Dip and slip for continuity in contact

If your players have to take contact, they must be prepared to make the ball available. And a side that can offload – even from a young age – will find their attacking options vastly extended.

How long is the rugby coaching session?

  • Set up – 5 minutes.
  • Rugby warm up drill – 7 minutes. 2 minutes of light running and passing, followed by a 5 minute specific handling warm-up.
  • The main rugby coaching practice – 35 minutes. 10 minutes for the main session, 5 minutes developing it, and 20 minutes incorporating the skills into a game-related exercise.
  • Rugby warm down drill – 8 minutes. 2 minutes of light running, 3 minutes of dynamic stretching, and 3 minutes of static stretching.

Equipment and rugby drill set up

For the warm up drill you’ll need to lay out a short, narrow channel.

For the main practice you’ll need to lay out a 15 metre square box. Players will work in groups of 8. For each group you’ll need:

  • 3 contact pads.
  • At least one ball.

The session will develop into a game-related exercise played out in a 10 metre wide, approximately 40 metre long channel, marked out with cones (or kit) every 10 metres.

What you tell your players the session is about

  1. Improving your passing out of contact by “dipping” into contact and then “slipping” (offloading) the ball away.
  2. Improving your support play and handling to enable ball carriers to pass out of contact.

Rugby warm up drill

Start off by having the players jog around passing a number of rugby balls between themselves for about 5 minutes. Then spend 10 minutes practising their handling and contact skills with “fall and pop”, ideal for preparing tackled players for the pass.

Warm up game: “fall and pop”

A group of three or four players with a ball run up a narrow channel. After 3 metres, the ball carrier falls to the ground and pops up the ball. After making the pop, the player either performs a forward roll or one press up before rejoining the group, which is moving forward.

What to call out during “fall and pop”

Here are some handy phrases to call out to your players to help ensure their technique is correct:

  • “Turn your shoulders towards the receiver.”
  • “Use your wrists to deliver the correct pace on the ball.”
  • “The pass needs to be looped up rather than passed straight at the receiver.”
  • “This resource is excellent. I’m sure that it would aid any new coach in the game.”


The main rugby coaching session

Lay out a 15 metre square box. Split your players into groups of eight, with five attackers facing three defenders with contact pads.

What you tell your players to do in this drill

  • Move forward with determination.
  • Make the defender move to you.
  • Take the contact on your terms.
  • Pass the ball with one hand.
  • Support with depth and pace.

The ball carrier pulls the first defender to one side, dips and makes contact, with his left arm and left shoulder fending off the pad, before dipping lower into the pad. As the ball carrier moves past the pad he must pass (slip) the ball one handed to the support player, who then repeats the same skill on the second defender.

Ensure all players are active in attack and defence, and can pass off both hands. Start by having the ball carriers walking into contact, before increasing the tempo as the players improve.

Dip and Slip 

Developing the session

  1. Bring the defenders up in a flatter defensive alignment.
  2. Allow the defenders to move forward into contact. They must stay onside.
  3. Increase the number of defenders to five, to match the attack.
  4. Remove the contact pads and allow “live” tackling.

Practising the skills in a game situation

Set up a situation where six attackers have to make their way up a 10 metre channel. They are faced by six defenders spread evenly down the channel, about 5 metres apart. Encourage the “dip and slip”, but let other forms of offloads and mini rucks and mauls take place. If done well and with good support, the attacking team will quickly move up the channel, only being slowed when they have to ruck or maul.

Next widen the channel to 20 metres. Set it up so the attackers face two waves of three defenders, the second set 15 metres behind the first.

What to call out during the session

Here are some handy phrases to call out to your players to help ensure their technique is correct:

  • “Accelerate into a space.”
  • “Brace yourself for the contact and step into it.”
  • “Keep the ball away from the defender.”
  • “Slip the ball away with one hand.”
  • “Supporter, hold back and accelerate onto the pass.”

Common problems to look out for during the session

  • The players run at the defender not the space. The phrase “move, space, hit” can remind them what to do.
  • Some players may only be able drive into the defender off one side, or can only pass out of one hand.
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