Rugby drill to work on catching a high ball

What you tell your players the drill is about

  • Getting in position to catch a high ball.
  • Improving your body position in the air to catch a high ball.
  • Exploring your options from a secure high ball.

What you tell your players to do

  • Call clearly for the ball.
  • Time your jump so you can catch the ball while in the air.
  • Support the catcher and give him options for your counter attack.

What you get your players to do in the drill

Split the players into groups of three, with the groups moving around the drill area, throwing the ball up for each other to jump up and catch.

The catcher must keep his eyes on the ball, call for the catch and time the jump so he catches the ball in the air. The catcher then should land in a strong position, ready to take contact if necessary.

rugby drill to help players catch a high ball

The catcher in each group calls for the ball and jumps up to catch it.

What to call out

  • “Eyes on the ball until it is in your hands.”
  • “Arms up at head height. Fingers pointing up.”
  • “Get side-on to the direction of play.”

Develop the drill

  • Player one throws or kicks the ball towards player two, who runs forwards and times his jump to catch the ball in the air.
  • Player three runs up and either competes in the air or makes the tackle on the ground.
  • The kicker has to come in to support the catcher.
  • Add more players to each group so there are more supporters and chasers.

development of catching drill where catcher has to look at ball and not incoming defender

The catcher has to focus on the ball and not the oncoming defender.

Game situation

Two teams of three compete against each other, playing across the 22 metre area. One team kicks the ball high for the other team to receive, and follows up the kick as a defensive team.

The catching team has to secure the ball and support the catcher. They then counter attack against the oncoming defence.

Develop the game by allowing the teams to kick back if a counter attack is not on.

image shows game using skills from catching high ball drill

The support players communicate with the catcher and run back to support him.

What to think about

  • What can I do to stop players knocking on when catching the ball?

    The key is for players to get side-on when they catch the ball. This means if the ball is dropped it will go backwards rather than be knocked on.

  • My players are always watching the oncoming defender rather than the ball.

    This is very common, especially with younger players. Start getting their technique good without any pressure from opponents. Remind them that if they are in the air, the opposition cannot tackle them.

    Once they are comfortable, add opponents gradually and slowly increase the pressure they exert.

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