Players work on their passing accuracy and then straight into a 2 v 1. The quick change should focus the players on working hard at executing their skills well. To improve passing, develop technique and then put it under pressure. This activity does both in a very short space of time. MORE
Magic hands and core to the try line
Use three main themes for the ball carrier so they can engage defenders, pass well and be able to support after they have made the pass.
Keep your ball carrier dangerous by following these three principles. Use them as reference points so they can review their own performance.
1. BODY SHAPE BEFORE THE PASS, RUN OR KICK
Players should have their “core to the try line” as they run with the ball. This engages the defenders because the ball carrier is running forwards. It also means the ball carrier can pass, run or kick at any given time.
2. PARALLEL HANDS
Players should aim to keep their hands above their tummy button. The key is to finish off the pass with high hands. When I was at the Ospreys, we called it: “Throw the magic”. The fingers are pointing at the target as if a spell has been thrown to the receiver. I have found players respond well to this type of imagery.
Work hard on the players being balanced with the ball in hand. They are on their toes before receiving the ball and when they pass, they use the correct weight transference between the inside leg to the outside leg. This is linked to the support principles.
ENGAGING THE DEFENDER
The ball carrier takes on the ball, with his core facing up the pitch. As he passes the ball, the core faces towards the corner flag as he releases the ball.
Crucially, he should not turn his body and move across the pitch until after he has passed the ball. As soon as the ball carrier moves across the pitch, the defence sees him as a reduced threat.
He cannot perform the run or kick functions so well either. We want the defender to think he will have to make the tackle at all times.
GET A SECOND TOUCH ON THE BALL
Handling the ball does not finish once the pass is made. Players need to work after the pass. There is a clear sequence for the ball carrier: catch, pass, follow. We tell the player to “get your second touch”.
In the words of the great Australian fly-half Mark Ella: “If I touch the ball once there’s a chance someone will score, if I touch it twice the chances are the person I pass it to will score, if I touch it a third time, then I will score”.
Therefore, in practices, players have to work once they have passed the ball. However, they cannot make that transition to follow the ball until they have made the pass itself. The ball carrier must engage the defender first.
Here are some activities to work on these skills: