Learn to lift in the lineout

The move to lifted lineouts can be a daunting one for players because of the dynamic movements involved. But the basics can be learned very quickly – here’s how to approach your teaching…


Players usually learn to lift between U13 and U16 level, depending on the laws of the particular union. But whatever age they start, a successful lifted jump still requires certain previously mastered skills.

Jumpers need to still jump – this makes for more dynamic lifts and lifters aren’t there to move dead weights.

Equally, jumpers need good catching skills. Thumbs almost touching, fingers spread, looking through the gap between the index fingers. Jumpers also need a strong core. A 10-minute core programme done daily at home will provide this.


There are two major differences between the non-lifted and lifted lineout, besides the actual lift.

  1. The throw will need to be higher.
  2. The timing will be different to allow for the time for the lift.


When learning, there’s a risk of a jumper falling from a height. So surround the lifting pod with other players who can catch any falling jumpers early.


Law 19.10(d) specifies what pre-gripping lifters are able to do: “…don’t support the jumping team-mate below the shorts from behind or below the thighs from the front.” Law 19.10(e) permits pre-gripping.

Whilst learning, it’s recommended that all lifters pre-grip on the shorts. Gripping should be done “thumbs up, fingers down”.

Novice lifters may be lifting on sweaty/muddy/greasy thighs, so they might slip and drop the jumper. You could get jumpers to wear lifting blocks, but these don’t help you nail the technique. And now you’re also into “Er, I forgot the lifting blocks…”

By law, the rear lifter has to grip on the shorts anyway (forget what you see in elite rugby!). Front lifters tend to progress to lifting on the thighs, but this is even more unstable. The shorts in effect provide a handle to grip onto. The thighs don’t. So get all your lifters gripping on the shorts. Only once techniques are perfected should front lifters begin lifting from the thighs if desired.


To make the lift, players should bend, extend their arms and then step together as the jumper leaps.


  • Practise lifting without a jumper to start with to work on the timing and technique. Lifters should squat with their knees bent so that they can stand easily.
  • The lifters should extend their arms first until their arms are above their head. Then, stepping in and standing so that their chests bump, they push a jumper towards the sky.
  • Once lifted, there should be no space between the three bodies involved. Common faults at this early learning stage include “A-framed” pods, in which the lifter’s arms aren’t fully extended and there’s a gap between the bodies.
  • Using their strong core, jumpers should keep legs together, straight and in line with their torso – like a ladder or a plank.

Also, use my session, Introducing the lineout, to develop the technique required.


Once the lift is complete, the laws require the jumper to be safely returned to the ground, so lifters should quickly but precisely steady the jumper as gravity brings him down.

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