Get your players working hard on their footwork and in unison so they can come forward fast from the defensive line to cut down attacking plays from rucks. If defenders can adjust their feet quickly while still focusing on the attack, they can sprint off the line together, rather than become disorganised. MORE
Feet for good ‘D’
Good defensive systems need organisation and communication, and quick line speed. You can only close down effectively with these three elements. For the player it all starts from a good foot position. This session gives the player the right set up to make better decisions when he is defending.
Warm up time: 7-10
Session time: 10-15
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 7-10
What to think about
- Are the players getting their feet into the correct starting position?Ask the players to shout right or left foot when they get into position. This shout will ensure all the players have the correct foot forward. This turns their body and head to look at their opponents, rather than in at the source of the ball.
- Are the players coming forward as a group or as individuals?Introduce a set procedure that initiates the move forward for the entire group. It could be the player closest to the source of the ball calls “ready, ready, ready and up”. Or it could just be the call “hands on”.
- While moving into positions always look at the opposition (see the top picture).
- Set your feet position so your foot nearest to the breakdown or set piece is forward.
- Look forward at the attack but also keep an eye on the clearing passer. Once he puts his hands on the ball, this is your cue to go forward to defend.
- Go forward collectively.
What you get your players to do
Split your players into groups of four defenders. On your signal the players move into a defensive line from their starting positions.
Markers are laid out to initially help them fix their positions in the line. They should sprint while still looking at where the opponents would be and they should set up with the foot nearest to the breakdown leading. From here they must react to when you put your hands on the ball, moving quickly forward as a group to defend.
- Add an attacking group so that the defence has to align themselves to attackers rather than just between cones.
- At the starting point have the players start by lying down, or mixed up passing a ball in a small area, before you give the signal.
Split into teams of 6 v 6. Both the attacking group and the defending group start at one side of the pitch. On your signal they run into a position where the defence is 10 metres away from the attackers.
The attacking team can make the initial clearing pass whenever they want. It’s up to the defence to work harder and quicker to get into position to defend. The game is full contact.
What to call out
- “Sprint into your set position”
- “Ensure you are onside”
- “Inside leg forward and look at your opponent”
- “Move quickly for the first few metres and adjust to what’s happening in front of you”