EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Sparta 300: Blind pairs and single-hand pass back

Handling enhanced training with balls arriving in the player’s hands from different directions, angles and speeds. Blind pairs test the reactions of the catcher; single-hand pass develops the feel of the ball in each hand. Aim to get up to 30 touches in a minute of each activity.

BLIND PAIRS

  1. Stand a ball carrier behind the retriever.
  2. They throw or rolls the ball either left or right .
  3. The retriever has to run forward to either catch the ball or gather it before passing back and resetting.

SINGLE-HAND PASS BACK

  1. Get a player to stand 2m away from a ball carrier along a 5m line.
  2. Get the ball carrier to throw it left or right so the catcher can take and pass back the ball with one hand.
  3. Make sure the catcher jumps and lands on their outside foot before they catch and then return the ball.

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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