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 legsCheck 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.