EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Not really homework (plus great playground game!)

In 5 simple handling homework tasks, we’ve come up with some ideas for players to practise their handling at home. We’ve called it homework, but I’m never sure that’s a good idea. The word sounds like something most kids will do everything in their power to avoid.

I’ve sat in a room with some of the best and sharpest minds in rugby and tried to come up with a different term. In the end, “homework” always comes back to the top of the list. It’s because, in the end, homework should be beneficial.

Training on your own is perfectly possible and that includes practising catching a rugby ball. A good catch enables us to do many things quicker and more efficiently. For example, take the ball into contact or catch and pass in one go, or look ahead for the best decision.

In recent years, I’ve asked all my players to bring their own ball to training. For some that means they’ve actually had to buy one for the first time in their lives. And the process of bringing it to train often leads to more ball work. They will be flipping it around at home waiting to leave. Also, when they are going to and from the car, they will be carrying it in one hand while carrying their kit bag. Small things I know, but anything to put their hands on the ball helps.

I’ve also recently seen a playground game your players can adapt for rugby. Set up a 3m wide circle of cones. Put four players around the circle. One player steps towards the circle with a ball and bangs into the ground (spikes it). If the ball bounces out of the circle and is caught, the catcher receives two points. If it isn’t caught, the spiker has another go, plus receives a point. If it doesn’t leave the circle and no one catches it, no one scores any points, and the spiker has another go.

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