Sharpen midfield decision making

Decision making preparation

Start the drill session with a game of "Corners".

  • Put about 10 players in a box. Make two of them "chasers" and give them a ball.
  • The chasers must pass the ball between themselves, aiming to touch another player with it. They must not drop the ball in the process and they cannot run with the ball.
  • Any player touched becomes a chaser. Players who run outside the box also become chasers.
  • Play until all the players are touched.

The game works on anticipation. Players who don't look ahead and work out where they and the ball need to be to meet a potential running line of a target will not be very successful.

Better players can play in a larger box. This will test anticipation skills further, as well as communication, footwork and passing.

Decision making drills

As in the picture, set up two channels for your centres (12 and 13) to run through following a pass from the 10.

rugby drill to improve midfield decision making skills

  • Crucially, start the rugby drill with a pass from 9. This is essential because the triggers to start running come from the first pass.
  • The 10 should not tell the players whom he is going to pass to, though. This promotes good alignment and awareness.
  • Allow the 12 to pass onto 13 if he wants. Also, encourage 12 and 13 to run different angles.

Develop the rugby drill

  • Add two defenders. One to pressurise 10, the other to run into the channel of either 12 or 13. The 10 now has to assess what's in front of him and deliver a pass to the player in space.
  • Increase or reduce the distances that the defence comes up from. After all, in a match the defence won't always be in your team's space quickly, and sometimes they may arrive from an offside position.
  • As another part of the process, don't let either 12 or 13 call for the ball. Let 10 recognise the space himself and pass into the expected path of the player.

Building a different game picture

In the last part of this session, change the angle of the defenders' approach. Instead of coming straight forward, they drift – one as if from the back of a ruck, the other into the centres.

I use cones to help with the starting and "turning" points of the defenders, but they ultimately need to read the movements just as well as the attackers.

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