If you can spot gaps, you need to get the ball there quickly. That's the best space. What happens is the best space on the edges of the defence? That might need some quick but long passes. Work on your players' technique and put it under pressure with these exercises. MORE
Looking up means your attacking players focus on the defence, to identify weaknesses and exploit them. By using visual cues, your players then will be able to make quick decisions on where to run and where to pass. I use variations of this session all the time to improve my players’ decision making.
Warm up time: 7-10
Session time: 8-10
Development time: 15-20
Game time: 15-20
Warm down time: 7-10
What to think about
Some teams are very good passers in training but make too many bad passes in matches. This is a common problem. The best way of overcoming it is to train under more match-like conditions.
In particular, always have defenders in place when you do passing exercises. Instead of players just running down a channel passing, put pairs of defenders in front of them to put them under pressure and make them make decisions.
Also, play lots of passing games where players are under pressure and have to make decisions about when to pass.
- Look at what is happening in front of you.
- Make quick decisions based on what you see.
- Communicate accurately with the players inside you.
What you get your players to do
Set out four channels with an attacking player in each. Tell three defenders which of the four channels not to run into and set them off. Always starting in channel 1, the attacking players have to spot the empty channel and communicate with each other where it is. They pass the ball to the player in the empty channel who runs past the defence. If channel 1 is empty the ball must be passed to player 2 and then back inside to channel 1.
- The attacking players can start facing away from the defenders. They turn and attack immediately.
- The defenders can change channels as they move up. In the middle picture, the defender in channel 3 moves into channel 4.
- Stand behind the defence and hold up coloured cones. Nominate a player (or players) each time to call out the colour of the cone before setting off. This shows that they are looking up.
Split into eight attackers against seven defenders. Play a game of touch rugby where the ball carrier and tackler go to ground when there is a touch and simulate a ruck. When there is a “ruck” the defence lines up with four players on one side and two the other side. The scrum half counts to 5 at every ruck before passing. The attacking team has to try to create overlap situations against the two defenders.
What to call out
- “Heads up and scan the defence”
- “Keep watching the defence for changes”
- “Keep communicating until you’re through the defence”