Tips to improve your kicking game

Inexperience and youth do not seem to be the only reason why teams sometimes kick badly. Simple tactics should be applied to the kicking game as well as the running game. Some of the key rugby skills are:

Kicking for pressure

Additional pressure can be placed on the opposition by kicking. This means making defences work hard to catch or gather, and return the ball.

Tactics: i) The high ball. ii) The wiper kick.

  • The high ball should aim to have your chaser meeting their player as he catches the ball.
  • The wiper kick (a diagonal kick across the pitch and away from the forwards) aims to drag their players to empty parts of the field.

A mix of these two kicks can push sides into defending deeper. There should then be more gaps in the defensive line as opposition wingers and full backs track back in defence.

Kicking tips for position

Kicking for position happens in your opponent's half. They take your team to places on the pitch where you want to be.

Tactics: i) Kick near to the touch line. ii) Kick into the corner.

  • Kicking so the ball lands near the touchline can mean the ball either rolls into touch, or that the opposition has to field the ball and then possibly give away a lineout as they clear the danger.
  • Kicks into the corners are a good way of putting pressure on the opposition and forcing a position for you.

Kicking for position requires chasers, but also players who track back to field any return kicks.

Kicking tips for disruption

These are primarily methods of going over or "under" the defence with the aim of giving yourself an excellent chance of retrieving the ball.

Tactics: i) The chip kick. ii) The grubber kick. iii) The cross kick.

These work most effectively when the defensive line has been difficult to break down and you want to create some forward momentum.

Which kicking tactic is best for you?

Before the game look at the conditions, your side and the opposition. Then decide whether you want to use a pressure game, a positional game or a disrupting game. Then stick with this game plan.

Consequently, chasers and kickers will now know their roles and the forwards especially will be able to understand where they will need to run.

If the plan has to change, in a simple tactics world this should be done at half-time when the players can be re-briefed.

For many teams, however, the game plan might be decided on at the start of the season and continued throughout the remainder of the season.

This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.

Click here for rugby coaching tips to improve kicking skills.

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