Rugby coaching tips to make core skills fun

Here are some different ways of adding an element of fun to handling activities, with techniques that can be applied to most skills.


Practise normal passing and then change to an unusual form of passing before returning to the core pass being examined. For instance when looking at offloads, make the players try one-handed back flicks in the tackle for a couple of rounds of the drill.

Time trials

After going through some of the drills, try putting a time limit on achieving a certain target, e.g. five passes in one area followed by fives passes in another in 30 seconds.

The element of pressure builds a certain amount of tension, but also can lead to players enjoying the success. If they can beat their times or other group’s times, they will enjoy the task even more.

Unusual areas

Don’t just practise in boxes or circles, use different shapes set out by cones to force players to think in different ways. Some coaches set out a snake-like shape with differing widths in which players must progress up the pitch. Also try handling on a sharper incline, or in long grass.

The skills coach

Working individuals or very small groups will increase the technical ability of the players. During a regular training session this time is rare, but try 10 minutes before and 10 minutes after the session.

Different balls

There are at least five separate sizes of rugby ball out there. Don’t just practise with one size, get players to handle using all shapes and sizes in one practice.

The variety of shapes will challenge players to change the way they may take and give a pass. And don’t just think of different rugby balls – try using tennis balls, footballs (have you ever tried spinning one of these?) or even beach balls.

All could add an element of fun, if not enhance your players’ understanding of ball handling.

Resistance running and passing

Resistance running is where another player holds onto a player’s shirt or shorts as they try to run forward. The idea is to let the player progress but by making them work significantly harder than they would do normally.

Have you tried this technique with ball handing? Players do not always have the luxury of passing unhindered.

Cones as distracters

In passing drills, make a player carry a cone in one hand. They are allowed to use the cone and other hand to catch the ball, but they must release or pass the ball using the hand without the cone. Once they have made right-hand passes, then get them to change hands.

Move on to getting players to take passes one-handed – replicating the times in the game when they need to take contact with the other arm.

One-handed pass to one-handed catcher is not going to move the ball quickly across the field, but it might be very useful in a tight situation.

This article is from our Motivating Your Team manual.

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