Avoid this catch-and-pass myth to improve handling and running

Improve your players’ handling ability. Stop them reaching for long passes when they are on the run. Change your training setups to allow players to attack the ball properly.

MYTH: The receiver should put their hands out and towards the passer to receive the ball

There is a good reason for this myth. By putting out the hands towards the passer, it allows the receiver to take the ball early. They can then quickly pass the ball to the next player. It also provides a target for the passer.


Very rarely do players need to take and give a pass in one movement. It’s still a useful skill, but it happens only in tight passing channels. That means a short pass in the first place, so it won’t make much difference if the player does or does not reach for the ball.

The target for the passer is either in front of the player or to the players.

If it’s in front of the player, the target is somewhere in front of the player and therefore the passer is not looking at the hands at all.

You cannot run efficiently with your hands out to the side. If you watch any clips of players running on a pass, they don’t put their hands out to the side at any stage. They take the ball in front of them.

Richie McCaw reaches around to catch the ball. This ball is not in front of him to maintain his forward momentum, hence his turn

If a player is planning to take the ball in a static position, then reaching for the ball is a good idea. But these occasions happen rarely. Some 10s take the ball standing still, or it could be a player who’s setting up a maul from a static position at the side of a ruck, or a player standing infield from a long pass after a long kick.


It’s possible to argue that if a player “reaches” for the ball in their mind, they are more likely to put their hands up for the ball better than if they don’t think in that way.

However, most dropped passes are not for these reasons. Instead, players need to concentrate on shaping their hands ready for the pass. The key hand is the far hand in this case. That hand controls the ball, with the near hand then securing the catch.

You can practise this by asking the player to catch only with the far hand as they are running along.

See how they do this. They tend to control the ball and bring it into their body.

Now ask them to use the other hand, and they will still use the far hand to control the ball, but the other hand will keep the ball off the chest.

Even if you an All Black, many long passes make some contact with the chest. That’s okay unless you are thinking of passing immediately.

The only time that a pass to the chest is actually preferable is when the player is taking the ball into contact. Then the player will want the ball passed at the chest so they can keep it secure and away from the opposition. If they have to reach in front of them, then there’s more chance of the opposition being able to grab the ball.


The only occasion that players should reach towards a pass is when they are in a narrow channel looking to move the ball onto the next player quickly. They should reach and then pass in one smooth action.



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