Waz's Coaching Corner - Training for a Set-piece

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By ARU Media Unit

The importance of winning your own ball at the set piece is paramount to success. Conversely, attacking the opposition at the set piece and disrupting their possession can create all sorts of problems for the team with the feed.

The first principle of team play is to win possession. Therefore, allowing time to train to win the ball is as important as getting the techniques right. As the majority of coaches in Australia are ex-forwards it should be simple in gaining possession from scrum, line-out and restarts!

The training program for the scrum should include:

a) a basic strengthening program for the neck, back and thighs for the tight-5
b) selection criteria so that correct body shapes are selected in the front row
c) a flexibility and core strength program for the tight-5 as these players must be able to exert and resist force
d) training that provides a safe, effective and realistic environment as possible. For example, 1 v 1, 2 v 2 and 3 v 3 components where the players are in real life situations as against a closed environment of pushing against a scrum machine.
e) Repetitive work on gaining and controlling correct body shape. Because the scrum has both internal (with team mates) and external binds (with opposition) the players must be able to adapt and work on keeping their shape.

Other issues around the scrum include players wearing molded soles. On hard pitches these are appropriate, however, on softer surfaces they do not provide enough traction and often players lose their footing. If this is the case then all players in the scrum must practice and know the ‘Mayday’ protocol.

If a game has about twenty scrums how much time is allocated to train for it? This will depend on the skill level of the players and what the coach wants from the set piece. It may be to restart play, and at lower levels this is probably a reasonable philosophy. At higher levels, like Premier grade, the scrum could well be the foundation of the game. A scrum that constantly goes forward is a predicator for winning contests as it involves strength and stamina.


The training program for the lineout should include:

a) a program that includes practice for the thrower, jumpers and lifters
b) work on lifting technique, so that each lifter is sharing the load
c) work on the lineout caller identifying space
d) education on the laws pertaining to the lineout. Did you know that the lineout ends in one of six ways?
e) Work on variety in the lineout, including movement on the ground, and
f) A calling structure that is simple to understand.

Once again, the allocation of time at training is paramount to its success. Training may be dictated by the number of throwing/jumping options available to the team. If a team has one jumper then the options will be less than a team with three jumping options.

Players in 2010 should be aware of the lifting restrictions that referees will focus on, including going across the line-of-touch and obstructing (usually by the back lifter).
In relation to the restarts, and especially receiving a kickoff at half way, many teams try and emulate what the professional players do. This may be totally irrelevant as the recreational player does not have the skill to emulate the movement and lifting of a moving receiver.

The issues that need to be resolved in receiving a restart include:

a) a structure than provides coverage of space
b) an early call from the receiver
c) roles and responsibilities of the players around the receiver
d) options available to the team once the ball is secured.

If a team is taking the restart then they have to identify where they are kicking; whether the kick is contestable or for field position; who is chasing/contesting the kick and what options are available to them should they be successful in re-gaining possession.

Safety of jumpers in either line-out or from restarts is a high priority. Not only must the jumper be safely lifted into the air they must also be brought to ground safely.

In short, make sure that time is allocated to winning the ball from primary possession at the set piece. Coach the players in safe practices. Coach the players into making decisions so that they are challenged on the field. Coach the players the Laws around these areas of the game and coach problem solving because some opponents will do things that will challenge your team.

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