KEY SKILL #1
Name of skill: Lineout lifting for a loose forward jumper (rather than a lock)
How to do it: Get a teammate to lift you cleanly and evenly so you are in a good position to catch lineout ball as an occasional jumper. Pay particular attention to flexing your glutes and land with a wide base for keeping your balance once you return to earth.
How this helps your game: It gives you another string to your bow as a lineout option as a flank or eighthman. It also gives your team a variation on traditional throws to your first and second jumper.
KEY SKILL #2
Name of skill: Hitting the breakdown low
How to do it: Hit the tackle bag with the same body angle with which you would approach a ruck, neither too low nor too upright. Find variations to the skill with teammates also contesting for the ball on the ground. Also experiment with the optimal body position depending on the wetness (or dryness) of the surface. The general rule of thumb here is that the wetter the field, the lower the body position.
How this helps your game: Hitting the breakdown with too upright a body position impacts on your ability to either clean out or contest the ball on the ground like, say, the Sharks’ Marcell Coetzee or, the master of the art, the Brumbies’ David Pocock. It’s always important to assess the moisture on the field and the pitch’s quickness – and to adjust your technique accordingly.
KEY SKILL #3
Name of skill: Sticking to your prop as a flank
How to do it: This is best practiced in scummaging against the dirt trackers or the second XV and in match situations themselves. If you have a scrum machine, also good.
How this helps your game: Smart referees will penalise you for disengaging too early as a flank, particularly on the opposition’s feed or in a hook-against-the-head situation. Continuing on the bind is also important on ‘go-forward’ ball from a technical point of view.
#4 KEY SKILL
Name of skill: Passing off your ‘wrong’ hand
How to do it: All players will naturally have greater difficulty in passing to their weaker side. Work on your weaker passing side with teammate, increasing the distance of the pass as you become stronger and more confident with the ‘wrong’ hand.
How this helps your game: Prevents you from becoming one-dimensional as a passer. Predictable passers will be lined up by the opposition making the passed-to player vulnerable. Intercepts also become an option.
KEY SKILL #5
Name of skill: General decision-making
How to do it: Decision-making skills generally get tested in pressure situations, so the idea with this drill would be to replicate game situations, possibly playing within a confined area. You could also practice the drill as quickly as possible, thereby replicating the pace of a match.
How this helps your game: Players revert to form in pressure situations – and can also revert to bad habits. Reproducing such situations of the practice field will prevent you falling into bad habits in matches themselves.