EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Sparta 300: Ball retrieve and catch, pop, roll, pop

Handling enhanced training with balls arriving in the player’s hands from different directions, angles and speeds. Ball retrieve tests footwork and coordination; catch, pop, roll, pop works the arms and core. Aim to get up to 30 touches in a minute of each activity.

 

BALL RETRIEVE

  1. Stand one player shoulder-to-shoulder with a ball carrier.
  2. Get the ball carrier to throw or roll out the ball.
  3. The other player retrieves the ball and passes it back.
  4. They then get into position, running around to the other side of the starting ball carrier. Repeat only once the retriever is ready.

CATCH, ROLL, POP, ROLL

  1. A player lies on the ground with a ball carrier leaning over their head – they drop the ball to the prone player.
  2. The prone player catches the ball.
  3. They roll over.
  4. They pop the ball back.
  5. They roll back into position to repeat.

FOR EACH ACTIVITY

  • Work in pairs. One player acts as feeder and the other as receiver. After 30 seconds, swap roles and repeat for 30 seconds.
  • Continue for 2 minutes. Rest for 1 minute between activities.
  • Set a target for how many you can achieve in 30 seconds.

FROM KEITH HOLIFIELD, FORMER OSPREYS SKILLS AND CONDITIONING COACH

I want my players to touch the ball as many times as possible in preseason training.

The Sparta 10-activity programme works towards them handling the ball at least 300 times in 30 minutes. It is an intense session, with lots of exercises you can repeat over the season to keep players switched on to the many different types of handling they are likely to use. It doesn’t matter in which order the drills are performed as they are all physically and mentally demanding if performed at the right intensity.

I recommend that you demonstrate the activity first, then the players have a low intensity go in their pairs. This can act as part of the warm up, which means that when the session starts there is less explaining to do and the session flows.

The key to the session is the intensity – anticipation, quick reaction, high speed. The feeder plays a big role in making sure that the receiving player works hard.

Once the drills have been learned, a greater emphasis can be put on reps and competition between pairs and players. With the right conditions, intensity and competitiveness results will come.

FOR MORE SPARTA DRILLS

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