Rugby drills to improve reaction times

Ground work drill

A player lies on his back on the ground. He throws a ball up and has to get to his feet before catching it.

Blind receipt and pass drill

  • Pair up your players. One player stands in between some posts (maybe the goal posts). He closes his eyes and puts his hands out.
  • His partner stands about a metre in front of him. He throws the ball to the “blind” player, who has to catch and pass it right, so that the ball hits the post.
  • Continue the drill with every other pass going left and swap the players round frequently.

Anticipation drill

  • Mark out two narrow columns, side by side. Place three players holding pads or shields in the middle of the columns. Set them up about five metres apart, with one standing behind the other.
  • A ball carrier runs down the columns and tries to anticipate which way the bag man is going to step.

Colours drill

  • Mark out a five-metre square box (or a grid of boxes, depending on the numbers at training). Inside the box, have the players perform simple rugby drills, such as pop passes, rips and side-steps.
  • When you shout a colour, all the players have to sprint to a coloured cone outside the box, then return. Emphasise technique in the box and speed on the reaction to your call in this drill.

Two balls drill

  • Three players stand about two metres apart. Two have a ball. A fourth player (the “worker”) stands four metres away from the other three players.
  • One ball carrier passes to the worker, who passes it on to the player who didn’t start with a ball.
  • As soon as the worker passes the ball, the other ball carrier passes to him. The worker repeats the catch and pass action to the “spare” player.
  • Repeat this rugby drill for 10 or so passes, before swapping the players’ roles.

Rugby drill to boost players' ability to react quickly

Drill extension

Develop the drill by having the worker run forwards and backwards over three metres before receiving each of the 10 passes.

Click here for rugby drills to help speed up your players’ decision-making skills.

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