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Running Against The Wind

“At training we would be just ‘running against the wind.’ There are no defenders, so we would score tries easily. It’s better when there is opposition as it’s more realistic.” (18 year old girl rugby player)

The phenomenon of running attack practices without opposition appears to be rife in team sports. It has been passed down through generation after generation, with the aim of perfecting set-play after set-play which generally repeats at every Thursday training for the entire season. Although this is especially common in rugby, such as when practicing team attacking systems (run-throughs), strike moves and lineouts, other sports have caught on too. E.g. Netball centre pass plays, hockey short corners, cricket nets, basketball plays from the top of key etc…

This is really bizarre when you think about it, especially as on Saturday, we have defences creating havoc and presenting different pictures. So why would we practice ‘against the wind?’

Well there may be opportunities to learn set plays without any defensive pressure, but once everyone knows the play, it’s time to test it with defence. Some practical ideas:

  • Use ‘spare’ players to defend a certain area / zone. Then get players to defend in a certain way to see how the attacking team adapts.

  • Practice against another team.

  • If you have a small squad, look to replicate a part of the whole. E.g. half-court, half the pitch.

If we want our players and team to improve, they need to train in context, so it’s time to stop ‘running against the wind’ Chuck in some defence!

For more ideas, check out the Coaching Junior Rugby Resource - Club packages available. Get in touch to see what can work for you.


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