Rugby: Ping Pong

Great site and excellent drills. Easy to understand and apply in training....
Tyrone, Rugby Coach


Make sure that your players are holding their tackle shields correctly!

  • Have your players work in groups of 10, adjust depending on your own training goals.
  • Have more than one activity area in order to keep your players moving, standing around watching is not training.
  • If you find that you don't have enough equipment, then have the other groups undertake a different activity.
  • Keep your activity briefing, brief.
  • Give 8 players a tackle shield each, they should form a circle, with around a meter of space (or less) between shields.
  • 2 players in the middle, one of the player with a ball.
  • The ball carrier has to run into contact with one of the outside player and turn to give the ball to the 2nd player in the middle who has to provide close support.
  • On being given the ball the new ball carrier has to run into contact with another player holding a shield, the previous ball carrier is now the support player.
  • The two players in the middle must operate at a high tempo for a preset period of time as defined by the coach.
  • Players can rip and roll, provide and take a pop, provide and take a pass, fall and present, fall and pop, and drive and present on their hip.
  • Contact should last no more than three seconds, keep the tempo high!
  • Change the players in the middle of the circle.


You don't need to focus on all of the following coaching points, just select the points that match up with your own session and training goals.

  • Ball carrier carries the ball in two hands.
  • The players on the shields must hold the shields safely for their own protection.
  • Players in the middle must work at speed, hitting the contact with force.
  • During, and in preperation for, contact the ball is protected, and presented/positioned as far as possible from the contact area.
  • Any passes are correctly weighted in terms of speed, distance, and position.
  • At the current operating distances there is no need for spin passing.
  • Players making contact should hit low, driving through the contact using their legs and body weight.
  • There should be good communication between the ball carrier and the support player e.g. drive drive, down down, pop pop, my ball my ball, with me!
  • Players on the shields should offer encouragment to both keep their team-mates working, but also to keep the tempo high.
  • Shield holders should provide increasing levels of resistance and force, knocking the ball carrier and supporting players about - within reason.


You can progress this exercise by allowing shield holders to take the contact, then drop their shield and compete for the ball.

Pressure Ball | Warm Up

Pressure Ball:

Make sure your warm-up area is marked out before the players arrive.

  • Depending on the number of players you have at training, mark out several warm-up grids.
  • The size of your grid is a suggestion, but around 10 meters x 10 meters. The bigger the grid, the easier it is for the attackers - they have more space. The smaller the grid, the easier it is for the defenders. Break your players into two groups, pads and passers.
  • One third of your players will be passers; the rest will be on the pads.
  • Have one team quickly demonstrate the game to the other players. In each grid have four players on pads, and two passers. You could have more passers; I'll leave this to your judgment.
  • The job of the players on the pads is to put pressure on the ball carrier, to surround them and stop them from passing the ball. The players on the pads are also trying to force the passers to make mistakes e.g. drop the ball, throw a bad pass etc.
  • The passers have to move the ball around the grid, avoiding the pads.
  • Passers can pass the ball in any direction.
  • Players on the pads should have a little fun, and within reason push the passers around a little.
  • You can award points for each successful pass, and points to the defending team on the pads for every occasion when a ball carrier is surrounded or the ball carriers make a mistake.
  • Don't forget to change the players around, and to give players on the pads a go at passing the ball under pressure.
  • Law Variations: You could insist that passers have only 3 second to make their pass, or risk losing a point to the defending team.

Warm Up



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