Catching and timing

Winning a ball in the lineout isn’t simply a matter of a jump off the ground and a catch.

There are three elements to consider:

  1. The ball is thrown down the middle of the lineout, so the jumper has to lean across to get the ball.
  2. The opposition will be competing at the same time, so the jumper has to beat his opposite man into the air.
  3. The jumper has to meet the throw at the top of his jump and this might include leaning back when the ball is lobbed over the opposition.

Before we even go into jumping, our players need to learn how to catch the ball. It’s made more difficult because the catch is above the head. That means the jumper’s hands are out of his own eyesight for some of the time.

It’s easy to catch something when you can see both the object and the hands.


Next, the player must get used to leaning over or even back to get the ball. That puts them off-balance and requires some flexibility around the core. Once the ball is caught, it has to be delivered to the scrum half. This also requires twisting and turning, often in the air.

We can work these aspects in a closed environment, with the catcher sitting on or kneeling on a tackle tube.

Try out this activity:

Sometimes, I’ll get the jumper to sit on the stairs of the stadium and get the hooker to throw to him to work on the catch.


As to timing, the key is clarity. The hooker and jumper must know where and when the ball will come into the line. Normally, I have a player deliver the message to the hooker, who sets up and waits for the other players to move into the lineout.

When they walk in, they should always come into the lineout at a slight angle, moving forward into their position.

If the ball is coming into the front of the lineout, the hooker throws based on the jumper’s movement. If it’s in the middle or the back, then it’s the hooker who throws and the jumpers react.

Work on the timing and jumper movement with my exercise below.

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