Taking the ball into contact

Taking the ball into contact

Several of my players are taking the ball a yard too far into contact and losing possession as a result.Do you have any suggestions or drills that would help to address this? Dave Knights. Hong Kong

Rugby CoachCoach
Rugby CoachCoach

DAvid Hard question to answer without seeing it but what comes to my mind is that we must first determine the following and then choose drills accordingly. 1) are they aware of their support and where they are. 2) with the above known, they need to choose the best way to get them the ball...ruck, maul, or pass. Once 1) is recognized you can coach them the proper techniques of rucking and mauling. I much prefer rucking ofr younger players, but the maul is much needed if support is farher away and time is needed for them to catch up. If support is close and passing is not an option, then I think rucking is the way to go. Rucking is all about body position. Have th eball carry get low , straight back, so as to be in a position of power, but also to have his support know he is rucking. Hope this helps and wiser people than I can add or correct.

Rugby CoachCoach

Dave, if I could offer a different perspective on this. I would say there's no problem taking the ball too far into contact. It would seem the issue here is that the technique of the individual players taking the ball into contact is what needs to be addressed.

I would always suggest passing as the first option for the ball carrier, ruck and maul is last resort. Just my opinion.

The first thing I would do with these players is to breakdown the contact area and jog/run through contact with them, look at how they're holding the ball, where on the tackler are they targetting or are they running at the space either side of him, how are they holding the ball when taking contact, are they looking at a hand off etc..

Once you get a picture of where they need to improve, start them with some 1 v 1 practices where they're competing with each other. I normally find that starting with gripping the ball heals a lot of ills in this area, players tend to hold the ball under their armpit when they anticipate contact with the long axis of the ball at right angles to the players forearm, which generally leads to players spilling the ball as the arm is jogged in contact.

I would say key points here are:

  • players gripping with fingers not palms
  • hold ball under nipples, not arm pits
  • always keep the ball away from the impact area - think body position

I start players with a simple practice where they have to try to keep a defender from getting the ball in 30 secs, they grab hold of the defender around the chest/shoulder area and have to keep them at arms length. Then we move into thye ball carrier laying on the ball and a player laying on top of him. The player with the ball has to constantly move from one side to the other and make a good clean presentation....harder than you think!

We then move into options in the tackle area and scanning practices for the ball carrier. I get the 'problem' player to take the ball into contact and fight through a couple of metres before turning to scan. The scanning part comes in the form of me holding up a different coloured cone or holding a certain amount of fingers up, the player then has to call the colour or number. I then progress this to running 3 support players behind with different coloured bibs on. I hold up a coloured cone, the player then shouts the colour and offloads to the player with that coloured bib in the contact.

I promise you that 3-4wks of this practice will rectify it. It hasn't failed me yet.



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