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Securing ball through contact

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Securing one’s own ball means retaining possession throughout phases and consistently doing so during the game. This oval which we strive so hard to keep hold of during our games seems to have lost its "Je ne sais quois"?? I’m not French but what I’m trying to say is that these days we are not that bothered about losing the ball, I think the Ozzies and then foremost the South Africans are to blame for this recent littering of the ball. We strive for possession of the ball, only to be able to kick it away to the opposition. We play hopeful rugby.  In other words we kick a high up and under, put pressure on the opposition and hope they make a mistake. I don’t know about you, but some would call this negative play not so? We should rather be trying to pierce defense with exceptional skill and pace, which is what people really want to see when they watch the pig skin being tossed around. As I just mentioned we need to play with pace, and if we want to keep the tempo high and force cracks in this day and age of Ironclad defense. Securing ones ball in contact When we go into contact there are 2 possible outcomes to the collision zone. You either dominate the contact area or you are dominated in the contact area. So you are either putting yourself on the front foot with forward momentum, or you are put on the back foot and your momentum comes to a grinding halt. We as coaches must change the mindset of our players, so that they start to think momentum, quick ball, dominate contact, quick support and quick reaction. The No.1 job lies with the ball carrier himself, to ensure that he dominates the contact area. The best way to dominate the contact area is firstly the mindset. If we want to have a positive outcome I would start by calling this the attack zone, and not the collision zone because we are not looking for contact we are trying to avoid it. Secondly the player needs to move the contact point. How do we do this?  We move the contact point by means of staying on our feet as long as possible. This means fighting to stay on your feet, but at the same time fighting to move forward. We do this by entering the contact point with the right frame of mind. If we look at the classic blue bulls one pass game it is evident that even with the biggest and strongest players in the country, a well-organized and committed tackling team can seriously put a team under pressure. If these bulletjies, which we find in every 15 man squad, just made the mind shift from collision to evading, the success rate of him dominating the contact and gaining forward momentum will be massive.  Coupled with a good evasive maneuver such as a side step comes the nit and grit of leg drive once the tackle is felt. Yes once you feel you are being tackled it must be a trigger in your brain that says B.U.R.S.T ! This burst of speed, burst of power, burst of leg drive all contributes to dominating the tackle and staying on your feet for as long as possible. This buys valuable time for our support to arrive, and the faster the support the faster we can get the ball away from that contact point again. The faster we can play and the less time we give the army of defense and their general to communicate and organize themselves, the more dangerous your team will be on attack. Ground tactics There will be times where you are however put on the back foot and where your support is late to arrive. One simple thing which is very effective, after you have tried to dominate the contact, and tried to stay on your feet for as long as possible is the snap back and long place. This is entirely your call as the ball carrier to decide if you do or do not have enough support, and then proceed with snapping your body away from your opposition’s try line towards your own in a longitudinal outstretched human javelin. Presenting the ball with outstretched arms as far away from the opposition as possible. This tactic might only save you a second, but that’s maybe all you need until your cavalry of cleaners arrive. Another tactic which buys us time is to roll once or twice on the ground, especially if there are idle hands trying to snatch the ball from your grasp. This Rolling of the body must be an immediate reaction when hitting the ground. The roll coupled with a long place may be the difference between a turnover for the opposition or good clean ball for your backs. If you are way out to sea, and support is far behind which happens quite often when a line break is made unexpectedly you can also play the ball from the ground by either popping it off your chest as you’re going to ground, or even roll the ball back after you have placed the ball and realized there is still no support. This roll back can be fielded by an oncoming player, and the ball should then be cleared away from that pressure area, towards open space on the field. To conclude this article I want to stress to all players and coaches out there that at schoolboy level, and even provincial level players can still get away with their size, but the higher one goes the more even the playing field becomes, and we then have to look elsewhere for options to create go forward momentum. “Every deciding factor in a match can be traced back to a skill, either being executed correctly or not.”

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by Dr. Radut.