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CoacHclass Top Tips IX

Our latest CoacHclass Top Tip focuses on gaining possession of the ball

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Gaining Possession

Ever wondered why Mark Van Gisbergen, Paul Sackey and Tom Voyce are so good at launching counter-attacks? What skills do you think are needed to get the ball even before the attack begins?

Gaining Possession and the associated core rugby skills are a big part of the CoacHclass intinerary that will be coached at our Summer CoacHclasses. This is coached with the emphasis we place on the Principles Of Play:

  • Gain Possession
  • Go Forward
  • Support
  • Continuity
  • Pressure
  • Points
Picture courtesy of

Falling on a stationary ball
Because possession is so important, a player under pressure should always be encouraged to play safe and quickly drop on any loose ball.

Coaching Points:

  • Move quickly to the ball
  • Keep the eye on the ball
  • The player should fall quickly and decisively next to the ball and place his body between the ball and the opposition, thus shielding it
  • He should hold the ball safely in his midriff and attempt to immediately get to his feet

Picking up a stationary ball
If a player is certain that he can pick up a stationary ball safely he should do so, because this will enable him to launch a counter-attack, which can be productive especially if the ball has been picked up in open play. It should be stressed, however, that if there is any doubt in the player's mind of his ability to pick up the ball cleanly, he should play safe and drop on it

Picture courtesy of

Coaching Points:

  • Move quickly to the ball
  • Keep the eye on the ball. On approaching the ball, the player should adjust his feet so that they are correctly positioned
  • Run at the side of the ball
  • Straddle the ball so that the inner leg is at the back of the ball
  • Lean the body down close to the ground
  • If the ball is lengthways across, scoop it up with the rear hand going underneath the ball and the other at the front, thus preventing a knock-on
  • If the ball is lying with the point facing the player, he should scoop up the ball by placing the hands at each side of the ball
  • Controlling a moving ball
    A moving rugby call bounces and wobbles, and is often difficult to pick up cleanly. Players of all ages and abilities must be able to control the ball, because possession is vital. Players should be encouraged to fall on to a moving ball more often than not, thereby immediately gaining possession. The coaching points for this skill are no different from those already listed above.

    If time allows, a player can control the ball with his feet, soccer-fashion, before picking it up. It is also possible for a player to judge the bounce of the ball and collect it as it bounces into the air. This skill needs thorough training.

    Coaching Points:

    • Move quickly to the ball
    • Keep the eye on the ball
    • On approaching the ball, readjust the feet
    • Lean the body close to the ground
    • Extend the hands
    • Be prepared to catch the ball as it bounces up
    • Timing is important
    • If in doubt, FALL ON IT
    Picture courtesy of

    Catching a high ball
    Because kicking is an important tactic in rugby, all players must be able to catch a ball that has been kicked high into the air

    Coaching Points:

    • Concentrate on the ball - resist the temptation to glance at oncoming opponents
    • Judge the flight of the ball
    • Move into position quickly
    • Keep the eye on the ball
    • Hold the arms out and up in a searching attitude, with the fingers spread
    • Allow the ball to land in a cradle formed by the hands, forearms and chest
    • Trap the ball with hand and forearm as high as possible on the chest
    • On catching the ball, round the shoulders
    • Keep the elbows close to the body and close together; bend the knees
    • The player should turn his side into the opponents, thus giving himself protection and ensuring that the ball cannot be jolted out of his arms in the tackle. By doing this he will ensure that any dropped ball goes back towards his own posts and is not a knock-on


    • As soon as players are proficient catchers, they should be encouraged to perform this skill while leaping high into the air. This requires them to move to the ball, and timing is important.
    • The receiver should attack the ball and catch it as high as possible above the heads of the chasers. There are three instructions to remember when attacking the ball:

      1. Move late
      2. Move quickly, and
      3. Take the ball at the highest possible point of it's trajectory
    • There are three advantages in delaying the movement to attack the ball:

      1. More time is given to assess it's trajectory
      2. A later movement means that the receiver must move more quickly, so greater height is achieved when jumping for the ball
      3. Because greater height is achieved, the ball can in fact be taken earlier in flight than would be the case if the receiver moved early but slowly

      CoacHclass Top Tips Series

      CoacHclass Top Tips - Popping the ball out of the tackle
      CoacHclass Top Tips II - Decision-making in attack
      CoacHclass Top Tips III - Rucking
      CoacHclass Top Tips IV - Evasive Running
      CoacHclass Top Tips V The Fend / Hand Off
      CoacHclass Top Tips VI The Three-Point Principle before, during and after contact
      CoacHclass Top Tips VIIThe Switch and Scissor Passes
      CoacHclass Top Tips VIII Back Attack Roles

      Summer CoacHclass

      5-Day Residential 'Be Your Best' Academy CoacHclass at SEAE Arborfield with London Wasps and the British Army
      30th July 2007 to 3rd August 2007

      Under 14s to Under 18s
      Click the London Wasps logo on-line at

      3-Day Summer CoacHclass at Aylesbury RFC
      14th to 16th August 2007
      Under 8s to Under 15s
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      3-Day Summer CoacHclass at the London Wasps Training Ground, Twyford Avenue, Acton
      21st to 23rd August 2007
      Under 8s to Under 15s
      Click the London Wasps logo on-line at

      3-Day Summer CoacHclass at High Wycombe RUFC
      28th to 30th August 2007
      Under 8s to Under 15s
      Click the London Wasps logo on-line at