Rugby coaching tips to help players get out of pressure situations

Calm and comfortable

Making the right decisions in tight situations, close to your own line and under pressure can be crucial to your team's success. The first receiver in these situations needs to be calm and know that the players around him will do their jobs.

The most important thing is that everyone knows their role and is comfortable with executing it. Give players lots of experience in these situations so they won't panic when faced with similar scenarios in matches.

The game

The key pressure point

This excellent game scenario allows you to manipulate the players from both teams, attack and defence, to change the pressures on the players.

It not only improves basic passing, kicking and support skills, but also develops decision making, vision, awareness and communication under pressure as well.

The set up

Set up a scenario for your players where they have a ruck five metres from their line.

The scrum half, fly half and five other players, who can stand anywhere, have to get the ball safely away against six tacklers putting them under pressure.

Rather than telling your players what you want them to do, let them try different options and find out what works best. If they struggle at first, get the defenders to move up slightly slower until they achieve success, then put the pressure back on again.

Make sure you practise on both sides of the pitch and in the middle as these present very different scenarios, depending on which foot your normal kicker kicks with and which is his stronger passing hand.

First receiver options

From the five metre scrum or ruck close to your own line, the scrum half passes to the first receiver. The first receiver then has three options:

1. Kick high

This means launching the ball at a higher angle of trajectory than normal, to lessen the chance of a charge down.

The kick is executed from a side on position rather than front on. This means the kicker can kick the ball around any on-rushing opponent.

Due to the trajectory of the kick, it is difficult to get much distance on the ball and finding touch can be hard. Players need to be aware of this and follow up the kick with a good chase.

2. Pass to a team mate

The first receiver can pass to a team mate in space.

As the focus for the opposition should be the ball, any chasing opponents will then have to change direction. A well timed pass can therefore put a support player into a relatively large amount of space, to either run or execute a better kick.

3. Show and go

The first receiver can feint to kick the ball and then accelerate away from the chasing opponents across the pitch. If the player takes this option, it is important that the support players outside him run straight, to straighten the attack.

As this is the most unexpected option it can often be the most effective, although it carries obvious risks.

rugby coaching tips to get players making good decisions when under pressure

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