Rugby: Hands up / Hands Down

I am so pleased with all of the drills and advice on rugby. I am a...
Mokie, Rugby Coach


  • Lets just get the ball moving clockwise for a while, just to get the ball moving through the hands.
  • After a minute or two, lets switch the direction of the ball.
  • After another minute, tell them the ball can go in any direction, but......
  • The receiver must have their hands in the air.
  • The passer cannot pass to a player directly beside them.
  • The passer can dummy, if a player takes their hand down they are out.
  • The reciever can take their hands down to catch a ball if it is coming their way.
  • You can also play this game using a word like RUGBY. Each time a play makes a mistake they get a letter. The loser is the first player to get all the letters that spell RUGBY. Some teams and coaches have more interesting and colorful words to spell - I'll leave this to you.
  • You can make this game a little harder by reducing the size of the circle or by asking the players to touch their toes before catching the ball.
  • You can also increase the number of balls in the circle.
  • Have fun with this!


Don't feel that you have to focus on all of the following coaching points, you may have your own. Select the points that most closely match your overall training and session goals.

    • Players should work to keep the tempo of the session high, but not at the cost of bad passing.
    • It's important that players have fun with this, it's a game!
    • Receivers get their hands down and out to recieve the ball as quickly as possible.
    • Receivers reactions should be quick.
    • You are helping your player to read the game here. Is a pass about to happen, what cues tell to the possible direction of the pass, can you tell from reading body position etc? Scanning the player in front of you, and reacting to what you see - is all part of the game in terms of defence.
    • Ball carriers carry the ball in two hands.
    • Ball carriers dummy, while keeping control of the ball.
    • The pass is weighted in terms of distance, speed, and accuracy. However, the passer uses increased speed of ball to catch the receiver out - the lesson here is that a pass that is too fast is too hard to catch.
    • The pass must be good, in the sense that it is to a receiver.
    • Mistakes will be made, allow your players the freedom to make mistakes without feeling a failure - keep it fun.
    • Passing should be off both hands. There is no weak or strong hand, just hands that need a little more work. Work is the key, not talent. Maybe you have very gifted right handed passer - lets see how good they are with the left.
    • Receivers are quick to react.
    • Ball carriers should scan for weakness and attack that weakness, the same as they would in the game!
    • That said, it's important that one player is not always attacked - therefore try to keep your groups equal in terms of ability.
    • Players can use a variety of passes to catch receivers out.



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