Second touches: a key essential of support

Passers must keep themselves in the game, especially to support a possible offload. Second touches help players have a more defined role in the play.

Second touches is a term that describes the action of a player working off the ball after a pass to receive the ball again. This is generally from a loop or run around, where the ball carrier passes the ball and then moves around a second attacker to receive it again.

Second touches also describes the action of players working hard to support the ball carrier, looking to provide offload support post-contact. Having a team with players looking for second touch opportunities gives the ball carriers the confidence to try to get their arms free to look for offloads.

These types of attacking options are a great way to add another attacker into the line whilst checking the defensive press. It is an attacking option that can work against both types of defences, checking and holding a drift defence or getting inside and through a blitz defence.

Against drift defences, the second attacker can square up and sit down his defender and stop them drifting onto the next attacker. The looper can then attack around the corner of the second attacker. This then creates an extra attacker to utilise.


Sit down – make the defender plant their feet to make a tackle

Square up – make the defender face forward, not drift across

The corner – the space in the attacking line next to another attacker


Against blitz defences, the loop player (the first attacker) must attack inside the third defender. That means running at the space between the second and third defender.

The third defender will be racing up at the third attacker in the line, so the looping player takes a pass from the second attacker running at that space. To be successful it requires the receiver of the pass to hold, check or commit the second defender, by running at their inside shoulder.

If the defender follows the ball carrier then the loop pass back to the second attacker will work. If the defender starts to move off the ball carrier towards the loop player, then the ball carrier can look to dummy pass and accelerate through the gap.

It is important when training and coaching this move that the players understand the body cues the defence give off and react to them.


Use a simple 3 v 4 scenario with the attack being numbers down.

  1. The first attacker (A1) must attack the line square and commit the first defender and stop him drifting or supporting the outside defence.
  2. The second attacker (A2) needs to start outside their defender and run straight. As A1 shapes up to pass the ball, A2 needs to adjust their running line and accelerate into the space inside their opposite defender.
  3. A3 needs to attract the third defender away from A2 and create a seam in the defence by running an outside line and creating a larger space between the two defenders.
  4. After the first pass, A1 needs to arc in behind A2 before straightening up his running line and attacking tight in behind A2 and into the space created.
  5. As mentioned above, A2 needs to read the defensive cues on whether to pass or run for the success of the second-touch loop play.
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