EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Ten-minute handling blast

Improve your players’ handling awareness at the start of a session with this ten minute warm-up activity. Expect lots of mistakes, but also plenty of laughs and development.

THE AIM OF THE BLAST

You need to get your players to touch the ball as much as possible as they are moving around. That means they need to look ahead to avoid contact. And they have to have their hands ready to catch or retrieve the ball, before moving the ball to the next player.

At the top level, you might expect a high level of execution and few dropped balls. Here, you should concentrate on energy and effort. Only look for the best at the end of the blast, in the testing zone.

The first week you do this, the players will need some instruction on how it all works, so give yourself an extra couple of minutes to cover this. The next time you run the blast, you will move quickly between the stations.

A. FIRST TWO MINUTES

Put as many players and balls into a small area. You shout one of three colours.

  • If you shout “red” (like a red rag to a bull), anyone carrying a ball runs as fast as they can for five paces.
  • If you shout “blue” (for sky), they throw the ball in the air. Anyone can catch the ball, but a ball carrier cannot catch their own ball.
  • If you shout “green” (for grass), the ball carrier puts the ball on the ground and someone else picks it up.

B. SECOND TWO MINUTES

  1. Players get into groups of three or four. The first group runs down a narrow corridor.
  2. For example, put a line of cones 3m from the side of the pitch.
  3. The ball carrier has to leave the corridor and pass the ball back in. The next receiver catches the ball in the corridor and then repeats.
  4. Once every player has done this they race back to the start to repeat.
  5. They see how many they can do in 30 seconds. A short rest and then repeat.

C. THIRD TWO MINUTES

  1. In 10m wide, 5m long box, the players line up in groups of three or four facing each other.
  2. Have no more than three groups in one box, so that’s two at one end, and one at the other.
  3. The first group runs and passes the ball along before popping it to the next line.
  4. After a “run”, the players in the group must swap positions.
  5. After a minute, they swap the direction of passing. Keep the energy high throughout.

D. THE FINAL TEST – FOUR MINUTES

  1. In the test, the players will run up and down the box passing in groups of three or four.
  2. They will also be criss-crossing, and so have other players coming in opposite directions and from their sides.
  3. Each group has their own ball and they have to turn, swap positions and restart when they reach the end of the box.
  4. Start at a fast walk. Then up the energy. This can be done through your vocal commands.
  5. Then do a 20-second count, where you see how many lengths a group does without dropping a pass. Repeat several times, always asking groups for their scores.
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