Five rugby coaching tips for passing and catching skills

"Spear" passing rugby drill

The ultimate test of a player's passing and catching skills is when they're under extreme pressure. In this case, the pass must be completely accurate and the catch perfect.

Though we expect players to train at maximum potential, there are times when you need to artificially increase the pressure. Try a spear rugby drill.

  • During your rugby training drill, shout "SPEAR". For the next two minutes every pass made must be between shoulder and hip height, and every catch must be made with two hands away from the chest.
  • Any player failing to achieve this is has to go to the sideline to perform a forfeit, such as 10 perfect pass and catches, before returning to the action.

Backside ball rugby drill

The drill works on using the upper body to catch and pass.

  • Put equal teams of between 4 and 6 players in a 20 metre long by 10 metre wide box.
  • Every player starts on their bottom.
  • They can only move by using the crab position, where they raise themselves off the ground from a sitting position with their hands and feet.
  • The players can pass from a sitting position.
  • They score by passing the ball to a player who is over the opposition's end of the court.
  • The ball can go on the ground, but if it goes out, the opposition team gain possession. There is no contact once a player has possession.

Passing MUST dos

  • Pass FOR a player in space. That is pass into his running path.
  • Pass TO a player who is about to take contact, so he does not need to stretch to take the ball.

Catching MUST dos

  • The catcher must catch with the fingers and not the palms of the hand. 

Block passing game

  • As a warm up game, put three players inside a small box.
  • Two of the players pass the ball to each other five times, without the ball being knocked to the ground by the third player. Inevitably there will be some pushing and pulling.
  • Players have to work on close quarter passing using one handed offloads, low and high passes, and footwork to find space to pass.

Kick pass rugby drill

  • Set up a 10 metre square, with one player in the middle of one side with a ball.
  • Have two players run through the square.
  • The ball carrier punts the ball at the nearest player, who has to gather and pass.
  • The extra pace of the ball from the kick increases the pressure on the catcher to use a good catching technique.
  • You can add further pressure with a defender in front of the two attackers.


  • Set up a five v five game in a 20 metre square box.
  • Play normal tag or tackle rules of rugby apart from every pass must touch the ground first.
  • Players can therefore roll the ball or bounce it to another player of their team.
  • Though this rugby drill does not improve regular passing technique, it will improve handling, gathering and footwork skills. It will also teach players about the shape of the ball and its impact on the ground.

For more rugby coaching tips and secrets click here to subscribe to International Rugby Technical Journal.

Click here for a rugby drill to work on quick fire handling skills.

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