs

On engagement, the hips of both players are above the knees (pictured above). The thighs are perpendicular, the feet are pointing forward, and the players are on the balls of their feet.
Some coaching text books say that there is some evidence that an angle of 120 degrees for the leg bend is best for applying the most force at impact.
After the initial shove, the hips have moved forward, but there is still some flex in the legs (pictured above). Remember to keep stepping, so the knees come under the hips after the initial engagement.
Julian Davies, former London Welsh and Esher prop: "A lot of people think it's about size and position but it's all about the strength of your abdominal muscles - neck to waist. The further you can put your legs back, the stronger the push."
Nigel Horton, British Lions scrummaging coach: "The key to scrummaging is balance. It comes first from the feet and then the legs. You can be as strong as an ox, but if you are off balance, then the shove is dissipated."

Bad feet and legs

Check your players for signs of "bad" feet and legs.
A bad driving position (pictured above). The legs are virtually straight. The hips are higher than the shoulders. The feet are neutral - there is no flex for a shove. Also note that the binding of the right hand player shows him pulling the other down.
Still no flex in the legs and the feet are flat (pictured above).

Secrets of feet and body positions

"In general it is recognised that having the feet offset allows greater variation when it comes to creating options as it is difficult to react going backwards with your feet together. Coaching generally centres around being offset to absorb the impact and then taking small steps (in unison) to try and promote your scrum."
Martin Toomey, fitness adviser to the All Blacks 1997-1999, quoted on www.coachesinfo.com
"Spine in line saves 999."
Jim Love, NZ Sports Academy manager and former assistant coach of NZ Maori.

This article is from my Secrets of the Front Row manual.

Monday, July 2, 2012


                          Rugby flanker

Rugby flanker - open-side or blind-side are part of the scrum but cannot wait to get away from it. There are reasons, maybe this is for you.

Position in the team

Flankers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and it`s good to have a difference between the two on the pitch.
  • having handling ability is excellent
  • speed is pretty useful
  • good tackling is very important
other important assets are
  • strength, particularly upper body
  • toughness
  • competitiveness
  • bulk/weight
  • endurance
  • agility and mobility

Rugby flanker - in the scrum

The scrum restarts play after rules are breached in a minor way.
Flankers attach to the sides of the scrum.
They provide weight for pushing and stability but their main responsibilities are elsewhere.
When a scrum forms it is rarely central in terms of distance from the touch-lines.
  • the narrow side is called the blind-side
  • the wide side is called the open side
Rugby flankers tend to specialise, with one blind-side flanker and one open-side flanker.
When the scrum forms they attach to the scrum on the appropriate side, blind or open.
When the opposition win the ball in the scrum contest the rugby flanker DEFENDS.
The flankers must remain attached to the scrum until the ball comes out.
The blind-side flanker then breaks from the scrum and must stop any players with the ball from breaking through down the blind side.
The players would usually be the opposition scrum-half or number-eight who have gathered the ball at the base of the scrum and run blind rather than pass to the backs.
The open-side flanker breaks from the scrum and must stop any players with the ball from breaking through close to the scrum on the open-side.
Again this would usually be the scrum-half or number-eight
When the ball goes to the opposition backs the openside flanker follows, using all speed.
Mission - get in there, stop the attack and get the ball back!
The open-side flanker usually arrives at the tackle or break-down before the blind-side flanker because the route is shorter.
As for all player positions when you have tackled, release the tackled player and get up off the ground as quickly as possible.
Aim to get both feet on the ground and crouch unsupported over the tackled player so as to legally scavenge for the ball.
When the ball is won in the scrum the flankers SUPPORT.
It may mean close support for the number eight or scrum-half running the ball from the base of the scrum...
or covering across as the ball moves along the back-line, ready to receive an inside pass and/or waiting to pounce and retrieve the ball after any break-down in play.

Rugby flanker - in the line-out

The line-out restarts play after the ball has "gone into touch".
Flankers at the back of the line-out are used as alternative jumpers if tall enough.
This ploy is used only occasionally as getting the ball safely and accurately to the back of the line is more difficult and risky.
Flankers duties at the line-out are similar to scrum time.
Stop breaks with the ball around the end of the line and make things as difficult as possible for the opposition backs to function well together.
In attack, more of the same. At any break-down be first there and get the ball.

