A book review of Ulitmate Crush: Waseda University Rugby, Leadership and Building the Strongest Winning Team in Japan Katsuyuki Kiyomiya translated by Ian Ruxton. The Japanese love slogans. Ultimate Crush, which was coined for the Waseda University rugby team, translates differently according to the dialect used*, but the core meaning of “overwhelming victory” is clear. MORE
Making core skills rugby drills fun
Improving core rugby skills is important for players and the team. But players, however motivated, will need some new ways of approaching the core skills to add variety to drills and practices, with examples involving ball handling particularly.
Add variety to drills
Break up your drills with a little variety. For example, practise normal passing, 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 tips
After going through some of the drills, try putting a time limit on achieving a certain target. For example, 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 own or other players' times, they will enjoy the task even more.
Don't just drill in boxes or circles, use different shapes set out by cones. This will 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.
Different size balls
With all the different types of promotional balls, as well as age group balls, there are at least five separate sizes of rugby ball out there.
Don’t just practise with one size, get the players to handle using all shapes and sizes in one drill. The variety of shapes will challenge players to change the way they may take and give a pass.
And one should not just think of different rugby balls, but also try using tennis balls, footballs (have you ever tried spinning one of those?) or even beach balls. All could add an element of fun, if not enhance your players' understanding of ball handling skills.
Resistance running and passing
Resistance running is where one player holds on to another's shirt or shorts as they try to run forward. The idea is to let the player make some progress, but making them work significantly harder than they would do normally.
Have you tried this skill with ball handing? After all, players do not always have the luxury of passing unhindered.
Tips for using cones
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 taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.
Click here for a fun core skills drill using tennis balls.