Denis Betts, former head coach of Rugby League side Widnes, spent four years as a rugby union skills coach at Gloucester. Here he shares his thoughts. MORE
Most players in the team will have to catch a high ball at some stage, whether from a kick and chase, kick off or drop out restart. And if they are not involved in catching, they alternatively will have to support the catcher.
Though primarily aimed at the back three, this session has benefits for all players.
Warm up time: 7-10
Session time: 5-10
Development time: 5-10
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 7-10
What to think about
- What can I do to stop players knocking on when catching the ball?
The key is for players to get side-on when they catch the ball. This means if the ball is dropped it will go backwards rather than be knocked on.
- My players are always watching the oncoming defender rather than the ball.
This is very common, especially with younger players. Start getting their technique good without any pressure from opponents. Remind them that if they are in the air the opposition cannot tackle them. Once they are comfortable add opponents gradually, and slowly increase the pressure they exert.
- Call clearly for the ball.
- Time your jump so you can catch the ball while in the air.
- Support the catcher and give him options for your attack.
What you get your players to do
Split into groups of three, with the players moving around the area throwing the ball up for each other to jump up and catch.
The catcher must keep his eyes on the ball, call for the catch and time their jump so they catch the ball in the air. The catcher should land in a strong position ready to take contact if necessary.
- Player one throws or kicks the ball towards player two, who runs forwards and times his jump to catch the ball in the air. Player three runs up and either competes in the air or makes the tackle on the ground. The kicker has to come in to support the catcher.
- Add more players to each group so there are more supporters and chasers.
Two teams of three compete against each other, playing across the 22 metre area. One team kicks the ball high for the other team to receive, and follows up the kick as a defensive team.
The catching team have to secure the ball and support the catcher. They then attack and try to beat the oncoming defence.
Develop this by allowing them to kick back if an attack is not on.
What to call out
- “Eyes on the ball until it is in your hands.”
- “Arms up at head height. Fingers pointing up.”
- “Get side-on to the direction of play.”