Using an inverted backline shape, your runners from a ruck can give the 9 more options to pick up the best-placed player to break the defensive line. An inverted three is a group of three players that line up so the furthest player is in front. All but the first player in the line can take the ball with a player in support to drive them out and away from the previous breakdown. It’s easy for the outside players to adjust their timing to support the first player if he’s the receiver. MORE
Gather the loose ball | Tips and activity
Practise falling on dropped passes or loose kicks as part of your core skills, especially in wet conditions.
DON’T SPRINT ONTO THE BALL
Most mistakes in falling on the ball are down to two things. The first is the pace at which the ball hits the middle of the body as you are sliding into it. If you generate too much speed you will be sliding uncontrollably while you are trying to control the ball
The second is the failure to get the uppermost hand behind the ball. For example, if you slide into the ball on your left hand side, the right hand should be behind the ball as the middle of the body touches the ball. Then by pulling the ball into you, you can then get off the ground with the ball quickly.
All players need to be comfortable with falling on the ball and regaining to their feet. Use our two-man loose ball activity to build confidence.
By all means the players must get to the ball before the opposition but try to teach them to look behind them quickly to see how far away their opponent is. It will give them confidence in the skill if they know how much time they have.
PRACTISE THIS SKILL ON A WET DAY
I know whoever washes the kit will hate me but teaching a skill that involves sliding across the ground is more fun and enjoyable for the players in the mud and the rain. But it does have a logical reason behind it.
A slippery ball is harder to pick up so training to gather the loose ball and mastering it is so much more rewarding than doing so in any other conditions. The players will need to concentrate hard and will need to execute the skill perfectly to be successful – all the while smiling and laughing.
And in training games, make players fall on dropped balls to improve their reactions.
Two-man loose ball competition
- Put two players facing each other in the middle of a 5m box.
- You shout a player’s name or colour and roll a ball into the box.
- The nominated player falls on the ball and then tries to get to his feet before the other player returns.
- The other player runs to the opposite end of the box and returns to challenge for the ball. Roll the ball at different angles and have the non-retriever run to different sides of the box.