Getting the most out of rugby drills using grids

What are grids?

In their simplest form they are a small area, usually a rectangle, where players cross from one side to another repeatedly over a period of time. Starting points tend to be the corners, though more advanced grids may make use of many other points, either in a rectangle or whatever shape suits the needs of the rugby coaching session.

For players who are not used to a high level of training, they can form an easy area in which to work and more importantly be coached. The levels of pressure, contact and activity can be increased quickly and with ease.

Why are they useful?

1. Technique: Grids can be a place where rugby technique can be focused on, especially since there are usually a number of repetitions in a short space of time. With players gathered around the grid, the rugby coach can demonstrate skills to a more organised audience.

2. Skill drills: A number of rugby skills can be carried out in a grid, which can be changed very quickly. For instance from taking no contact to taking contact can be changed mid-drill for more advanced grid users.

3. Pressure: Game related drills introduce greater pressure. Grids can be used to up the tempo by setting targets (for example, no dropped balls in the next 30 seconds), adding more balls, allowing tackling, making the grid smaller or even changing the skills mid-drill.

4. Continuity and cyclical drills: Cyclical drills repeat themselves with the same players. Since the player will be starting from a different standpoint, the feeling of a more continuous situation is developed. This relates to the game where a player, for instance, may be required to ruck more than once in a sequence of plays.

5. Chaos: Many players crossing over and potentially coming from different directions can lead to chaos. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Players then have to be more aware of what is around them, using all their senses to adjust to the differing circumstances with players coming from all angles.

6. Activity: A good rugby drill session has as many players active as much of the time as possible. With judicious use of the numbers in each group, a grid can maintain almost continuous movement.

But beware of grids! Do not become a slave to the grid, make them your slave.

Warning tips

Resting: Some grid work can offer time for players to rest too much. Queuing is a signal to change the number of starting points in the grid.

Working in the comfort zone: Some players become expert grid workers, but never translate that onto the pitch. Familiarity can breed this sort of player. Obviously variety reduces this, but add spice to your rugby drills by challenging the better players to achieve secondary skills in the grid. For example, only allow them to use their weaker shoulder to hit a ruck.

Players will get bored by the same grid rugby drill sessions week in, week out and their skill level will inevitably drop.

Game situations: A grid cannot create many of the wider game situations. Remember it is only part of the armoury of drills and techniques a rugby coach can use.

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