EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Four ways to unbalance a defender

If your players can create a one versus one opportunity, it is a chance to breach the gain line. If they can unbalance their opposite defender, then they should succeed.

Players need to understand that there are a number of ways to unsettle the defender both with and without the ball. It helps for the attacker to know what the defender is trying to achieve and reverse the psychology. Here are four of them.

UNBALANCING THE DEFENDER

1. Change of direction

Movement before receiving a pass can force the defender to “sit” or plant both his feet early thus leaving him exposed. For instance, running an outwards movement and then sharply changing direction to dart inwards as the attacker receives the pass.

2. Ball carry

The defender will aim to fix his attention on the attacker’s centre of mass. By carrying the ball in two hands and shaping to pass the ball, the attacker is giving the defender misleading cues that he may focus on and make him indecisive about whether to make a tackle or not.

3. Footwork

The use of stepping and stride patterns can again distract the defender and switch his attention from closing the space down on the attacker or trying to push him to the sideline. He, in turn, will need to match the footwork which is difficult to do. This might involve side-stepping, double shuffle movements, or swerving for example.

4. Change of pace

A change in pace means the defender again has to match the attacker if he is to get into the correct position to tackle. The attacker can change from a slower pace to acceleration or vice versa by slowing down and then speeding up again he gives himself a split-second advantage.

PRACTISING UNBALANCING

Put your players into 1 v 1 and 2 v 2 situations and allow them to explore the possibilities. Players can discover their own strengths and weaknesses in this area.

Vary the type of defender the attacker is up against so that they learn the appropriate method to unsettle for example a prop as opposed to a winger.

Adapt the space given to the attackers so that they gain an awareness of what they can and cannot achieve.

EXERCISE 1

The receiver has to beat a defender coming from different angles.

EXERCISE 2

The receiver has to take a high ball and beat a defender who’s racing towards them.

EXERCISE 3

The receiver has to beat the defender by carrying the ball in two hands – either dummy or pass.

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