Skilful footwork can improve acceleration, agility and balance. But get a two-in-one benefit by using footwork ladders to also develop your players’ heads-up decision-making. It’s a simple session to improve agility in decision-making exercises – and very easy to set up and vary. MORE
If a player changes direction just before contact, he has a greater chance of breaking the tackle. Younger and less experienced players need to find out which methods of changing direction work best for them. “Footwork fireworks” develops the basics in realistic match-like situations.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 5-7
Development time: 8-10
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 5-7
What to think about
It is likely that the ball carrier will get bumped by the opposition. Therefore, avoiding contact should also be seen as avoiding a big contact. You can say to the players: “Use good footwork to reduce the impact of the collision”.
Good footwork keeps the ball carrier balanced so he does not fall when bumped. He also wants to be able to run on if he gets through.
Crucially, the ball carrier needs to keep going forward, because any loss of momentum will give the defender an advantage.
- Aim for the gaps to pull defenders out of position.
- Go forward with the ball at all times.
- Drive through the contact area.
What you get your players to do
Set up one ball carrier and two ruck pad holders as in the middle picture. Have the ball carrier start near one corner of the box. He has to use footwork skills to get across the end line defended by two ruck pad holders. The ruck pad holders only move forward once the ball carrier has moved.
This is a likely scenario in a game where defenders are not always directly in front of the ball carrier.
Develop, if the players are ready, by removing the pads to encourage tackling.
Put a defender in the middle of the box and a defender at a far corner. Put two attackers at the corner diagonally opposite.
Have the attackers aim to cross to the far side of the box. The ball carrier can only pass if he is tackled and not before. If he cannot pass, he must play the ball on the ground for his partner to pick up and continue.
Put six attackers across the box. Have two defenders on each side of the box about 5m back from the attackers. The attackers must combine and use footwork to break tackles and cross the end line. Start play with the attackers and play full contact rugby.
Stop if there is a ruck or infringement.
The defensive set up should encourage the ball carrier to use good footwork. Support players must read the footwork to take offloads.
What to call out
- “Attack gaps, and then step”
- “Don’t dip until you have to”
- “Don’t dance on the spot”
- “Cut angles hard”