Looking at the attack, there are various components that play a major role in what attacking plan you as a coach can come up with. In the late 90s and early 2000s, we used to play with the forwards behind the backs, providing options on the inside and outside. Of late, the shape attack has taken president with the forwards playing in front of the backs. Some questions arise: Are your forwards skilled enough, can they make decisions under pressure, can you change shape around in different zones and how do we train these situations?
SKILLED FORWARDS: So our burly front rankers and massive locks have to be able to step explosively into an onrushing defence with the ability to make a decision, to carry, tip pass or pass out the back when playing of 9 that requires a lot of skill. We have to teach our forwards to be able to step towards the inside and outside and pass both ways with the same precision. So the next question is the question about: when is it a skill and when is it a technique? Technique work without pressure is good, but it only becomes a skill when the technique can be performed under pressure. So by training a passing and stepping technique under pressure we can up skill our forwards to be as good as the backs in those skills.
DECISION MAKING UNDER PRESSURE: Forwards and backs, need to be able to make a good decision under pressure. Do we teach our players to be aware of what the defence is doing? As coaches are we teaching players the cues what to look for when making decisions? The attacking team has to change the shape of the defence, by doing one of the following: 1. First receiver’s running angle before he receives the ball, must be towards the inside mid-space, forcing defence in, 2. When he receives the ball he can step towards the outside mid-space, effectively forcing three defenders to make decisions 3. Slowing feet (speed) down when the defence is rushing, giving the attacking player more time to make a good decision 4. Always have at least one decoy (option) runner off 9, forcing the defence to slow down as the decoy is an option 5. Using a kick pass: Grubber, Cross kick or a chip kick 6. Using vertical pods or trail runners 7. The direct-indirect principle of support running, when ball carrier runs indirectly the support runners have to support direct and vice versa Attacking cues in shape attack is for the ball carrier to be: 1. Aware of the momentum of the attack: Front foot ball, Quick ball, slow ball & static ball 2. Aware of what defence is doing: rush/slide/rush check slide/spacing of defence
3. Aware to pin his man as quickly as possible: then looking what outside defender is doing shoulders in / out, to play tip or out the back 4. Aware of where the space is, is also vital cue for all players and the team as a whole As coaches we have to put the players in these mini unit situations (scenario’s) and make them follow the above principles to improve their decision making under pressure, no decoy is ever just a decoy it is always an option runner. We have to make all players aware to always expect the ball at all times. When we allow our players the opportunity to make decisions more often in game-like situations they will be able to make the correct decisions.
DIFFERENT SHAPES FOR DIFFERENT ZONES: With so many teams playing a 1 3 3 1 shape mainly running of 9 rugby has become a grind. I like some of the shapes and adjustments I see in the UK. Different shapes are already happening when teams enter the 22m area, but I would like to challenge coaches to change shape formations in the width of the ﬁeld. Having a lateral pod of three running of 9 or 10 and then having a vertical pod of 12 or a two-man pod with a back in behind. To play around teams is becoming increasingly more difﬁcult and teams need to ﬁnd creative ways to play through the middle. When you are challenging the defence through the middle it forces them to get narrow and that should open up space in the outside channels. From set piece we have been attacking the vacuum between the scrum and the backs and between the back of the line out and backs, so a third vacuum that has been created by the lateral pod of 3 forwards is when the third attacking player runs an under’s line and the defence follows him in. This opens up space for the out the back runner, but with the next defender shouting in, it can open up the inside ball or the short runner on the outside. So the whole time we have to try and create disconnections on defence.
HOW TO TRAIN DIFFERENTLY: As a coach we often fall into a structure with our training, the players get into a comfort zone and will start going through the motions. I love changing things up, by playing a game for 3 minutes (ruck touch), going into a scenario till a mistake is made and allowing for the counter-attack and then going into a shape decision-making drill and repeating that, with a skill zone as back up set out in four corners. Each player will have to visit the different skill zones at least once in training. I love all coaching staff to be involved and to have certain aspects of training to be responsible for. Players are at training to train and we as coaches need to get players making as many actions as possible in the time. This means we can’t have players standing in rows waiting for a minute to perform a speciﬁc drill for 3 seconds and then wait again for a minute. We also need to get players doing an action under pressure and under fatigue. Players need to make as many decision as possible in the time provided.
IN CONCLUSION: As coach be creative with your attacking shapes, I can see the game going to a shape of 5 pods of three in the near future, where we have all players equally skilled. Those pods would have different setups and be lateral and vertical. Allow your players to make the decision by coaching cues and awareness what to look for, this will lead to more creative play and more line breaks. Attack the mid-space to keep three defenders busy and to create disconnection in the defence. Breaking down the defence is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge, and if we as coaches aren’t going to look into different systems then our game will stop growing and stop developing. Attack needs to make defence adjust to what the attack is doing and not the other way around. Happy coaching, please feel free to contact me,
Tredoux.firstname.lastname@example.org and we can chat coaching. #Dare2Care #Enthusiasmwins #Lovetheﬁght
Andre is currently coaching in Russia for a few months, if anybody knows of a coaching opportunity in South Africa please help to bring this guy home.