Rugby coaching drill for kick offs

Drill session aims

Your game plan should set out the aims for your kick offs. In simple terms, for the chase you are thinking about:

  • Retrieving your kick off by taking a short high kick.
  • Pressurising the receiving team into making a mistake, kicking for touch or back to you with a long kick.

The chase

In all cases, you need to split your forwards into chasers and supporters. Always hold back either a forward or back to cover the deep space behind the chasing group.

The chasing group will have the quickest most agile forwards racing up and challenging for the kick. The others will follow and fill any gaps in a defensive set up.

You can split the group further if you have time into a player who goes beyond the ball, two who challenge directly for it and a further player who sits in behind ready for a deflection.

Kicking off – let me do it!

When we are practising kick off receipt, I like to kick off, because I want the fly half in position to dictate play in a practice. If I can't kick, I throw it.

Practising the chase

Practise by kicking off to a couple of spare backs.

The chasers should run towards the kick from the touchline inwards. How close they are to the touchline depends on your kicker and his kick positioning. The other forwards spread out evenly and follow in behind.

Have the winger who is on the chasing side of the pitch always directly chase the kick. For deep kicks, he may be the first there and put extra pressure on the receiver.

The quality of the chase can improve a mediocre kick and make a good kick work in your favour. It will need at least six to ten efforts with the variety of kicks you are going to use. The discussion of players' roles will take some of this time.

The chasing kick

Your shortened drill session has not time enough to spend on perfecting your kicker's drop outs. Knowing that you are going to be doing the session, he should be spending some of the warm-up time or pre session minutes practising his range and height of kicks.

The kick off receipt

If you spend eight minutes on the chase, then you should double your time on the receipt. The simple reason is that you will be receiving if you have just scored, apart from at the start of one half, and this is a psychologically important time to be rock solid.

Setting up in scrum formation for kick off is a thing of the past.

Put your best catchers in the places they are most likely to receive the kicks, with a support player close to them. Put a couple of players near to the 10 metre line to cover short kicks.

Have one player patrol the touchline from the 22m line upwards and another from the 5m line to the 22m line. The scrum half should tuck in around the 22m line, with the best runner fairly close to him. Spread out the backs to cover the rest of gaps.

Drill set up

The drill set up should take no more than a couple of minutes. Now rain down all sorts of kicks. In my experience this works better than spending lots of time talking. After each kick, quickly suggest adaptations, or better still help the players to do so.

If your rugby drill is unopposed, run two phases of play. Again, your game plan will dictate how you will react to a kick off. For instance you may want to kick long and chase, cross kick to touch, box kick for pressure, run wide or hit up and kick. This is the time to practise.

It is worth creating some pressure in your drill. If you don't have enough subs or just the bare fifteen, then have players who are furthest from a normal kick, that is one of the wingers, a centre and full back, chase up the kicks.

Drill tips

  • Decide on your kick off chase and receipt aims.
  • Split your chasing group into ball challengers and support players.
  • Practise for eight minutes on the chase.
  • Arrange receiving positions, putting your best catchers in the most likely receiving positions.
  • Spend around 15 minutes receiving a varieties of kicks and pursuing tactics post kick.
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