EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Feel the force in the maul

Use a blindfold on a player in a maul situation so he has to use his sense of the force in the maul and communicate with the players around him.

Many years ago, I had a young scrum half that wasn’t very comfortable shouting at his older peers in the pack. Despite my best efforts to boost his confidence, when it came to a driving maul, he simply wasn’t comfortable giving instruction to the players.

Therefore I had to develop a different strategy where the players in the pack became a little more aware of the opposition without the help of an exuberant scrum half.

THE FORCE ACTIVITY

Have a full lineout set up with a hooker to throw the ball in. Use any lineout call that allows your team to set up a driving maul. Once the team bring the ball to ground and have set up, shout STOP At this stage, isolate one player, any one will do, and ask them to put on a blindfold. An old shirt or even a sock will do.

Re-set the driving maul and at WALKING pace, start the maul moving forward.

When you are ready, ask the team to now move the maul to the left or right asking each player to readjust their position to maintain an optimum driving maul.

Once you have completed this exercise with several different people, bring in players with ruck pads to add a little more resistance – then repeat but always at walking pace.

THE TECHNIQUE

The blindfolded player cannot rely on what they see and therefore have to react to the pressures placed on their muscles – this is known as proprioception. Most driving mauls rarely drive straight down the field. They often need to move to the left and the right to make the defenders break off and have to reattach while allowing your maul to progress.

By blindfolding one player, they will be better able to appreciate that using all of their senses can help them make better judgment about where the oppositions defence of your maul is weakening and where it is at its strongest. Now you aren’t just basing your maul on where the 9 would like you to go.


PROPRIOCEPTION

The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if blindfolded, the player knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body.

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