Using cones to vary rugby drills

Cones are the ubiquitous coaching prop and yet we only seem to use them to mark out boxes and playing areas. Here are five rugby coaching drills involving cones to improve core skills.

1. Footwork in a box

In five metre square, spread out about 30 cones in a random order. Players then have to enter the square and run about avoiding contacting with them. More players cause more bumps. Players could carry a ball as well and then also make and take passes. Anyone who hits a cone is removed from the square, perhaps for a couple of press-ups.

In a bigger area, with the same assortment of cones, get players to move in different directions, say sideways or backwards, or even perform piggy backs.

2. Turnovers game

In a 10 metre square, put an equal number of cones one side up and the others upside down. Two teams are assigned a direction of cone. In 30 seconds the players need to turn over the cones so they are the right way up for their team.

This promotes footwork, good body positions and it is a great rugby warm-up drill.

3. Body positions

Joining a ruck or maul requires a player to have their hips lower than their shoulders. Ideally their backs should be arched with a dip between their shoulders and backsides. If the spine is in line and their shoulders are square, players should be able to balance a cone on their back over a distance of five metres.

In your next tackle bag drill, have one player place a cone on the middle of another's back before they move to hit contact.

4. Pop passes

To promote better passing from the wrists and lower arms, make players hold cones between their upper arms and the sides of their chest. The restriction of shoulder movement puts a premium on wrist and elbow control. If a group of players can move the ball down the line, standing close together, it will show not only good control of the ball from the hands, but also force the players to make accurate passes.

5. Running targets

In training it is possible for some players to be happy to reach the norm rather than push themselves to the limit. Get players to carry a cone when doing a timed run. They then put the cone down at the end of the time period. After a rest period they need to at least beat this target the next time.

Now the player is not only running against the others, but also against themselves. The winner is the player who beats their target cone but the greatest distance within the time allowed.

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 pre-match rugby warm-up drill to prepare players for rucking and mauling.

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