Rugby flanker - in general play

The two flankers and the number-eight play in a co-ordinated way to provide a mobile defensive area when the team is defending or when the team is attacking, provide critical early support for ball carriers in trouble.
They use their superior skills of tackling, ball handling and agility to assist in attack and their bulk, strength and endurance to bolster defence.
Want to escape their clutches get a sidestep!       

Friday, June 10, 2011

Front on tackle training session

This session is to coach players to make head on tackles on players running straight at them. The key requirement for this type of tackle is to prevent the opponent breaking through the defensive line.

What you tell your players to do

  • Get your head to one side of the ball carrier.
  • Make contact with your shoulders on the bottom of their shorts.
  • Let the ball carrier's momentum take you to the ground.
  • Hold on as you fall and land with a tight grip. Don't let the ball carrier get back to their feet with the ball.

What you get your players to do


Start with players on their haunches and with their arms out. Have them fall backwards and to one side. They must turn, land on their front and jump up again.
This will simulate the "falling" when making a front on tackle.
Make sure they warm-up falling both ways.

Main practice

In a 2 metre channel, set up a tackler on their haunches. A ball carrier jogs forward and falls over a designated shoulder of the tackler.
Develop this by increasing the speed of the runner and making sure they attack both shoulders. Eventually have the tackler standing up to tackle proactively.

Developing the session

The training session can be developed as follows.
  • Change the aggressiveness of the runner, depending on the ages and skills levels of your players.
  • Have two tacklers in a line, with one tackler going lower than the other.

A game situation

The session can be developed further by playing the "break the line" game.
  • Mark out a 10 metre square box. Three defenders have to defend a line against two attackers with a ball. The keys are communication and good use of the front on tackle.
  • Make sure the tackling team completes the tackle by getting to their feet to contest for the ball. The game finishes once the ball is retrieved by the defenders, or the attackers have scored.

Coach's notes

What to call out

  • "Head up, chin off your chest"
  • "Keep your eyes open throughout the tackle"
  • "Twist the ball carrier as you fall"
  • "Hold on tight throughout the tackle"

What to look for

Poor head position: A key factor not only for safety but also for an effective tackle. The head should be flush against the pocket of the shorts.
Bouncing off the tackle: Tacklers need to bend at the knees and open the arms wide, and then lock onto the target.
What to think about
  • Can the front on tackle be used more aggressively with the ball carrier driven back?
  • It is recommended that at junior levels, tackles are kept at thigh height. At more experienced levels, the tackler can target the ball.
  • Some players can be taught to step into the tackle, with the front foot and impact shoulder on the same side of the body.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Side stepping for devastating breaks

The ability to change direction sharply gives attackers a chance to make devastating breaks. Use this drill so players can side step into space and they will be able to drag defenders out of position and open up the defensive line.
This "flat foot" drill will coach the rugby side-step skills your players need. While you're coaching it, look for any rugby players who slow down when they come to the bit where they have to side-step the defender.

The skill ought to be performed at speed. Any sign of slowing down and the defender will be on to the ball carrier, ready to turn over the ball.

Set up flat foot rugby drill

  • In a 10m box, place a defender at one corner and an attacker at the corner diagonally opposite.
  • The attacking player can score anywhere on the opposite line.
  • Condition the rugby drill so that the defender lets himself be beaten on his inside by the attacker's side-step.
  • Quickly move on to live tackling.

What to look for in this rugby drill

  • Players who don't change direction sharply.

  • Some players may take two or more steps to change direction. Ask them to alternate by jumping from one foot to the other.

  • Once they have mastered this, get them to run forward and jump off either foot to the left or right. They should then be changing direction sharply in a basic side-step.

  • Players who lose speed performing the side-step. Get them to side-step the opponent earlier and accelerate past them on the inside. Using smaller steps and shouting "accelerate" after each side-step can help your players further.
Develop the side stepping drill
  • Change the try line so the players have to side-step off the other foot.

  • Add a second covering defender for the attacker to beat once the first defender has been flat footed.