Inside out attacking squares

This is a great game for when you are short of numbers and have a variety of positions at training. Use it to develop catch and pass and also for players that find identifying/exploiting space challenging.

The aim of the game is to score as many tries as you can, within a set period of time.


  1. Use a square only, usually, I will have this game laid out in the corner of the pitch. Use 15m by 15m, but dependant on numbers you could have it bigger or smaller.
  2. In the middle of the square you have a set number of attackers. This always remains the same. However, there must always be more attackers in the middle then defenders on each side.
  3. Round the outside of the square, you either have 1,2 or 3 defenders. For example, on one side of the square you might have 2 defenders, then 3 defenders and then 1 defender. You can even have one side of the square left “empty” (no defenders).


  1. Each side of the square is a try line and the aim of the game is to score as many tries as you can in a given time limit.
  2. This game is always played using touch tackles. When an attacker is touched they must pass the ball.
  3. Attackers score the points by placing the ball on the line.
  4. Attackers can pass in any direction until a side is attacked.

  1. To start the attack, the attacker points and shouts which line they intend to attack.
  2. When an attacker has chosen to attack a specific side, the direction of the attacker’s hips indicates the “offside line”. So, the ball cannot be passed forward at this point.
  3. An attack can call “cancel” at any time. There is then a 10 second cooldown period before they can restart.
  4. Defenders are allowed to move round the sides of the square and join other waves of defence. However, they are only allowed off the line one “step” and they must not enter the inside of the square to join defensive lines.
  5. The game ends when the time is up. I find asking the players to keep their own scores for this one is too much. So, I always keep the score for the players.


This game is hard work physically and I will always give the advantage to the attackers when it comes to infringements.

As players become tired the attacker’s technique may start to drop. At this point, I will constantly reinforce technical points to the attacks.

By moving their hips, the attackers commit defenders to the “tackle”. But, with fatigue, this stops happening.

Don’t let your expectations as a coach drop. I have seen players make significant developments in regards to this vital skill, especially when they are working under fatigue.

I never stop this game, I always let the agreed time run out. If I have any joint feedback to give I will delivery it at the end when the teams are swapping over.

Often, I will get the defenders to answer the following questions: “Tell me what made this team difficult to defend” or “who was their most successful attacker and why”. These questions draw out direct peer-to-peer feedback.


You could add constraints to this game too, but be aware as it is a small size pitch this may limit the decision-making ability of the players. You could set the defending team a target of “keep the score down to a certain amount”.

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