EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Hip, twist or turn: how to take contact

There are three main options for how the ball carrier takes the ball into contact. A better understanding of the different methods will help your players decide.

Though we want the ball carrier to avoid contact, there will be times when they will be tackled and still able to adjust to take the impact on their own terms.

There are some principles for this contact, but not every circumstance suits just one type of body position.

There are three main types of body position:

  1. The full turn so the back is into the opposition.
  2. The twist and step when the chest is facing the touchline.
  3. The ball on the hip, when the chest is down the pitch.

Before we can assess each one, we need to prioritise the outcomes that we want.

  1. Ball retention – which one makes sure we keep the ball safe and secure.
  2. Speed of continuity – we want to make sure we can win the ball back quickly enough to stress the defence.
  3. Go forward – if we can’t win the ball back quickly, can we still go forward.

TRAINING TIPS

Use more player v player contests rather than player v pads.

Mix and match the sizes. Players might have to change their style to suit the situation.

Create different scenarios where there may be more defenders or more supporting players. These players might join the situation at different times.

THREE TYPES OF CONTACT

TURNING WITH THE BALL

As contact is made, the player turns and presents his back to the opponent, and presents the ball two handed towards his own goal line.

Pros

  • Places his whole body between the defender and the ball creating a large block.
  • Has maximum grasp and protection of the ball.
  • Can see who he is handing the ball off to.

Cons

  • Has no effective forward drive.
  • Can easily be tackled to the ground if support is not immediate.
  • Risks being hit around the kidneys which is painful, even dangerous.

THE TWIST AND STEP

Just before contact, the ball carrier turns and steps into the contact, with the ball on the hip of the back leg.

Pros

  • Powerful contact with the opposition.
  • Difficult to bring the ball carrier to ground because of the wide stance.
  • The ball is away from the opposition.
  • If the defender is rocked back, can turn either forward to drive forward or turn back to hand the ball off.

Cons

  • Stops any further momentum.
  • Limits the passing/continuity options.

BALL ON HIP

As contact is made the player faces forwards and places the ball on the hip furthest from the defender.

Pros

  • The player can keep driving forwards.
  • Less easy to tackle to ground.
  • Moves the ball away from defender.

Cons

  • Only controlled by one hand.
  • No vision of who is taking ball.
  • Exposes ball on one side to defenders if support is not immediate.
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