Denis Betts, former head coach of Rugby League side Widnes, spent four years as a rugby union skills coach at Gloucester. Here he shares his thoughts. MORE
Practice one handed ball pick ups
- A 15x10m area.
What you get your players to do
Players run 5m towards a ball on the ground (see picture 1). Approach the ball to the side, bend at the knees and scoop it up with one hand while going forward. Run with the ball in two hands after the pick-up.
The ball pick-up should be just to the side and slightly in front of the foot next to the ball. Pick up with the head over the ball in a low body position with knees bent and back straight. Stay in motion – do not stop – then transfer the ball into two hands.
Add a chasing player to apply pressure from behind (see picture 2). Start with touch then progress to full contact. When attacking, encourage the attacker to score over a try line against a defender.
When defending, the player is running back towards his own try line. Add an extra support player to offload to and an extra chaser to create a 2v2 scenario (see picture 3).
Ensure you initially delay the chasers in the defensive scenario allowing the player practising the skill to pick up and either turn to attack or offload.
You roll the ball to a point 5m from where a runner has to pick it up with one hand without stopping.
Increase the pressure on the attacker by adding a chasing player who begins his run 2m behind the attacker. Once the ball is gathered, the attacker holds it in two hands and scores a try with the defender in pursuit. Touch tackle to start with then progress to full contact.
Practise defensive one-handed pick-ups by getting a defender to chase back and turn. Add a second defender to increase his options as chasers close him down.