EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Don’t switch out of the game

A switch or scissors play helps change the angle of attack. Stop the passer tuning out after the play but look for a second touch on the ball. They are often the best-positioned player to take advantage of any break. 

Teaching the switch pass is a bit of a nightmare. So much depends on timing and younger players, especially, find it hard to coordinate all the movements. 

Over the years, I’ve changed how I coach it by using one of the tricks in the session, Switch and stay in the game. I have the ball carrier run diagonally across a box, and when they reach about the middle, they simply “leave the ball” on the hip. By this, I mean they put the ball on their hip nearest to their try line and just pop up into the air a little. 

If there’s no one there to take the ball, it simply falls to the ground. However, you encourage another player to run diagonally across the box in the other direction so they can take the pass. 

The ball carrier leaves the ball on the hip, which that support player is running towards. The whole emphasis is on the support player. Don’t try to get the ball carrier to pass towards the support player. The mathematical calculations to work out the interception velocities would make your eyes water, so a ball that is “left behind” is much easier to catch than a ball passed towards the support player.

With this session, expect lots of dropped balls – well, initially. The ball carrier must trust the support player. The support player must work out their intercept line and be prepared to accelerate onto the ball when possible.

But the switch isn’t over once the pass has been delivered. The passer needs to work hard to get back into support. First, they will probably be blocking a defender from getting to the ball carrier – legally, of course. After that, they should turn back towards the flow of play. 

In the session, we are encouraging the receiver to “wrap” back after taking the ball, which, in essence, means facing up the pitch. If they are half-stopped, or even make a bit of a break, the original passer is an excellent option to use as a supporting player.

TRAINING GAMES AND SWITCHES

Using switches in touch rugby games doesn’t give many rewards. The main advantage of a switch is to attack the “weak” shoulder of a tackler. If the tackler isn’t setting themselves to drive into the passer, they certainly won’t be unbalanced enough to miss a player coming on a switch.

Some coaches award “points” for switches. I’m not a huge fan of this because it creates an unnatural outcome – you’re not rewarded in the right way. 

Instead, how about if you tell the players that a switch pass means that the receiver should be touched by two players before they need to pass? That at least has a better effect.

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